Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hog Farm

        In the good old days Iowa was covered with scenes like this one. Hog sheds were everywhere and big sows could be seen rooting in fields with a litter of baby pigs nearby. Now, this type of view is about non-existent.
I was born in Iowa but we moved to Michigan in 1965. I moved back to Iowa in 1980 and clearly remember seeing hogs in fields all over. From 83 to 88, I worked in a hog confinement operation with close to a thousand sows in house.  That type of operation has taken over the industry and today very few small farmers can compete with those mega farms.
 I miss the old style hog farm!

Whenever I pass by this farm I slow down and look in, remembering how things used to be.  We can't go back in time or even make time stand still, but we can take time to look around and appreciate what is around us.  We never know what changes will take place.

I have to remind myself that the present is tomorrow's good old days.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Horse Pull

 Kalona Sale Barn
 Spring and Fall, Kalona Sale Barn has a draft horse sale.  It's a two day event; equipment and tack on Monday, teams of horses on Tuesday. With all those draft horse enthusiasts here in town, it only makes sense to have a horse pull on Monday evening.  I took a slug of pictures with my cell phone, so that I could share them with you.

Just watching a team get harnessed and ready is a fun experience.

 Our local Amish don't take part in this event or any contest for that matter.  You will see some Amish in these pictures; they are from other communities with slightly different rules.

Watching these super athletes compete is a big thrill for me. I enjoy seeing horses working and it is interesting to see the interaction between horses and humans.

Each teamster has a unique style and each horse seems to have its own pulling form. Some walk upright, others squat and dig, and others seem to almost hop.

 These pulling contests weed out poor handlers quickly. As the loads get bigger, teamwork is critical. Horses that work together well can pull more, and each teamster has a lot to do with that. First, in choosing two horses that compliment each other. Next, in training and conditioning, which takes patience and personal discipline. And finally, knowing how to stay calm during the heat of an exciting pull.  Horses can feel their handlers mood and usually reflect it, some more than others.

This was an exceptional pull, with the sled weight topping out over 12,000 pounds! At the end, there were three teams still in out of nine that entered. All three teams seemed to max out at the same weight and each of the three teams gave more than one try at pulling that last load.

A very important element of top quality horsemanship is knowing when to bow out of an event. If you make your horses try too often on a load they can't handle, they learn to doubt themselves, and give up sooner. Yet, making a successful second attempt on a load, can actually build confidence. Just like with people, we gain confidence from pushing ourselves to our full potential.

Some horses love to pull. Only that kind of horse can have any success at an event like this. Horses that don't enjoy it let you know quickly and wouldn't get far in a horse pull. Some of those horses make great pets and farm horses though. There are plenty of jobs on a farm for a draft horse that wouldn't make it in a pulling contest.

                                         I have a video of part of this pull on my Facebook page                         

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Heavens

 My novel, Under the Heavens, is due out in December.

One focus of the book is skies.  About the experience of being on a farm for the first time and realizing how vast the heavens are. It changes your perspective.

 These pictures were taken on two separate occasions.  The first and third were in the morning when doing my chores.  The others were taken in the evening, when the sky didn't seem real.

You can see my horses have their morning hay dangling from their mouths.

Hues of purple mixed in with these blues add a water color feel to a photograph.  I am not a photographer, just a guy with a cell phone that loves a beautiful view.  My favorite photographs are those that look like a painting, rather than a photo.

Someday, when I retire from the Post Office, I will get a good camera.

If you like these pictures, check out Amish Horses Facebook, and "like" it!  There are several albums with this type of pictures on that site.
                                                            Click on this link:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hauling Manure~

        I bought this manure spreader at the Kalona Sale Barn draft horse sale a year ago.  When I started bidding on it, I realized the Amish man I purchased my horses from was standing next to me.  He started teasing me while I was bidding, "Your not going to pull this tiny manure spreader with that big team of Percherons I sold you, are you?"
       Trying to keep my focus on the bid, I told him, "This spreader box holds all the manure I want to scoop at one time!"

       It also happens that I don't have a lot of storage space and this little manure spreader just fits in my barn.

       When I took my chainsaw to another local Amish business man, to get sharpened, we got talking about my draft horses.  He wanted to know what equipment I owned.  I mentioned my manure spreader and he asked, "Do you have any other livestock?"  I told him, "No."  He teased me, "You only need your horses for pulling the manure spreader. If you didn't have horses, you wouldn't need a manure spreader. That's like the lady that said she needed a car to get to town and they asked her why she needed to get to town and she said, 'To get gas for my car!'"
Obviously, I don't need horses; but if I'm gonna have these big horses, I sure do need a manure spreader!
Karm and Coke provide me with an escape from the pressures of the modern world and plenty of material for my Amish horse blog too.

Not to mention, some beautiful scenery in my back yard and they are awful fun to have in the barn and brush.  You haven't lived until you've stood between a team of draft horses.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Grandchild Artwork

        My grandchildren know that I love horses!  My granddaughter Lyla was with her mother at a store and saw a packet of horse stickers, she asked her mom to buy them.  When they got home she had made up her mind that she was going to make a horse picture for her grandpa.  My daughter told me that Lyla wanted her to send me this collage in the mail.  I like how she has put everything together, especially the way she put a saddle on one horse.  Lyla is my horse girl, I'm afraid she has the same bug I have.  I am including a picture of Lyla sitting on Coke, even though this picture has appeared in an earlier post.

        My grandson Alex is my scientist.  He studies books about sea creatures, especially sharks, whales and sea turtles.  He drew this picture for me, I think it is a Percheron.  I am also adding a repeat picture of Alex and myself.  We took a horse drawn wagon ride a few weeks ago, at our place.

This little horse picture was on the envelope.