I’ve always said I’d never be interested in horse-powered haying because of the heat and sun of ideal mowing weather. Yesterday changed my mind when I saw it in person for the first time. Yes, I have a sunburn, but I managed to avoid heat exhaustion, and the soul-satisfying nature of the work really captured my attention.
The invitation to watch Guy Landers and his colleagues mow seventeen acres came from a fellow member of the Northern Colorado Draft Horse Association. Virgil Taylor did a great sales job encouraging me to make the two-and-a-half hour trip to Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming where the hay meadow was located. Three teams and four teamsters set to work cutting what turned out to be a better harvest than expected given our drought. The plan was to rake the next day with horses and bale with a tractor and baler if weather conditions allowed.
I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Virgil and Guy when they weren’t working. The enjoyment they get from working their horses came through in our many conversations over the course of the day. Guy’s son Pak was on the lines quite a bit; Pak is the fifth generation of the family to make hay from that meadow, an impressive continuity in our region. Undoubtedly at least one of Guy’s nine grandchildren will eventually continue the tradition.
During a morning conversation with Guy, I mentioned that I’d once said I’d never mow with horses and that the day had already changed my mind. By mid-afternoon Guy was trying to get me on a mower and take the lines. I declined since my experience driving a team is minimal and I didn’t want to impede the job at hand with my novice skills. By the end of the day Guy had invited me to come up to his place again for a lesson followed by real work. I know there was a twinkle in his eye when he said he’d learned never to say never. And I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to helping me eat my words in that department!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012