Dear ORH Member,
You showed the William Woods University girls and two professors a good time. The bear helped but they rode in the rain Friday like troopers. Sunday, beautiful, gave us scent but it wouldn’t hold except for the bear.
As you know, it is deer season which restricts our use of territory. With the exception of Cherry Hill, every fixture now hosts a deer hunting club or hunting parties. I remind you they pay the landowner. We do not.
Sara, Bob, Pam cleared trails at Cherry Hill and Bob, James, Sara, Kathleen, Chris, Mark, Ed, Susan, and Pam at Oak Ridge. The Hollands allow us to use that Sunday for Opening Hunt and give us the use of the Carriage House at no cost. This is a large gift indeed and we are now on our 26th year of same.
Oak Ridge hosts weddings throughout the year. Usually these take place over a weekend. An activity was planned for Nov. 4, Sunday but the Hollands gave us Nov. 11th. In effect they surrender a payday for us. Given the world in which we live, this is extraordinary.
The Waynesboro Symphony proved a smashing success, another triumph for Mark Catron and Anne Seaton. I will let them tell you what happened after the concert. Quite wonderful.
Thanks to Andy Lynn, ex-MFH of Keswick, Stephanie Gill, professional whipper-in and Heather Player, professional whipper-in and huntsman, we had enough horses for the WWU girls. Thanks also to Heather and Stephanie whom I asked to ride those days to help in the field if needs be. Only one horse and rider went down and that was due to slippery red clay. No injuries.
Per usual, I check with other masters and huntsmen. Those of us in Virginia and Maryland are having similar seasons. Those chasing coyote are getting more scent than those of us chasing foxes. Pennsylvania is doing a bit better but it’s been wet there, too. South of us, well, the damage is terrible but they’ll pull through. Much as we all love foxhunting there are people without homes. Kentucky is doing ok and Nevada is the usual “Yahoo”.
The bridge floods. The boys get back to work. The last flood didn’t tear it up but it was out of commission for two days. I await another quote on labor but I am not hopeful.
Given all the problems with communication, if there is hard rain assume the bridge is out and use the back entrance to TTF off Rt. 611.
Having been hermetically sealed in the recording studio with two dub days to go, I don’t know much about outside events. This is a good thing. I will, however, trundle to the polls on Nov. 6, and hope you do, too.
Up and Over,
The Difference Between a Subscription and a Private Pack
Some time ago I said I would explain this as I don’t think many of you know the details.
A subscription pack elects its master or masters on May 1st. A Board of Governors is also elected at this time and Committee Chairs may also be elected. A Committee Chair does not automatically sit on the Board of Governors. Each subscription pack figures that out for itself. The huntsman is not elected. Staff hires or assignments are the province of the masters.
When a subscription pack works, a great deal is accomplished as the workload is spread. Also, dues are usually higher and canvassed. That, too, is a big help.
The problems arise when all these different committees, people on the board, engage in in-fighting which sometimes happens. Then uproar ensues, even club splits and generally a few people march out at a high decibel level no matter what. They may well be right but it creates chaos. Sometimes it takes years to recover from these tempests.
A private pack is exactly that: private. It is usually owned by one person or a few people. Oak Ridge is private as is Red Rock and I think Stonewall is, too. Lynne Beegle Gebhard calls it a benign dictatorship. Membership is freed from politics to enjoy hunting and one another’s company. The workload falls on the master or masters’ shoulders. However, they may do ask for labor assistance and sometimes financial Assistance. The dues are usually lower, often much lower, at a private pack.
Think of this as an inexact parallel but a subscription pack is a C corporation for profit while a private pack is more like a non-profit structure.
This doesn’t mean there can’t be in-fighting at a private pack. People being people disagreements occur but the frothing is usually at a lower temperature. One can be dismissed from a subscription pack usually by a Board of Governor’s meeting. One is dismissed by a private pack with a subtle or not-so-subtle “Hit the Bricks”.
