Friday, February 27, 2009

Jack is a Star, continued...

So Jack had been to visit the Amish folks in Neillsville, Wisconsin last winter. and when Solveig finally got me talked into driving him this fall, he and Julie ran into the woods the first time we tried switching Julie to the left side, which freaked her out as much as Jack. She’d always worked on the right side of Bessie before. Luckily that time they didn’t break anything, but boy I tell you what, that’s when I’ll have my first heart attack. I hate the runaways.

Then over to Donny’s, who lives across and down the road a quarter mile from the pasture at Betsy’s. We put in a few two-hour sessions, driving the new team (not far) down the road, with local motor traffic alerted to the potential for disaster, and with the Fearless Finlander (who’s never worked with horses before) holding their halters when I hooked up logs, we managed to get a few drags out each day. However, one day when I set the lines down to hook a log up they took off in spite of Donny’s steadfast halter-holding, and ran across the landing. Thankfully they went on either side of a spruce stout enough to stop them, exploding the team lines into four pieces, stopping when they hit the eveners. At least I didn’t have to run all the way home to Betsy’s. This time they got a spankin’. I tied them to a tree in their accustomed parking place and drove home, an hour round trip, to get the new set of lines I got with the harness, but never used. Then we made a couple more drags before taking them home. That’s about all I got done with them before they had to go to Cascade for sleigh rides.

The ground had frozen about a foot deep, and it waited long enough (the middle of December) before it started to snow. I got the sleigh loaded and hauled on the flatbed, went back and got the team (it’s only five miles down the hill from Betsy’s to Cascade) hauled down and fenced in just before dark. It snowed a lot the next day, my lucky day, getting the team hauled the day before the roads were no longer dry.
Something else had to go wrong since the hauling didn’t, and this time it was the horses. It was dark and they wouldn’t settle. Usually a couple-three hours is enough so you you know they’ll stay in a new enclosure, so long as they aren’t alone. Even though I walked them around and showed them the wire when I turned them loose in there, they kept looking over to the West like they wanted out there. Then when I was standing by the gate, also on the west side, Julie of all people, who should be better at this, came right toward me, stretching the gate wire across her chest. I slapped her lips with the gloves in my hand, and she backed off. I had hoped to head home before that happened, but it was looking more and more like I’d have to stay there and make sure to catch them before they got to the highway, even if I had to sleep in the pickup. Jack just kept standing in the northwest corner looking like he wanted to check out the west fourty.
I humbly took my hat in my hand and asked if I could pitch my sleeping bag (which I had fortuitously forgotten in the cab last summer) on the floor of the proprietor’s home. Michael and Maureen, who had formerly been my mere acquaintances, invited me in and gave me their homebrew to take the edge off, while I rose occasionally to look out the window or step out onto the deck and see if the horses had made their break. I slept in the lower level room of one of the daughters, where I could sneak out and water and check on them, which I did at 1:30 and 4:30 A.M. without incident... and so did they finally settle there on the lovely banks of a feeder stream near the mouth of the great Cascade River, for their winter of hauling tourists around. (To Be Continued again...)

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