Blowing Snow and Horses
January 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment
The blowing snow today reminded me of a photograph that I took a few years ago of horses out in the snow.
The horses were gone at our farm by the time that my memories start. I've only heard the occasional mention of them from my dad and his sisters. Stories of how my great uncle wore out the seats of his pants while my grandfather wore out the knees in his; The implication being that my great uncle drove the horses more often. Another memory, of my dad's, was of riding through the snow on a sled taking milk cans out to be picked up. Perhaps there would be more if I had taken the time to ask.
Remnants of those days could still be found in my childhood. In the barn, well used horse collars and harness pieces hung on pegs. In the machine shed, shafts and pieces of machinery left over from conversion for use with the tractors could be found in the upstairs loft.
Although that era ended before my time, my photography provided an opportunity to learn from some friends a bit about what working with horses may have been like. Tim and Kevin Shanahan of Woodslee were showing Belgian horses and occasionally needed photographs to post on their web page or send to interested buyers. In addition to taking individual horse photos, over the years I was able to photograph farrier work, harnessing, and also travel to competitions and shows with them.
Being around these huge, strong animals provided me with a small insight into the hard work farming and clearing land was. At the same time, how quiet it must have been and how close to the land one must have felt. I like to think that my great grandfather's living on the farm was more by choice than by necessity. Considering that he came from London England, I think that was likely the case.
Looking back over the assessment notices I found that in 1878 there were two horses on our farm. That number increased to three in 1895 and subsequently to four in 1903. It's also interesting to see the number of cleared acres change from twenty acres to forty five acres as the years went by. I wonder if the timing of that increase in cleared land is tied the ages of my grandfather and his brothers.
I wish that there were more photographs, journals, and stories of that time. I find it hard to imagine that there was more acreage in forest than there was in cultivation when my great grandfather purchased the farm one hundred and forty years ago.
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