When the weather is good and the hunting good, fewer dramas arise no matter where you hunt. Eventually people realize no master or huntsman can control the weather. It all evens out.
Being a private pack you all can enjoy the hunting, one another, the beauty of central Virginia with few distractions. The last few days remind each of us how beautiful central Virginia can be as well as how variable the weather.
Years past I made the call concerning hunting three hours before the first cast. As more people from farther away joined this was pushed back to four hours. My accuracy impressed even me.
Given members at even greater distances, I now make the call the night before. This creates more mistakes because the Weather Channel makes mistakes. Our weather system by the mountains changes rapidly. You all have looked at the radar, clear, get here and it’s anything but.
As stated at the beginning of cubbing, I will go in a soft to medium rain, light winds. I won’t go in a downpour or high winds, given the moisture in the earth, the small root balls of pine trees, high winds can create havoc. Each time winds pop up over even 20mph pines come down. The next day John and Toot clear the roads. We often can’t check the trails for days. The roads come first and we have many trails here, Mr. Campbell’s, Jim Klemic’s and Foxden.
You all may not realize how much work there is to do or for this year how distressingly consistent.
Please don’t bug Lynn Stevenson about when and where. The call will be made the night before a hunt. When you have your fixture card, the call will be made the night before a hunt.
Given how odd this year has been I expect to wake up and find unannounced either snow or forsythia blooming.
About twenty interior jumps remain to be adopted. Lafayette College and Florida State University came on board. It’s easier if we can get these painted in ten or more at a time.
Be sure to tell me what color you want as the background. Cost: $100. And it is your jump forever.
This event will be held RAIN OR SHINE
Thank you to all the riders and volunteers who made our Hunter Pace a huge success. Ribbons were determined on “average” and closest to average times, not fastest. And the winners are:
Thank you to all, the riders and the volunteers, who helped make yesterday’s Hunter Pace a huge success. A small green chair has been found with no owner. If this is yours, please let me know.
Labor Day, that social dividing line between summer and fall, is now behind us. Our hunter pace proved successful thanks to a wonderful, as always, course by Sue Satterfield and all you volunteers. We hoped to go out Saturday at the pace but Mother Nature dumped raindrops, lots of them. So the pace moved to Sunday, September 3. Those of us committed to Warrenton Horse Show, scheduled for Sunday, attended while others rode in the pace.
Julia Scheibel won a fifth-place ribbon over fences for those under 30. (Hope I got the age right). Then Julia and Mary put in a solid performance in the pairs class. The level of competition, per usual, was high. Good as they were, no ribbon. Kim Eastep rode over fences in her age division. She was one step ahead of a running fit, but when she rode into the ring she did so well, seemed to bid goodbye to the nerves and enjoyed herself.
Our hunt team did not go out until 12:30 PM. Hard to believe, but classes were jammed. Again, no pulled rails, no balks, no dismounts. A good round but no ribbon.
I hasten to add that our three ladies rode on Sally Lamb’s borrowed horses, B.A. Malone, Chloe, and I do not know the name of the third. To knock out that level of performance on horses one had barely ridden speaks of their ability and showmanship.
Sally Lamb not only lent us these horses, she shod them, allowed the girls to practice at her farm. She would accept not one penny, prepared to cuss me like a dog if I offered. Her motto is: I love foxhunting. I want everyone to love foxhunting. I sure do and I love Sally, too. They don’t come any better or with a better sense of humor.
I gave Sally a small gift from 1890, not anything equal to her gifts to us. She was so moved she said, “Now you’re going to make me cry.” Well we both got a little misty but that’s okay among longtime buddies.
But Sally’s kindness to us underscores what makes foxhunting far more than foxhunting.
Kindness from our gang included Amy Burke and Kathleen King grooming, seeing to tack, calming whoever needed calming (Kim, again), doing all manner of scut work. Kristin Jones also worked her buns off, smiling throughout. Page Turner drove up and joined us on the rail as Mark and Karen Catron brought foldout chairs. So did Beth Panilaitis.
