Wendyl Nissen serves an animal banquet and is rewarded with a very happy horse and some ecstatic alpacas.
the tale of a happy horse
Do horses purr? I hope they do because I am very sure I heard one purr rather loudly in my paddock recently. My neighbours keep nine alpacas and a horse in the paddocks next to mine, which is nice because I get to stroke the horse now and then, and in the spring I can wake up and find a newborn alpaca just over the fence.
We used to have them all on our two-acre paddock to keep the grass down, but this winter we decided we would plant loads of natives like flax, toi toi and manuka on the land to regenerate it, and also to reduce the amount of run-off ending up in the harbour. So I asked the neighbours to take the animals off.
But… we never got around to the planting. Work got in the way and the kikuyu grew and grew until it was about a metre high with a thick mat underneath. The pohutukawa trees we had planted in an early rush of enthusiasm were barely visible.
But back to the horse. It was the end of winter and I noticed the neighbouring paddocks were really low on grass. Three years ago, when I was fresh from Auckland, I used to think all the lovely paddocks with short grass had been recently mown, but now I realise that because of the slow growth rate in winter, the grass gets eaten down low by the stock.
I looked at my paddock, which was particularly verdant and lush, and suggested to my husband that we should let the alpacas and the horse back on. We could fence the remaining pohutukawa, and the livestock could keep the grass down until next winter, when perhaps we would finally get around to our regeneration project.
The neighbour was delighted and let them back on immediately, which was when I heard the horse purr. I was walking down our paddock to the beach and looked up to see the most delightful sight of the big, brown horse taking huge mouthfuls of grass, ripping them out of the ground. And at the same time she was emitting a “maahahahahaha” sound over and over.
“The horse is purring,” I shouted to my husband who was at the top of the paddock watching with delight as the alpacas also took hurried mouthfuls of green grass, chewing eagerly with their rabbit-like front teeth, their little tails wagging furiously from side to side with happiness.
We were witnessing the animal equivalent of a banquet.
It took them little under a week to noticeably trim down the whole paddock, and I’m sure there will be enough to keep them going until the spring growth kicks in over the fence in their other paddocks.
Meanwhile, any time I feel the need to cheer myself up, I simply look back on that afternoon in the paddock with the purring horse and the wagging alpaca tails and remind myself what sheer joy looks like.
Three years ago, fresh from Auckland, I used to think the paddocks had been recently mown.