Garden Diary - November 2021

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Logging With Horses at Howell Living History Farm
Saturday, 20 November 2021

The field crops are harvested. The cider has been made as has sausage and scrapple. Doesn't mean the work is done. Looking ahead to winter's end it is time to make firewood, both as fuel for the farmhouse 1904 Glenwood cookstove and to boil maple sap down into maple syrup. Remember, that is a 40 to 1 reduction. Several cords of wood are needed, and a cord is 128 cubic feet of firewood, a pile 8 feet long by 4 foot wide and 4 foot high. Fence rails are needed, especially this year when the aftermath of Hurricane Ida destroyed not only four bridges but also the fences for the sheep pastures.

There's a sign at the turn off Route 29, announcing today's event. It's done with horse power.

There are two visiting teams this year. To the left are Maida and Cleo, two Suffolk Punch mares.
They are dragging a log up to the farmyard for processing. To the right are Rex and Rocky. They
are Percheron X Standard Bred geldings and are pulling a cart for hauling cut and split firewood.

The teams swap off on the work. Barry guides Rex and Rocky as they pull logs
into the farmyard. He works them barefoot, no shoes. Of course a farrier does
make regular visits to trim their hooves. Foot care for horses is very important.

Rex is 13 years old, Rocky is 15. In their prime. Rex is the calmer one, who Barry advises
the children may be petted on his nose. But not so Rocky, who has been known to bite.

Tools near the pile of firewood. There are long and short handled mauls, wedges,
and more. Children are invited to try splitting a piece of firewood. They must wear
safety glasses. The very littlest ones get a helping hand from one of the volunteers.

A family of five takes a turn on the two man crosscut saw. Back in the period
of Howell Living History Farm - 1890 to 1910 - cutting wood was laborious work.

Here's Scott Stephens with Maida and Cleo. I think they are ten years old. Today's work
is very familiar to all three, man and horses. That's because it's what they do. Logging
with horses is gentler on the land than machinery. And they're more maneuverable too.

Scott keeps his horses shod. Horse shoes generally need replaced every four to six weeks.
A farrier specializes in hoof care, both shoeing and trimming. Different from blacksmithing.

A blacksmith is at the farm today, demonstrating his skill and explaining what he's doing
as he quickly makes a hook with a decorative heart at the top. He makes it look so easy.

Up at the farmhouse Margaret is sitting on the porch, spinning.
We get a conversation going about differences between felting
and fulling. She neither knits nor crochets but spins and spins.

There's food available for purchase here at the front of the farmhouse. See what's available on the blackboard, place an order and it will be brought out to you. Picnic tables are scattered about on the lawn. I had a serving of meat log - think ground beef wellington. And a serving of rutabaga barley spinach soup that was excellent. Perfect for late November.

Here's a question for you. Is Larry taking Chester for a walk, or is it Chester
taking Larry. Since they both are enjoying themselves what does it matter.

When the fences were intact the sheep kept getting out. Now that the fences
are mostly destroyed from the storm they tend to stay in the pastures. But

image copyright Diane Bates all rights reserved
remember those "if you cannot sleep then count sheep" insomnia suggestions?
It turns out that sheep can indeed jump fences! One, two, three came bounding
over the fence with nary a hesitation. I knew goats could. But sheep? Indeed yes.

Christmas on the farm on December 4 is the next event here at Howell Living History Farm. If the weather is good Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive on the steam traction engine. And if it snows they will travel on a sleigh.

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