Ellie Wood Baxter sat in the grandstands with B.J. Koral and Jane Fogelman. There was another FHC lady in the stands and I’m shaky on her name. A heavy dose of nostalgia swept over us as Ellie Wood had ridden at Warrenton and the other great shows for most of her soon to be 96 years (September 10). She won at Upperville in her 80s, I believe.
She truly is one of the greatest amateur riders this country has ever produced. And even though blind she’ll mount up and ride on flat ground with one of “the girls” riding alongside. Here’s to another 96 if she’s so chooses.
Our participation at Warrenton or any of the shows with foxhunter classes rolls in a tide of compliments, friendships and invitations to other hunts. Go to the shows, go to those hunts to which you are invited. You learn from every hunt you ride with and of course, you invite them to ORH.
As an aside, whenever I go to a show, I gravitate towards other huntsmen and whippers-in to talk hounds. Inevitably at the end of cubbing, someone will ring me up and offer a hound now a touch slow or a youngster who may be a touch shy but those hounds have bloodlines I covet. I believe our pack speaks to this as the kids improve each year.
We’ll talk about this down the road but a few of us want to put on a much smaller foxhunters’ show, say right after Easter. The staff class alone is worth it. We’ll make a bit of money but we will be doing hunting some good, ourselves some good and have so much laughter in the bargain.
On another note, no Virginia Hunt Week this year. Hunt weeks are odd years, William Woods University even years. Cindy Morton, MFH of Rockbridge, the co-director along with me, noted that the new man at the MFHA and the board there is trying a Hark Forward Initiative which, I think as I have no information, is adjacent clubs putting on hound competitions, not hunts but hounds hunting and competing for ribbons, I guess. Well it competes directly with their schedule. So Cindy, quite wisely, said let’s give them a chance. I agreed. If it works, fine. We will find another time slot since Virginia Hunt Week is successful, easy to do. If not, we will return to our regular time in October.
This will be hard for you to believe but 456-8787 is now working after a four-month no dial tone, no anything. However, it is only working on one phone but that’s better than nothing. It does mean, however that I must make the call which I do three hours before hunting if there’s doubt, then run from the bedroom to the office. Not so bad but at 4:30 a.m., I am not at my best.
Verizon is the worst company with which I have ever worked, closely followed by Pitney Bowes. The field people are quite good. Those sitting in the office chairs could care less about you or your account. But all of us in a rural area must take what we can get. As we are right by the Blue Ridge Mountains, communications are difficult and upgrading the lines, etc. is an expense the company has no desire to make. If we were in an office building in Richmond none of this would be the case. Modern business I suppose. God only knows what comes next.
September 15, Friday, 7:30 AM. Arena. First day of cubbing. Finally. See you there.
Up and over
We have lost Gene Dixon, a heartbreaking loss. Bob Satterfield will write an obituary as he knew Gene for years. He may have already done so. As I don’t have email people forget to send me stuff on the fax.
Rebecca McGovern, Francis’s mother died on August 19. She was highly intelligent, gracious, elegant and kind. This, too, is a loss but Mrs. McGovern was 107 years at her passing. Now there was a long, long life well lived.
We’re calling it early! The Hunter Pace will be held on the rain date, Sunday September 3.
You can describe the last part of our season as an artist would describe his or her income: chicken one day, feathers the next. 74° followed by snow flurries at Cherry Hill, snow and ice yesterday and today, March 14.
The foxes don’t care. We’ve had one slow day and one blank day, sure there was a boo-hoo but pretty much it was blank. The other hunts varied from long runs on one fox to foxes everywhere, a convention of foxes.
Sunday, March 5 the fixture was moved to Tea Time Farm. Maria cast up the creek from The Arena, always a nice cast to settle the bank, focus them as the creek is on their left and woods are on their right. They hit. Sounded great. I drove up to St. Thomas Equinus sign and waited. If hounds turned right, one can quickly follow, if left, stay put.
