Archive for December, 2008

Moving Horses










 First, I have to tell you about the horses.

I wrote this guy who logs with horses and teaches folks to do the same, and who’s been breeding and working Suffolk draft horses for more than three decades now.  Emails followed, a conversation was struck up, I told him my intentions for working my farm and woods with horses, and somewhere in there the question arose, how soon would I be looking for my team of Suffolks?

I am never one to wait until the last minute to do or learn to do or get the things I’ll need to do, anything.  So I said, I’ve got the money right now, I would just need to find someone who could use them and work them for three years until I finish this Navy gig and finally move to my farm.  Thinking to myself, that would take a lot of planetary alignment to make happen, but what the hell, I’ll mention it.

The conversation continued, and a couple of emails and phone calls later, we were discussing a team of Suffolk mares he’d pointed out for sale down in North Carolina, and he said he had a couple of young apprentices training with him there in Virginia that would be good candidates for the sort of arrangement we were talking about.  The idea in essence:  they use and work my team as their starter team, breed them both and keep the foals, then return them in three years as an experienced team for me to begin my work on the farm with, rather than me having to find and buy a green or barely-worked team and struggling with my learning curve as well as the horses’ that first year.

Well, the North Carolina horses didn’t work out – the seller got cold feet when my conversation turned serious and I mentioned the need for a breeding soundness exam (they were both maiden mares, 9 and 10-years old).  But I’d already emailed another fella up in Michigan, who was getting out of raising Suffolks because his heart surgery had slowed him down, and had a younger pair of mother-daughter Suffolks for sale.  They were big and built right, with good feet and the kind of conformation that would add a lot of good foals to the dwindling gene pool of this endangered breed of American work horses, and the only other buyer interested was an Amish farrier who would not have bred them, just worked them.  So I bought ’em.

And now we’re trying to get them hauled from Michigan to Virginia.  And it’s winter.  And the ex-wife of the seller who agreed to get them there by the end of November, has had some issues and is only just now able to do the haul.  We’ve got a three-day weather window this week, with clear skies and next-to-nothing precipitation forecast, but I’m here in Africa unable to be reached by phone with only email to coax this process along.

So today, or tomorrow, this will happen, or it won’t.  I am waiting to hear.


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We’re almost three years into farm ownership, and still a long way from actually having “boots on ground” and starting operations, but the story of building our little farm has begun, so I’d like to share it as we go along.  Some of the chapters are already on the farm website; brief descriptions of why and where we’re doing this, and an overview of the projects we’ve accomplished thus far, but I will fill in details and more of the personal background here as I get time.

So expect a little jumping around, and I hope it doesn’t make you too dizzy.  I’ll tag and categorize as best I can, and add links to the webpage where the two threads coincide.  Ultimately this blog will be my regular farm-journal-with-musings, and the website will be the more permanent show-and-tell forum for the farm.

What’s going on now:  I’m currently deployed to Djibouti, Africa, with three years remaining to retirement from the Navy.  The folks at the farm are doing well, and are looking forward to our upcoming visit in January, during my furlough in the States.  We’ll stay a few days and knock out some of the upkeep chores like cleaning out gutters, adjusting the shop door, clearing leaves from culverts, that sort of thing.  Biggest event this year is my purchase of two Suffolk mares, which are going to be trained and kept in Virginia by a young couple starting out as Biological Woodsmen horseloggers, until I am moved to the Kentucky farm.  We hope to pop in on them on this trip, so there will be lots to blog about, and pictures, too.

Check back in with me later…

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