Thursday, January 22, 2015

Working with horses on an Amish farm

Under the Heavens, is all about that!

This was one of our cover options for Under the Heavens 

Have you ever looked through the pages of a Draft Horse Journal? If not, you are really missing something wonderful. The Draft Horse Journal is a beautiful magazine that is published quarterly. It is full of well written stories, articles and best of all pictures! Yes, even the advertisements are full color pictures of the most amazing draft horses you've ever seen.

Here are the links to their Facebook page and main website
DHJ Facebook page                    Draft Horse Journal

They also review books!

I took a snapshot out of my copy of The Draft Horse Journal so you could read this review. (with permission from the nice folks at The Draft Horse Journal)

Amazon Link for Under the Heavens

If you are interested in reading about life on an Amish farm, or working with draft horses... this book was written just for you!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter on the Farm

Wild horses thrive out west, even in the worst conditions. Yet, people worry about horses on a farm getting cold. Horses are as tough as deer or buffalo. They have it made on a farm where people are providing food and shelter.

Up until around 1920 almost everyone depended on the horse for transportation year around. The Amish help us "Englishers" get an idea of what our great-grandparents lives were like. It wasn't quite like... getting in a warm car, in a heated garage, and jumping out to run into the mall.  Someone has to harness up a horse and hitch it to the buggy before going anywhere. Those buggies don't have a heater in them either.

When you get home, no matter how late, someone has to un-harness, brush and feed the horse. Wintertime is get-by mode on a farm. Amish are hardworking people, who are rarely caught unprepared for cold weather. Barn full of hay, crib full of corn, pantry loaded with canned goods, woodpile heaped up, they are ready for whatever winter brings. When the weather is really bad, chores can take all day. 

You might have to use an Ax to chop open the water tank. Spend extra time bedding down livestock with a fresh layer of straw. Plow snow or shovel the walk. Imagine how nice it is, to finally get inside after fighting the cold for hours, and then sit close to a wood burning stove with the smell of homemade bread circling around you like a wreath. 

 In the picture below, you can see that we have a few Amish homes in Kalona. The city is accommodating for Amish, even providing a shelter for tying horses while shopping.

James (pictured below) is using a team of draft horses to plow snow out of a drive. He is 16 and not sitting on a couch, playing video games, or texting his buds. It was -4 when this picture was taken and this young man is getting a job done. Molly and Mary (his team of Belgians) are more-than-likely happy to have something interesting to do, rather than standing around looking over a fence.
Photo courtesy of Laurie Erwin Gabbert
Interested in reading about Draft Horses and Amish? Read my novel...
Under the Heavens

Friday, January 2, 2015

Horse Barn

My wife's grandparents moved to this farm in 1918, when they got married and left the Amish. They became Mennonites, which was not a very big jump back in 1918.

This building is actually a corn-crib. We are not sure when her grandpa built it but it seems by the type of structure, that it must have been in the 30's or 40's.

My wife's parents moved into a small house out back when they got married in 1948 and farmed as partners with their parents for a number of years.

My dad-in-law tells stories of the two couples working together, milking a dozen cows by hand. I can just imagine that scene. He said that he would sit on one side of the cow and his new wife would milk from the opposite side.

Like most farms in 1948 they had 12 cows and 12 sows.

When my wife and I moved here in 2000, I converted this corn-crib into a horse barn. My dad-in-law was also a plasterer for a living. He stuccoed the outside of the crib making it very tight and useful as a horse barn.

I store hay in one of the cribs and made a hallway out of the other. You can see my horses reaching their heads into the feed bunks in the hallway.

My sweet little granddaughters love our draft horses and beg to sit on their backs. Karm and Coke don't seem to mind at all. In fact, I believe they love all the attention my five grandchildren give them.