Home & Shop Companion #0046
letter from a small corner of far away
Dear Lynn, dear Everyone,
It’s a very wet day today, but yesterday while it was dry and we still had the scaffolding for building the forge, I went up on top of the house roof to replace a couple of slates, check for leaks, and to repoint the chimney. It wasn’t a big job, but because of the height I had been putting it off, so it is especially pleasing to have it done. There is a special type of concentration and physical awareness necessary if you want to safely remain that far away from the ground, so I was tired by the time I finished but still mustered the energy to fetch the horses and return the scaffold tower just before dark, which at this time of year is about half past four.
With the accumulating wet, much of the field is at full capacity, so as of today Lucy is off the grass and with Molly on the track. Where it was dusty a few months ago, it is now muddy there too, and as the mud gets carried round on the horses’ hooves, even the stoned part of the track is not pleasant to walk on, so on really wet days I have been scraping it together then moving it with the sledge after it has dried. Some of the stoned track, where the underlying ground conditions are reasonably dry and where the stone was thick enough, is holding up well to the wet and traffic but some wetter patches are not fairing so well. Last year I dug out a section and removed the topsoil and filled it with building rubble, basically I built road, which stays dry and solid all year, but there are now other patches which have broken down. So this week I have been leaving the sledge nearby so I can load it with mud ready to take away whenever a horse is harnessed, and am slowly filling the holes with rubble left over from the forge building.
The idea behind having the horses on a track is to keep them moving without having endless access to grass, particularly important for horses like Molly which are prone to laminitis. I had only seen this in action once before I tried it here, but they had light horses, so their track probably didn’t get as much hammering as mine. Nonetheless, I do like the system because the horses can always find shelter from the elements, and none of the grazing or hay ground gets trashed for winter exercise.
In other news, by the time you read this, the programme of vaccinating elderly people and health workers in Britain will be in its tenth day. Last week the health minister, with great relief, said that this is the beginning of the end, but I am more inclined to believe Winston Churchill’s famous quotation, made after the first significant victory in the middle of the war, [best spoken out aloud, slowly and with gravity, pretending you have a plum in your mouth] – ‘now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’ – an appropriate place, perhaps, to end my key tapping and go and do some work.
William Castle is a violin maker, farmer & SFJ contributor who lives in Shropshire, England.