It is my opinion that mowing hay, on the horse drawn farm, is one of the more pleasant jobs to be done there! You wait for a period of fair weather and when it comes there is often bright blue sky, high moving clouds and a small breeze stirring the tall grasses as you enter the field! The mowing, when using ground driven equipment, is a relatively quiet affair. There is the subdued noise of harness and chain, the deep breathing of the animals at work, the snick snick of the cutter bar in the hay, the murmur of gears and cogs meshing in the gearbox and the flow of the cut hay across the cutter bar as the mower advances. For me there is the pleasure of watching the play of muscles across a broad rump and the rise and fall of hocks and hooves on a strong pulling horse! I like the feel of the leather in my hands and the ebb and flow of contact with the horse’s mouth as we move across the field.
I would imagine that at least for those with draft horses, many may have some intention of working those animals in some capacity on their property. These goals will vary from those who would like to do all the draft work on their place with a horse or team, to those who never plan to do more than wagon or sled rides or perhaps a little hauling of materials around the farm or homestead. My main interest is in thinking through some issues I believe those who really mean to use their draft animals, for farm work or logging or for regular hauling projects, may encounter as obstacles to really achieving those goals.
The big horse in the furrow shifted his feet and dropped over on his right hip. The creak of the harness and the soft jingle of the trace chains brought Paul out of his reverie. Almost as if he were waking from sleep he looked around him at the bright world of this field he had been plowing in for two days now. The field lay in a long curve along the hillside, steepening as it approached old man Finch’s woodlot, which covered, completely, the top of the hill, and fell away into the river valley on the other side.
Betty stirred, and bumping Paul’s shoulder, she came partially awake, opened her eyes against the darkness, sighed, and settling carefully against Paul’s side, she drifted back into the darkness of her sleep. The next time she woke there was a rooster crowing in the henhouse east of the house, and a faint light showed in the window, only visible against the darker wall. Coming fully awake, she reached over to Paul’s side of the bed, and though there was a faint warmth there, Paul was gone. She listened to hear whether he was still in the house, and hearing nothing for a couple of minutes she knew he must be at the barn, probably watering the horses in the tie stalls. She knew his routine by now, and also knew that unless there was some sort of emergency in one of the livestock pens or paddocks, he would follow that routine each morning according to the seasons.
Paul’s attention was suddenly arrested by the conversation across the table from him, and he turned and looked at the young man who was sitting there in earnest discussion with Betty. Paul marveled again at the resemblance between the two. Same thick blond hair, same blue eyes the same firm set of chin, and in the young man, broad shoulders, tapering to a slim waist, very capable hands, which had matched Paul’s own, in the easy way in which they had wielded a pitchfork as they cleaned the last of the lambing pens the day before.