They circled, some of emerging in the large pasture at the sign, the southern pasture, then they dipped back into the woods and the cutover area. On a hunch, I have no idea why but I guess that’s the definition of a hunch, I drove down toward the now hanging by one hook old Tea Time farm sign, passed the stone jump, such a pleasant jump, reached the red gate and stopped. Listened some more.
Hounds kept circling, speaking. I opened the gate, walked into the field, stood still. To my left the hunted fox walking, not terribly concerned, crossed the farm road, sauntered into the pasture where I stood, paraded himself in front of me, shot the bird, walked to the remnants of the hidden pile and the old large round drag, paused so that I could admire his person, looked at the jump there, listened. Hounds cross the road so he trotted into the woods. A mid-sized red, full winter coat, quite a handsome fellow. I wonder was he auditioning for a part in the Sister Jane series? Never underestimate the ego of fox.
Maria heard my “Tally Ho”, rode up. She urged hounds to the spot where he trotted into the woods and they opened like the organ in St. John’s Cathedral. All voices raised, all on. They flew. What a thrilling sound.
On and on they flew. After three hours, Maria lifted them, turned for home and wouldn’t you know, they hit in the cutover cornfield, over at the slough of despond (remember your Pilgrims Progress). She and the whippers-in finally convinced them to move along.
A couple of hounds, footsore from the long hard runs over hard ground and rock in some places, needed to sit out the next three hunts. Yes, there were some hound noses out of joint but they’ll be out Friday, March 17 and Sunday, March 19, Closing Hunt.
This is why green tins of bag balm are in our little medicine chest. Works. Works for us, too but hope no one takes a notion to run over our territory barefoot.
Both Emert and Chellowe provided good runs.
What a glorious memory our Fall 2016, Winter 2017 will be. Our 24th year.
Which brings me to a preaching moment. May we have more and more years. May your grandchildren’s grandchildren have the good fortune to celebrate the bounty and beauty of Nature. Focus, thought, political engagement and doing all we can to secure property is the way. So think. Look ahead and look around. Let’s preserve all this for those who come after us including the foxes.
Kathleen King kindly agreed to work with the Nelson County Historical Society in the hopes of a fox hunting display. Some kind soul gave the society the first hunting horn used by Oak Ridge back in 1887. She’ll give us updates and marching orders.
ANIMAL SAFETY IN CRISIS
The fire at the large clapboard house perhaps a quarter of a mile up the road from Ashley’s got many of us thinking. Fortunately the people and five dogs made it to safety. One kitty is missing. Don’t know if she has been found.
Animal rescue and/or our fire department have no trailers to transport large animals in need. We can get the fire department a list of people with trailers but in an emergency at a farm it would be much better if the equipment was with them.
Once hunting season is over and once I’ve returned from a small tour, I’ll talk to Bette Graham, the founder and head of Almost Home. More than anyone, Bette has worked with county agencies. She’ll know the steps to take. None of us want to make a misstep. I have no idea of jurisdictions, etc. I just know our fire and animal rescue often lack this equipment.
Mark Catron has spoken to a few people and he thinks Southern States will put up some funds for a trailer. Another person with a wealth of knowledge is Dr. Jessica Ligon so I will talk to her early April. Dr. Ligon is our hounds’ vet. Apart from her skill she is very practical. There you have it. We’ll keep you posted.
After a hunt at the tailgate, you all heard the lament of the power washer. Unless you have a commercial grade power washer, a used one is about $5500 (I’ve been looking), if you squeeze two years out of them, good. Everyone politely listened. Mark said he would raise the money. He did not. He went out and bought a new Troy Built power washer, delivered it himself to the farm.
Hounds thank you, John and Toot thank you and I thank you.
Bob Satterfield spoke to Gene Dixon. The hunt would be more fun, easier to do in the fall. He was very willing to allow Chellowe and to be the venue. Gene, generous to a fault, has made so much land available to us over the years, when I tell other masters the acreage we have to hunt that is private land not state parks or state forests, all are astonished unless they are west of the Mississippi waters. Lynn Lloyd has joint meets in California at a fixture that is 80,000 acres. We’re all lucky.
