May 27, 2011

The Voices of Horsemen

My husband Terry usually lumps computers and "social networking" into the same pile that is, from time to time, spread on the fields by the manure spreader. His wife (me), on the other hand finds the computer and the internet in particular, to be a very useful art medium. Blogging is no different from sketchbook journaling, social networking is so much better than the telephone. Facebook has allowed me to meet so many fabulous characters from all over the world who have important stories to tell about their own horses. I have decided to share some of them here, and hope eventually to compile them into a book. The voices of horsemen, chapter one...

From Michigan horse farmer, Fred Brooks (the photo above is of Fred's grandfather and his team of Percheron mules, circa 1936)...

Cool this morning, but no frost. There was a freeze warning last
night, the cherry orchard folks were up most of the night getting heat
inductors and massive fans ready...but they didn't need them...though
we aren't quite out of the danger area just yet....
Since it has been so wet and cool I haven't gotten anything planted,
though I will travel over to see the Prince this afternoon to pick up
his middlebuster for planting potatoes. I also got seed from him, a
very thick skinned baker that he had no idea on variety...I'll try them.

Traveled to the Jordan River Valley last night, scene of my unproductive
youth, to East Jordan. I visited my Folks, and went over and talked to
Jack Wilson. Jack, if you remember is the guy who had the team harness
for sale. He didn't exactly jump into the car to go out to his son's place,
Neil's, who I grew up with...Jack had problems getting his shoes back on,
and since his last stroke talks to himself a bit.

Jack gew up out in the Valley....tough people out that way, though on
the very strange side. The ol' man had a first name that was
unpronounceable so he went by the name of "Spike."
Jack had a brother by the name of Glen, who I worked with, and went to
school with his boy, Steve, who is now dead, cancer killed him, though
he was left for dead several times; one of those times they found him
froze to the Peninsula Road north of town, nearly bled to death....he
took on the Wiser Brother's by himself, a story for another time.
Glen is still alive, and like his son is lucky to be left up
alive...he has a nasty scare across his throat...back in the 60's he
was working in the woods and fell over backwards with his finger still
on the throttle of the chainsaw, cutting his throat...guess Jack was
out there with him. Glen also owned a horse logging business for a
short while, after he retired from construction, went back to his
roots...Jack owned his own construction company....but he helped
Glen once and a while.

Anyway-I looked over the harness, I think it dates back to the logging
era, I mean the massive logging era...the traces attach to the hames
with eye bolts, I have never seen that before...but everything looked
solid enough to pull out firewood with...and for 60.00 it was a
steal...I told Jack that too. He just told me when he seen the
harness he thought of me and just wanted what he paid.

Another thing about Jack...I never heard him really tell a story...but
he loves listening to them...he has a very infectious laugh, one of
the nicest guys I knew growing up. He could also be a terror in the
bar room.

May 26, 2011

Another Installment of "Spring"

A few weeks ago I posted pictures of some of the spring flowers popping up here at the farm. Now, we are moving into another phase - the Irises are blooming, the Hearts, both white and pink, are sprouting like poets, the Pansies are smiling, and the Lady Slippers are sneaking up through the fern in the woods. After all this rain, everything looks lush. I will enjoy the sweet Irises today...soon, Lilies and Roses will take over the garden!

May 24, 2011

Small Talk

Once again, the Cinderella Carriage made an appearance in Hartford for a Quinceannera over the weekend.

Late in the evening on Sunday, we put a full sized work harness on Jessie as part of her training. The pony harnesses we have been using on the girls are just much too small now. The collar on Jessie is a 22" - not properly fitting but it doesn't need to be at this stage in the game. We are amazed at how big these girls are getting! Jessie just turned 1 - Leila will be a year on June 21. Soon we will "hook" them to Gillette and "ground drive" them around the barnyard.

May 23, 2011

Robin, 'O Robin

Folklore has it that to kill a Robin or destroy her nest, bad luck will surely come to you. I wonder, then, if a nest is discovered, and left unscathed, will the opposite be true? Is not the discovery of those precious blue eggs a blessing in and of itself?

What are the chances of not only finding Robins' nests and eggs in two locations (our property in Colchester and here on the farm in Lisbon), but finding them both on the same day, just an hour or so apart? Is it an omen of good fortune? A divine symbol of spiritual mystery? Or can it be that Earth and her children, no matter what turmoil boils in lands far and near, quietly and consistently seek to replenish all things defined as Good? Selfishly, I hope and pray for the latter.

May 20, 2011

Happiness Is...

...A Warm Puppy!

