Sunday, December 30, 2012

Horse Country

That part of Florida more commonly known for it's horses is around Ocala in the north-central part of the Sunshine State. Take Highway 27 west from Ocala and you will think you are in Kentucky, all fields, white wooden fencing and woods sprinkled with horse ranches. The Keys are not most people's idea of a place to keep or ride a horse. But some people prefer to defy stereotype:
The Key West Police Department used to keep their horses here where there have been stables for what seems forever but then they built the "new" stables at Truman Waterfront. I guess winter residents like to bring their horses with them and I suppose the animals enjoy escaping snow as well and even though the rides around here are limited there are trails. Yet I've never seen anyone riding on the backwoods trails I have walked.
The green fence is new and I suppose annoying people are in the habit of feeding the horses. I am not that organized nor do I have the inclination to walk around with carrots or sugarlumps in my pockets but I did enjoy scratching their ears and reviving memories of my youth when my sisters kept horses and took me riding, experiences which never quite matched up to the pleasure I got from inanimate motorcycles.
Nowadays all I can do is look across two rows of fences. I miss the feel and the smell of them, a momentary trip out of the Keys to a more rural past.

Local Chickens

The American White Ibis is my idea of what a wild Key West chicken should be. These local birds are quiet, delicate and superb hunters. Supporters of the crowing scratching chicken population point out they kill insects forgetting these quiet well behaved guys date same without the chicken drama of scratching holes in the landscape. Check out what Wikipedia has to say:

"The diet consists primarily of small aquatic prey such as insects and small fishes. Crayfish are its preferred food in most regions; however, it can adjust its diet according to the habitat and prey abundance. It is a tactile non-visual forager, whose main foraging behavior is probing with its beak at the bottom of shallow water to feel for and to capture its prey."


I was sitting in the car listening to my dog snore as we waited for my wife. I found watching these high stepping hunters serenity-inducing. I watch chickens and wonder why anyone puts up with barnyard animals fouling the streets and sidewalks. Chickens get tourist votes so it's just as well my opinions don't matter.