I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Opening Meet, of last week, which due to the "Super Storm of Hurricane Sandy”, left our fields wet and sodden, and with so many of our land owners without power, well it frankly seemed indelicate to be out in our finery. But nevertheless the Reverend Spilane graciously blessed our hounds in his wonderful booming voice, and a small group walked them back at a rate of knots to the kennels. Haste seemed to be in order as the pot luck lunch turned out to be a terrific success and we had more than enough food (to say the least!).
The weather this week can only be described as bizarre, one minute 3" of snow and today almost 70 degrees. This Sunday was the first day out in formal attire, and at the beginning of each season I always have those few seconds of minor panic as to whether my jacket still fits from last year and did I sew that button on? but 32 of Amwell gathered looking groomed at Mr and Mrs Kanach’s farm on a beautiful sunny morning along with 14 ½ couple of hounds. The Kanach’s extended family, farm considerable amounts of land in the valley and Mrs Shelly Kanach who is a remarkable 98 years old, moved onto this farm in 1935. I would like to think that this area hasn’t changed too much in all of the years she has been here, and as she enthusiastically waved to us all from her conservatory window, I thought about the view she has after we passed by and rather hoped this beautiful valley will stay the same for at least the next 70 years or so. While the warm weather is delightful in November it is terrible for our hounds to try to pick up a scent, and as we pottered off, the steam from our horses seemed to be rising straight up in the air, a bad sign. I started to think about what the signs are for a great scenting day and thought I'd share the following from an article I read.
Hounds sitting quietly watching our huntsman mouths closed, ready for the off
When the hedges look black, with a sharp outline
Wet weather, but not during or immediately after heavy rain.
Smoke from a chimney hanging in the air, or even better sinking down to the ground
When snow is forecast
A blue haze
Frost coming out of the ground
Gossamer visible in the grass
Hounds rolling at the meet
Evidently the rate in which scent disperses or evaporates is what determines a good, bad or indifferent scenting day and yep not a good day scenting for Amwell. After crossing Kanach’s land, through the woods, which the day before Master Stephen, Steve F and Lauren had cut a trail for us, we went onto land farmed by Greg Manors. We also met up with Ken James with his camera who allowed us to ride along his beautifully groomed paddocks and 26 acre parcel. A couple of foxes were spotted but after almost three hours it was time to call it a day and head back to the meet.
Today was also Veteran's Day and Master Brendan led everyone in a one minute silence to remember all of the brave souls who defended our country. Then onto the business of enjoying the fabulous breakfast hosted by Katy and Kris. So the scent was bad, so a few horses fresh (I won't linger on this more!), but as I watched people in animated conversations I challenge anyone to find a hunt that despite the poor scent conditions, which has such outstanding camaraderie as Amwell Valley Hounds.