Garden Diary - March 2018

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Doctor, Dentist, Farrier at Howell Living History Farm
Saturday, 17 March 2018

Another interesting Saturday on the farm, Howell Living History Farm, that is. Keeping to the techniques and farming practices of 1890 to 1910, there's work to do year-round. Just as a tractor needs regular maintenance, the horses need visits from the horse doctor (today known as a veterinarian), the dentist, and the farrier who will shoe them. Today is a busy day.

Chester looks out of his stall, curious to see
what's going on. Lots happening today.

English sparrows flock in the barn, picking through
the fresh manure for undigested grain they can eat.

The horse dentist is here, filling Jeb's teeth
as he patiently stands still for it. Horses teeth
develop sharp edges that can cut inside their
mouth unless they are periodically filed down.

Pete Watson, director at Howell Farm, is
ready to help the farrier set up, then shoe
Jeb, a Belgian thoroughbred cross and one
of the six draft horses here on the farm.

Horses need to have a visit from the farrier about every 8 weeks. Just like our finger / toenails their hooves keep growing. Even if the shoe is still good the hoof needs to be reshaped.

Charles, the farrier, gets to work. But Jeb is not happy. He's used to being shod in the barn. So visitors can better see what's going on, now he's in a different space. He puts his foot down. He leans on the farrier. There's a shiver, a tremble in his flank.

And when a 1700 pound horse won't cooperate it makes things difficult.

Horse and Charles, the farrier, move back to the barn. And now
that Jeb is calm and relaxed everything goes more smoothly.

Outside, visitors are trying their hand at making firewood.
The wood is ash, from trees killed by the emerald ash borer.

A two person bucking saw has a straight back,
and is somewhat stiff. It's hard work to cut the log.

Then the cut log must be split. Ash is easy
but that's still relative. Makes good firewood.

Elsewhere, a blacksmith is demonstrating his craft. He makes
and repairs things made of iron. A farrier shoes horses, mules,
but is not necessarily skilled in the craft of other iron work.

There's something special to see today. This morning a new lamb
joined the flock. The ewe is making the sweetest sounds. Not a bleet
or a baa, almost a cooing, sort of purring. She's licked it clean and

now it's time for the newborn to lurch to its feet

and get a drink of that all-important colostrum. How contented
the ewe looks. Soon there will be more lambs here at Howell.

Saturdays always have something fascinating when I come to the farm.

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