As we left Bryce and Grace Thompson’s farm the countryside looked a little like a sepia photograph, except we were in it, and immediately our 15 couple of hounds shot off, with a surprising amount of voice after a fox in Greg Manners large corn field. Their wonderful sound seemed to reverberate around the valley.
As I turned around at a short check I wished I had my camera with me, the sun was starting to rise, but it was still a little gray, mist hovering here and there, and steam coming off the horses, made the scene look somewhat ethereal. It was rather a magnificent sight. (Mind you as I’m blind as a bat any chance of me taking a decent photo is delusional!)
We then moved off quickly on the tail of a fox onto the end of Gail and Fred Gardiner‘s land where we collected hounds and crossed North Hill Road, to hit another of Greg Manners cornfields. Few dashes this way and that kept things lively, especially for Wendy Furlong who was going for the Superwoman Award, as she co- led the field, then shot off to whip, then galloped back and shot off again- As I said to Brendan it take a woman to multi task!
As we stood at another check I thought what an interesting sound the very dry corn makes when 31 hounds that you can’t see whoosh by on the scent of a fox, you just see the corn moving and its a little like a small steam train, with the rustling gradually coming closer and closer then fading as the hounds pass by and move on.
We continued onto the edge of the Air Park and watched Helen Hound leap into what we thought was a shallow stream- splosh it was very deep. We splashed our way through only to be faced with sucking sounds as our horses battled a small but very boggy area. My old campaigner Declan got in quite deep up to the edge of my saddle, thankfully he managed to jump his way out minus a boot. At the time it seemed like a bit of an adventure, but all safe and sound and amazingly everyone’s horses still had shoes on.
The next out of the ordinary sound was Steve Farin yelling out in surprise (plus a few expletives!) as a large buck leapt out of the corn and missed him and his horse Newton by inches.
We then rounded Oda Denton’s corn, and hounds seemed to rattle around as did we, and hitting the gravel of the driveway we crunched our way up and down and down and up. Then back onto the old airpark driveway where hounds gave chase to a young cub which they caught. Steve allowed each hound to sniff the fox and praised them, to demonstrate to the younger hounds this is their prey.
By now the sun had risen in the cloudless sky as we moved onto dead center of the valley (the graveyard on North Hill Road) Steve and the whips, MP, Richard, Lauren and trainee Charlie helped collect everyone for a final try and Steve and the hounds drew the hedgerows, and cornfields heading for home. After two and a half hours we arrived back at Sourland Farm- our starting point.
Now the sun was high in the cloudless sky and felt luxuriously warm as we sat and feasted on a wonderful breakfast hosted by Steve Garfield. Sitting enjoying the pleasurable company of friends I could have sat there all day, and it felt like a great day of sights and sounds.