Meet Lucy, Terry's new pride and joy. He has been thinking long and hard since the loss of our beloved Blue Tick, Penny, about what kind of dog he would like this time. He had entertained the thought of an Aussie and a couple other, very loyal breeds he could take on road trips with him. In the end, however, the bay of the Coon Hound just runs too thick in this man's blood, and simply left him with little option.

Having learned of a coon hound breeder here in Connecticut quite by accident a few days ago, he made a call and secured a female. The odd thing is, however, that we traveled to the shoreline yesterday thinking we were getting a Red Bone - for whatever reason, Terry had it stuck in his head that the breeder had Red Bones. You can imagine our surprise and joy when we drove up to his house to see a yard full of tumbling blue and black puppies! The voice of their father, a handsome show and trial champion, sent chills up the spine! Our little Lucy already displays the good voice of a well bred Blue Tick, and we can not be happier.

In the car on the way home, I drove and Terry held the puppy in his arms. We reminisced about the day nine years ago (almost TO the day, as a matter of fact) that we brought Penny home. We named the new puppy Lucy in honor of Penny Lucia (Penny's middle name came from my mother's, the Italian version of Lucy), and it fits her beautifully. Of course, she is already her "daddy's" girl. She nestles in his arms and looks at him lovingly, licking his hands and face. The old saying goes that a dog knows a man's character better than the man does. Lucy, of course, already knows that her new man has coon hound blood in his veins, and feels right at home.

May 16, 2011

Ten Days...

Here we go again. More than ten days have passed since I last made a blog entry, not for lack of anything to say, but from lack of time. As can be expected, the month of May is a crazy busy one: weddings, Quinceanneras, Sweet 16's, proms, regular contracts, winery tours. Plowing, harrowing, discing, planting. Logging. Buying and selling horses, general upkeep of our own —shoes, worming, spring grooming and clipping. Shopping for puppies, a new (used) car for my daughter, and hay and grain to fuel our increasingly active horses. And we are just half way through the month as of this writing...

Rides, weddings, Quinces and proms are in full swing again, and are joyous this time of year. The leaves are budding, the ornamental flower trees and fruit trees shower us with pink, white and lavender petals. It has been a banner year for pollen in the northeast, too, and light green faerie dust covers everything. The days are intermingled with brilliant sunshine and rainy skies. The rain doesn't hamper us much, though, and we welcome it as we watch our flower, vegetable and herb gardens grow. In between the tender plants and artful flowers spring rapidly growing weeds. The wild birds are gluttons at the numerous bird feeders in our yard, and frogs are once again occupying the fish pond. The pullets are getting big, and the ducks are laying eggs — one has been nesting for some time and I expect to see ducklings soon.

In just two weeks, we celebrate Memorial Day, then we celebrate the halfway mark through the year 2011. Where is Time going to?

Photos: Top: A recent wedding at St. Clement's Castle, Gillette & Diesel on the vis-a-vis.
Second: The Cinderella Carriage with Sam & Cody in Hartford for a recent Quinceannera.
Third: All the teams are being shod. Here Dolly is put in the stocks because the farrier says she habitually leans her massive body on him! Danny, however, has improved and no longer needs the stocks.
Fourth: New hay bales, weighing approximately 1400lbs a piece. The flakes equal an average square bale and one flake feeds a team at each feeding. Also put up this week was a load of first cut Alfalfa out of PA. Half a bale of that highly nutritional hay at each feeding is more than enough for each team!
Bottom: An Amish-made culter packer.

May 5, 2011

Dawn, Bright and Beautiful

The view from the bedroom window this morning was bright and beautiful. Horses stood quietly, likely enjoying the sunshine after yesterday's rain. The trees are beginning to fill out again and it is a reminder that we have made it through a tough winter. From here on in, things will be brighter!

May 2, 2011

Gore Place

Cedar Knoll Farm was in a lovely suburb of Boston on Saturday, at a museum and farm called "Gore Place". It was a "gentleman's farm" for the one-time governor of Massachusetts, Christopher Gore (1806). As part of their annual "Sheep Sheering" event, we participated by giving horse drawn wagon rides and plowing demonstrations. We are told that nearly ten thousand people were there that one day! The lines were tremendous, and it was one of the year's highlights for us, so far, as an enjoyable venue. We are looking forward to returning next year!

Photos: Top: Terry plowing with the new team, Sam and Cody.
Second: Waiting for the tractor to drop off visitors, Terry shared his knowledge of plowing with horses with folks from the city.
Third: Elaine driving Danny and Dakota on the pioneer wagon.
Fourth: Tools of the trade - a 1900 lb hydraulic plow, two types of wrenches and "harness tape" hang conveniently from a lever on the plow.
Bottom: Terry, on what he considers to be "the best seat in the house".