A whisper sends Festus on his way

JUST CALL me the Horse Whisperer. Well, maybe my talent isn’t just with horses!

I didn’t know I had such a connection with equine until Monday evening when I was standing in my kitchen and looked out the window to see what I thought was a huge deer in my yard.

OK…maybe I needed to have my glasses on because upon further investigation, I realized the back side of the beast I saw actually belonged to a donkey. Yes, an honest-to-goodness, straight-off-the-farm jackass!

Amazingly, I knew this character personally. His name is Festus and he lives just down the road.

Festus had brought along a few friends when he came visiting. I don’t know all their names but I do know the horse, pony and three miniature ponies all like sugar because that was my bait of choice to rein the herd in while awaiting the arrival of their owner, Cowboy Clint.

I had to fetch the old cowpoke up with modern technology….the cellphone, while I used that old-fashioned way to “rein” in the herd.

It seems, Cowboy Clint had been out looking for the revelers who apparently knew his intentions and decided to play a little game of hide and seek. (I must say they were winning the game and were pretty darn proud of the fact as the meandered around my yard dropping some fertilizer here and there as hints for the one they had selected to be “it,” Cowboy Clint!)

Knowing that their capture hinged upon me, I donned by camo boots, made sure the cellphone was in my pocket, grabbed a few packets of sugar from the kitchen and headed out the door to accomplish my duties as the horse whisperer.

One of the ponies, a palomino, was wearing a halter and soon became my target. Also knowing that she was the leader of the pack contrary to Festus’ thoughts, made her all that more important to my plan of corralling the wayward herd.

I slipped a little sugar into my open hand and walked up to the matriarch. She shivered all over when she spotted the sugar granules on my hand. As she licked away at the treat, I gently grabbed her halter with my other hand.

“OK,” I thought to myself. “I need to call Clint to tell him the gig is up! I have the herd in hand.”

Suddenly, I remember that I only had two hands and they were both busy at the moment…one being licked, the other holding on to the pack leader.

Knowing that releasing the halter could lead to the escape of my friends, I decided to slide the sugar coated hand away from my little prisoner in an attempt to grab the cellphone from my pocket.

This very small action caught the attention of Festus and most of the rest of the herd who instantly realized the sugar hand had gone in my pocket and that possibly the location of the sweet treat.

Before I knew it I had a jackass, horse and two miniature ponies trying to stick their noses in my pocket while I was dialing Cowboy Clint.

Thankfully, Cowboy Clint wasn’t too far away from the Ponderosa and arrived within minutes of the “I’ve got them under control and now it is time for you to get them home” phone call.

He came barreling over the hill in his bright red pickup and the entire herd instantly got a look of disappointment in their eyes. They recognized that truck. At that moment, it seemed they were saying, “We like it here. She has sugar in her pockets and she tells us we are pretty!”

Even Festus, who seldom changes expression, got an even sadder look on his poor ‘ol face: “Oh, no! I don’t want to go home. I think I’ll hang around here for a bit longer. You go ahead and take the girls home. I’ve got important work to accomplish here. I’m staying to fertilize the yard and check out this woman’s pockets.”

So, as Cowboy Clint leads the girls headed down the lane toward home, I realized Festus needed a little extra encouragement to tag along.

“Go on home,” I told the stubborn ol’ boy. “It’s time to play ‘follow the cowboy!’ Head for home!”

However, Festus liked it at the Ponderosa. And being the stubborn jackass that he is, he stayed behind until suddenly I leaned over and whispered into his cute little jackass ear, “I’m out of sugar.”

Those four little words were all it took. Festus instantly joined in the game of “follow the cowboy” and made his way home with the herd!

Sedgmer may be reached at ksedgmer@timesleaderonline.com