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Erskines Shires
Erskines Shires
The Bohnet family’s Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Days which is held the last weekend of March every year. John Erskine plowing with six Shires and a reconditioned John Deere two bottom with 14″ shares. Wheat stubble with no rocks, how sweet can it be!! Ross, Frank and Emily Hankins providing the supervision and much appreciated help.

Erskine’s Shires

photos by Heather Erskine
notes by Lynn R. Miller

Have you ever known someone well but not well at all? Ever know someone who always made you feel warm and connected to good memories yet who was actually a mystery to you? Is there anyone in your life who you admire for things some of which you cannot actually describe? John Erskine is a special friend of mine, I know him well, yet…

John and Heather Erskine of Monroe, Washington, have been synonymous with the best of Shire horses since before I can remember. They have helped wagon loads of people with their horses and horse adventures. Up at last year’s Sandpoint, Idaho, show John shared a photo album with me that set me right down and I twisted his arm to let me share some of his outstanding pictures with you.

Erskines Shires
Young C.J. Shopbell putting the grain drill away with the help of two friends, a team of High Bridge Shire mares.

In a letter John let me know of his noble ulterior motive. If I were to share some event information with folks I could print the pictures. I am glad to do it, or better yet, let John do it in his words:

“The real reason for sending this gibberish is to try and get photos and copy printed covering the spring plowing days held in Eastern Washington. Starting with the Bohnet family’s Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Days which is held the last weekend of March every year on their farm.

“Then comes the Thomas family’s Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Days which is held every year on a weekend during the first part of April, it depends on what weekend Easter falls, so not to conflict.

“Then Colfax Plowing and Field Days (Draft Horse and Mule Powered) falls a weekend towards the end of April.

“Fewer people (hitches and spectators) are showing up at these privately produced events and people go to a lot of expense and effort to accomodate these plow days.

“I ramble. The thing is we have to get the word out to potential participants and spectators as to where these things happen and when, also try to stimulate their interest so they will attend and keep these displays of horsemanship and the working of the bigger farm hitches alive and well. These events are a great place to learn how to use the bigger farm hitches, etc.”

Erskines Shires
John with two Shire mares hooked to forecart enjoying the old railroad grade next to the Duvall Days ground working in the spring of 1996.

Well John, I hope I did okay by you and Heather with this little spread. You certainly have done and are doing extraordinary things with your outstanding Shire horses. I personally vote that C.J. hire you on regular. My hat’s off to you, the world’s a better place for your thoughts, deeds and footprints. I’ll see you next spring to take a ticket for a ride on the gang plow at one of those eastern Washington matches matches. LRM

Erskines Shires
1994 Washington State Draft Horse and Mule Association annual spring wagon train. Noon lunch stop, sheep wagon with side canvas rolled up. Stuart Mountain range in background.
Erskines Shires
Two High Bridge Shire mares ready to go to work during 1995 King County Parks (Heritage Festival) Draft Horse working demonstrations, an annual affair.
Erskines Shires
John driving (training) young Shire mare hooked to stoneboat feeding the rest of the horses in January. “I can usually get a pretty good do on a horse with all the starting and stopping and the running around of the other horses wanting to be fed.”
Erskines Shires
Donna Thomas driving bay Shire six and John with his Shire six at the Bohnet family’s Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Days which is held the last weekend of March every year.
Erskines Shires
1994 King County Parks, Heritage Festival, Draft horse working demonstration, annual affair. 10 year old C.J. Shopbell disking in demonstration field with team of Shire mares and six foot International disk.
Erskines Shires
C.J. Shopbell riding the Shire mare hooked to the sweep located on the horsepower gear, (him riding is for safety) thousands of people come to watch us run the buzz saw with one horse. Buzz saw turns in excess of 600 R.P.M.1995 King County Parks (Heritage Festival).
Erskines Shires
City of Monroe parade. John driving two Shire mares to the hitch wagon and Heather making sure he does it right and doesn’t get rude.
Erskines Shires
1994 City of Monroe parade. John Erskine driving two Shire mares to a completely rebuilt express wagon and carrying the advertising banners for the Washington State Draft Horse and Mule Association’s Extravaganza. Ed Hewson riding shotgun. Ed Hewson was responsible for this wagon getting rebuilt in his shop (daycare). Ed, Wayne Shira and John Erskine, the day care crew.
Erskines Shires
John driving his Shire six (all home bred, born and trained) with his good friend and boss (12 year old C.J. Shopbell).
Erskines Shires
Same place and time as above but with 11 year old C.J. Shopbell driving the Erskine Shire six while John enjoys the view.
Erskines Shires
The Bohnet family’s Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Days, last weekend of March, 1996 (it’s an annual event). Donna Thomas driving the Anderson six with John Erskine driving his six Shires. Ross Frank is helping Donna and Marlys Butler is helping John. Donna has just made the hairpin and John’s preparing.
Erskines Shires
At 1994 Duvall Days ground working, Erskine herding four strung out on two way sulky plow (International) C.J. Shopbell and Jim Beardsley helping.
Erskines Shires
1995 Duvall days ground working, John driving his six Shires to a two bottom 14″ J.D. Plow in real weedy corn stubble. Gerald Schmidt navigating.

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