A Tale of a Hike. And a Horse.

Years ago, Sweatiepy and I were at one of those wonderful Christmas dinners at his work that you are required to attend, but you really wish that you didn’t have to be there. At one point during the event, we started talking to the “Big Guy’s” wife (you know…the boss of his boss of his boss of his boss, blah blah blah)and while making small talk she asked us where we lived. We told her the name of our town and she got very excited about it…wanting to talk about the Amish and the produce auction that is in our town, and eventually she asked us if we owned any property. We replied that we did own some acreage and how nice it was for the kids to run around on it, blah blah blah, and then she got real hushed and said “Now do you have to mow all of your property or are you able to keep some of it natural?”

Sweatiepy and I both got a good laugh out of that one. We’ve always considered our property to be a terribly huge, big mess of weeds, but if you want to be nice and call it natural, we’ll take it!

On our ride home from school last night the kids got a bee in their bonnet and informed me that it felt like it had been FOREVER since they had been in the woods and could they please, please, please take a nature hike if they got their homework finished right away?

Normally, nature hikes go under the list titled “Dad Activities” in our household….but, Dad is gone for two nights for work functions and I decided that it sounded like a fun thing to do on a beautiful afternoon. Not too long after we got home, the kids and I took off through our big patch of natural property on a nature hike.

I have very few “rules” or requirements when it comes to nature hikes around here. The four I can think of are:
1) Play clothes are required (old clothes that I won’t care if they get muddy, stained and torn)
2) Everyone has to carry their own plastic baggie of “treasures” that they find (Mom is not going to carry it for them)
3) No one is allowed to save any berries or (God forbid!) eat any berries
4) And they have to let Mom take lots of pictures of them. 🙂

And boy, did we ever see some cool stuff out there!
(One of our nature items that we spotted was the beautiful Goldenrod weed that you can find in an abundance around our property right now…this is the same Goldenrod that is also killing my allergies. The coolest thing that we found though? A super-awesome Walking Stick bug!)

Now…this is where we get to the horrifying part of our hike. Sweatiepy and I noticed a couple days ago that when you look out our back door, past the barn and over the very back part of our property, there are buzzards flying all over back there. Tons of them! Before I entered the woods with the kids I warned them that there had been a lot of buzzards flying around so that meant there was probably a dead animal in the woods somewhere and it will probably stink. I also went into a big long explanation of how we should never go near a dead animal, it has really bad germs and…basically I bored them to sleep with my “germs” lecture. But we don’t need to talk about that.

Will informed me that it was probably a dead horse. (?) When I asked him why he would think that there might be a dead horse (of all things) in our woods he replied “don’t you remember that big horse skull that dad found back there one time?” He was right, Sweatiepy had found a horse skull in our woods a couple years ago, but I had decided I didn’t even want to know why a horse skull would be in our woods so I promptly forgot about it.

You are not going to believe this, but when we finally reached the back of our property where the stench was unbelievably strong…there was a huge, dead workhorse laying on the Amish property behind ours. And there were buzzards everywhere. Either the horse keeled over while it was working back there or the Amish drug it back there, but I am so completely disgusted about this that I’m about ready to call the health department…not that they would do anything about it.
(And yes…that picture is the proof that there actually is a dead horse laying behind our property.)

Other than the dead animal part of our hike (I still shudder to think of that), the rest of our adventure was as fun as it should have been. I was amazed by the wealth of information Will has stored up in his head…things he has learned during his nature field trips at school and on his numerous visits to our woods with his Dad. I’m telling you, that kid has a mind like a steel trap.

And, having an afternoon of the kids discovering things together and doing it cooperatively without any bickering or arguing?

All you moms out there know…that is completely priceless!