The weather, wildly unpredictable, worked against make-up hunts. I refuse to hunt into April because the vixens are heavy. Usually they stay close to their den but should anyone go further, we can’t take that chance.
In a normal season we average about 62 to 66 hunts per season, depending on where the holidays fall. That is a good average. If I add in the second and fourth Wednesdays for September and October that bumps it up by four hunts. I would really like to add every Wednesday after Opening Hunt. The more hounds go out, the better for the pack. The afternoon hunts are small fields because not many of you get off work but we have never had a blank Wednesday. Should I write that? Will it jinx the future? I don’t think so. That 4 o’clock fox keeps a precise timetable plus he’s hungry. But if we don’t have the staff to do every Wednesday after Opening Hunt, we can at least keep to our second and fourth Wednesdays.
Bill Johnson’s sudden death on October 26, followed a few days later by Vey Martini’s unexpected passing, then our wonderful Anne Henderson left us, plunging all of us into sorrow. The services for each of our friends reminded us of why we loved and admired them. Many of you came, some driving great distances so we could be together in this mournful time. Each of these individuals would want us to remember the good times, the laughter, the bracing chats at tailgates.
In time, each of us will rediscover the joy they gave us, celebrate the joys to come. If we don’t embrace life, we repudiate their memories. Our challenge is to live life up to Bill, to Vey, to Ms. Henderson. I believe you will.
Heat and drought didn’t deter our hounds. They found scent, would lose it, press on and find it again. The runs, mostly short, offered some reward. Hounds did enjoy a few longer runs.
However, the rains have come, the mercury has plunged. The only impediment now is deer season. We have about another month of that. Our quarry sits tight so it takes more to get them up and running. Also, occasionally deer hounds, left out, join our hounds. The kids stick to the way business.
Grays will soon start breeding, followed by the reds. This is the best time of every season. The hardest part is keeping your fingers and toes warm. You can forget the cold during a hard run; it’s the checks that get you. Still, it is as they used to say back in the 1940’s, “very heaven”.
November 26, Saturday, the Waldingfield Beagles hunted from Tea Time. It appeared a hopeless day: windy and the tail end of that damned drought. Casting down by the lower barn, Amy Burke, carrying the horn, moved northward. The north branch of the Rockfish River, way below offered some rising moisture and strange to report, the tiny little feeder creeks still trickled. After 15 minutes of brisk walking, with some of the field casting a nervous eye at the steep drop to their left, we pushed into the area where my northernmost pasture abuts the creek between Jim and Joan Klemic’s land and mine. Zap. Out shot a flying rabbit, zigging and zagging for all he was worth. Beagles hopped on that hot line, immediately and we ran up and down, into brambles, over rocks for an hour and a half with only a few checks. That was a sporting bunny who finally ducked into a safe haven. Amy, still energetic, pick hounds up near the run-in shed by my house. What a tour de force of exciting hound work on a day I wouldn’t have given a nickel for, really. Goes to show, you never know.
Unfortunately, not one Oak Ridge member was there to see this incredible run. Nor was there any food back in Headquarters. Bob had dropped off the drinks in the morning but that was it. Page Turner hurried to Ashley’s. All that was left was fried chicken but we were all famished. Not one piece remained.
Thanksgiving weekend jams everyone’s schedule. In the past we have had some participation for beagling. Granted, it’s never as much as I would wish but I must realize, at long last, that few people love hound work as much as I do and even fewer want to run on foot. It’s not reasonable for me to expect you to join me as I listen to that music.
Speaking of music, our hound chorus grows louder and deeper. The young entry, now part of the pack, are learning to sing as opposed to squealing. Oh, there’s a high pitched squeak every now and then but they’re getting it. How that sound makes those sultry July and August walks worth it and how I wish Stuart Jones were with me to hear it. The fuss from him if someone sang soprano! I’d counsel patience. He actually listened after venting and once the singers learn to harmonize, we were like two little kids, silly with happiness.
