Thursday morning, September third, just past 7:00 am, the sun was rising over high corn fields, alfalfa and late season tobacco fields, much of it soon to be harvested by teams of Belgian mules in Christiana, Pennsylvania. Off of Highland Road, arriving Andrews Bridge Foxhounds members were pulling their rigs onto the edge of a tobacco field. The farm ground was greasy from the prior night of rain and it was the slightest bit humid.
Eighteen-and-a-half couple of hounds waited patiently in the hound trailer for the first meet of the season, away from the kennels, ready for some fresh territory. The young entry had been working hard for the few weeks prior to the season’s start, getting acclimated to their new jobs at the Andrew’s Bridge Kennels fixture, but they were now ready to take on the Slabpile country.
Hounds struck just a few minutes in and maintained a steady pace and strong cry, as only Penn-Marydels can, on a fox that gave us over an hour of sport on the hot, muggy morning. The fox ran multiple loops around the Slabpile woods, dashing between the corn and back into the wooded covert, then to the low thicket, through the unmown field, back into the woods, then the corn. The field, swapping ends and looping with the cry of hounds, gave riders little time to catch their breaths.
Just past the hour mark the chase concluded at a small crick, a handy spot for tired and hot hounds to grab a drink, the perfect end to the day. The horses, drenched in sweat, were able to take a few breaths before the field hacked in, content, behind staff and hounds, chattering about surviving the trappy Slabpile fixture. The terrain was slick due to the rich farm ground and washed out, rocky gullies. The fences are stiff, with coops to be negotiated in and out of mud and three-board fences not yet settled into the earth. Riders negotiate sharp corners and twisted wooded trails, especially tricky going downhill. But out in the open...sheer beauty!
Back at the meet, riders were met with warm and delicious cinnamon rolls, generously made that morning by landowners, Sam and Emma. These were distributed by a barefoot, young Amish boy with a smile on his face. Emma made sure to have her produce stand stocked with fresh bi-color sweet corn, peaches, green beans, watermelons and an assortment of home-canned jams, pickles, and beets so that riders could pick up a few items for dinner on their way out.
We all made our selections and said our thank yous for the fantastic baked goods before heading home—a simple and easy gesture to the family for the use of their farmland for our sport. This Lancaster County fixture, centrally located, is just a stone’s throw from Bartville Harness and Tack Shop, the go-to tack shop for high quality, long lasting hunting tack. It’s an easy stop along the way home, as the road from the meet spits you right into the Bartville parking lot!
This fine and convenient hunting fixture is all possible because of a hard earned relationship between Andrew’s Bridge Foxhounds and their Amish neighbors. The hunt’s dedication to this relationship is a shining example of the importance of communication and respect we all must have with and for our Landowners. Between the large Amish Thank You picnic that is hosted each year, the small hunting fields to lessen the damage done to farm fields, and the utmost respect for crops by Andrew’s Bridge members, staff, and Masters, the long relationship remains healthy.
Posted September 9, 2020