Sunday, 27 February 2011

Let them eat gorse.....

Just before the day ended, rain stopped and a brief, low sun came out. Up on Stonechat Hill , over the rust of shadowed bracken, old wilding apple trees fanned out. Silver birches shone tall and white, topped with their deep red canopies of twigs against grey clouds.

A single, lime green splash of mistletoe survived in a lichen covered tree.

Up in the gorse, a distant flash of white tossed from left to right. An old grey pony pulled at sweet young gorse with her sharp, worn down teeth.

Her friend, tucked deep into a thicket, was finding the tenderest shoots to eat.

The bright bay mare chewed and chomped, her back steaming dry in the sun after hours of rain but her belly still streaked wet with mud.

Hunger sated, the younger grey dozed in a patch of sunlight.

Concentration, finding the best new flowers and shoots to prune and chew.

The pale dun mare called Fudge, now almost full grown, tucked her head into the undergrowth as she ground down the sharp, green gorse between back teeth.

Leaving the ponies feeding wild on the hill, Old Dog was allowed off his lead and sprang away free. He ran down the lane to sniff and weave along pathways of invisible scent, under the trees where fox and badger pass in the Forest night.


WOL said...

Gorse is rather prickly, isn't it? Somewhere I got that idea. still, its shoots are tender and green, and I bet they're happy about that. Looks like you had a nice walk.

Bovey Belle said...

They used to have gorse mills here in Wales, where they ground up the gorse for supplementry feed - it is a healthy and good dietary supplement apparently. I can always remember seeing ponies with the most wonderful "moustaches" which stood them in good stead for picking gorse!

Rowan said...

It's amazing what animals eat isn't it? It surprised me when I learned that holly was used as fodder at one time - the thought of eating either holly or gorse with all those sharp spines makes my toes curl yet it mustn't damage the soft inner parts of the horse's mouths.

Kath said...

I love the smell of gorse, it reminds me rather of pineapple.
I love to see the ponies they seem quite at ease with the visitors, human and canine.

rachel said...

No, I had no idea that horses would feed on gorse, or that gorse mills existed either. So educational, blogging!

Morning's Minion said...

I don't know if gorse grows here, but I"m reminded of horses and cattle in Wyoming who feed on the sparse coarse grass among the sagebrush. Sagebrush just after a rain or spring snow has a scent of lemon mixed with something more pungent.
I noted and enjoyed the alliteration in this post--it would read well aloud.