We exhibited a bit of nervousness hunting from Cherry Hill, Friday, December 2. Turned out it was lovely to be there. We felt Ms. Henderson and she sent us a few foxes. One was viewed running out of the territory. The other one, elusive, kept the hounds focused. As you know, Cherry Hill is not easy. The fox has all the advantages. Maria cast counterclockwise, starting from the graveyard. At the end of the day, hounds had reached the huge pasture across from the Brethren church on Variety Mills Road.
With only one whipper-in, Becky Birnbaum, one is always a bit nervous near a paved, well used road. The pasture, filled with cattle, seemed just fine, a hint of scent down by the creek but the day was done, so we thought. The cattle charged the hounds who ran toward the road. Becky, not a second’s hesitation, rode right at the cattle driving them down to the creek. Thank God, Priscilla, Sue Satterfield and Jane Andrews, each leading a field, flew up to the fence line. Hounds now had a wall of horses as Becky kept pushing the cattle down and away. Everybody made it to the trailers in good order. Quick thinking, good work. Cheers for all.
The next hunt at the Cistern, colder, saw another long run with interruptions. The best part was the coyote they were chasing ran 6 feet in front of John Morris walking the fixture. Fearless fellow, both of them!
Before signing off, I must mention the Fashion Show, November 13 at the Paramount. A smash. We wondered if anyone would come to this inaugural event. Come, the place was packed. The string quartet established the mood, Dorothy Chhuy’s paintings put us right into the foxhunting vistas and the models, walking down that runway like pros (some were) displayed the best turnout ever.
Mark Catron came up with the idea, organizing most of it. Marian Maggiolo of Horse Country selected the models, the clothes, the music for the runway. Truly, it was fabulous. Lynn Lloyd, MFH of Red Rock Hounds, flew in from Reno, Nevada for it and Jane Winegardner, MFH of Woodford Hounds drove over from Lexington, Kentucky. Grosvenor and Rosie Merle-Smith, MFH of Tennessee Valley Hunt as well as their daughter Nicolette added to the MFH number. There may have been more and forgive me for not knowing all that. I was working the show, a little lecture with slides, thanks to help from Dee Phillips, on the history of hunting fashion. Did anyone remember the talk about fabrics, cutting on the bias, garters? No. They all remember underpants and bras. What fun. Lynn wants me to bring this to Reno. Now Marion and I and Mark are not exactly unwilling but it has crossed our minds that we may encounter strippers. Mercy. I think Mark is already looking at flights. Marion and I are scandalized, just scandalized.
Speaking of coming up with good ideas, Ronnie Thornton kicked off our kennel upgrade with a challenge. She threw a big wad of cash into the bucket. It worked. What a fund raiser. I am reminded that fundraising is the second oldest profession. I must remember to ask Ronnie about that. The money rolled in and then Mark Catron dropped off a load of two by sixes. The next thing I knew the kennels were full of men wearing tool belts and two women as well, Sara Bateman and Kathleen King. Show me a girl with a power drill. Actually show me anyone with a power drill. The workmanship was precise and pretty fast. What a huge difference this has made already. We will save money on our electric bill, keep the water warm no matter what the outside temperature, and keep the hounds cozy, too. We are already saving man-hours. John and Toot are thrilled.
I do not have a list of everyone who worked on this project. If I can get one, I will publish it because we had quite a team. I cannot thank you all enough.
On another note, I ask your indulgence. Due to all that has transpired plus my rewrite (finished!) I have not gotten the jump signs painted. If I can get the fixture card put to bed, I will get the materials to the sign painter before Christmas. If not, immediately there after.
The response to this idea has been wonderful. I had not a clue to what an educated group you all are. Better yet, we can and do ignore it when we feel like it. Thank you for your patience.
What 2017 will bring us, I don’t know but I know we are equal to it.
Up and over,