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Happy Tail for Father's Day: Mr. Taylor's Farm
Father's Day Memories: Sunday was her day with her dad, and he introduced her to Mr. Taylor's Farm
The next earlier Happy Tail: Happy Tail: Win a few. Lose a few Posted June 8, 2014.
By Peg Schaeffer
I've loved horses as long back as I can remember. I inherited that from my father. I watched every TV show and read every book about horses I could. I had toy horses to play with and built barns with wooden blocks. My greatest dream was that someday I would own a horse of my own.
Sunday was my day with Dad
My parents were divorced and Sunday was my day with Dad. We would always do something relating to horses. Sometimes he would take me for rides through the country and I'd love to see horses grazing in the fields.
One day while we were on our Sunday search for horses we came upon two black horses with their heads over the fence. We stopped and I fed them grass I pulled from the side of the road. Across the street from them was a black and white horse alone in a pasture. I went and visited with her too. To me there's nothing better than the smell of a horse.
Mr. Taylor's farm was just a mile from Mother's house
It turns out this farm was about a mile from my Mother's house. So from then on every day after school I would jump on my bike or race through the fields to Mr. Taylor's farm. Mr. Taylor had 6 draft horses that were his pets. They had never been harnessed. Some of them he had raised from foals. I always brought carrots with me. Four of the horses were tied in straight stalls. There was Becky and Babe, two black Percheron mares that were mother and daughter. Babe was the dam and Becky was her daughter who was half Morgan.
Next was Prince. He was a bay gelding that was also half Morgan. Next to Prince was Feller (named after the baseball player, Rich Feller). Feller was a gray Percheron stallion with the longest double mane that almost touched the ground. His long tail did touch the ground. In a box stall was Susie, a black and white Pinto mare. Then outside in a pasture with a run in shed was Mike, another Percheron stallion.
The first thing was to give each horse a carrot
The first thing I did when I got there was to give each horse a carrot. They all would nicker when I opened the barn door and start pawing anticipating their treat. After that I would clean each stall. I was only a little girl in the 6th grade at the time yet I would clean each stall without being asked. I felt bad for these horses that spent the day tied in the barn. After all the stalls were cleaned I would brush each horse, talking to each one, telling them about my day.
Mr. Taylor and I hardly talked
Mr. Taylor and I hardly talked. He was always quiet and I would seek him out when I got there to say "hi" and then would work with the horses. About the time I would finish Mr. Taylor would milk the two cows he had by hand. I would sit on a stool behind the cows and watch and maybe say a sentence or two or would ask him a question about the horses.
Sometimes he would surprise me and squirt some milk into one of the cats' mouths. Most of the time he would just go about milking, never looking up. I remember one day he asked me if I'd like to try some milk fresh from the cow. I took a sip of the warm milk and nodded when he asked me if I liked it.
Percherons stallion fed after cows were milked
After he milked the cows he would feed the other Percheron stallion, Mike. He would take the hay fork and stab a large mound of hay and sling it over his back and go out to toss it to Mike over the fence of his run in shed. I would follow behind him just to look at Mike. Mike was a mean horse and I never got to pet him.
He would lay his ears back and show his teeth at me whenever I got too close. I would day dream about the day I would pet him and him and I would become best of friends. One day I leaned over to pet him. He charged at me and swung his head into mine and sent me flying. That was the first and last time I ever tried to pet him.
There were goodbye carrots, too
After Mike was fed I would give each horse another carrot and say "good bye" to them. I'd let Mr. Taylor know I was leaving and would go home. I did this every day, never missing a day unless I was sick, except Sundays, which was my day with my Dad.
Sometimes he would take me to Mr. Taylor's and we would visit with him and his wife in their farmhouse. Mr. Taylor would be a little more talkative when I was with my Dad but mostly Mrs. Taylor did the talking.
Mom worried about a young girl spending so much time with old man
My mother always worried about me spending so much time at the farm with Mr. Taylor. She just didn't think it was right that a young girl should be alone with an old man. But he was never inappropriate. Heck, he hardly ever talked to me. He always walked with a bad limp but I never asked him what happened.
In the summer the horses were turned out in the pasture all day. So I didn't have to clean stalls and could just visit with the horses. Mr. Taylor had a house on the top of the hill that he rented to the White family. It was a family of 13 and sometimes he would deliver milk to them. I'd ride in the back of his pickup truck and hold the milk can so it wouldn't fall out. I was fascinated with such a big family and the dynamics and loved to go there to visit.
Mr. Taylor had a band barn
In the summer when Mr. Taylor cut the fields for hay I'd be there. He never asked me to help but I would. Some of the older White boys would work for him gathering the hay. He didn't have a baler so it was just loose and they'd stack it on the hay wagon and then into the hay loft.
Mr. Taylor had a bank barn which is a barn that is built into the bank of the ground. The hay loft was level with the ground but yet you would walk around and the downstairs was also level with the ground. When it was time to feed the horses Mr. Taylor would open the hay loft door and toss the day down to the horses and the cows.
Susie, the Pinto, was a sweet horse
Susie, the Pinto, was a sweet horse. She was big and gentle but she couldn't be ridden. She had gotten colic (a stomach ache to horses) and as a result had foundered, which lames the horse. But she still got daily carrots and brushing. Becky and Babe were the black beauties.
Babe was huge and had lips that flopped. She'd lick my hand and was so kind. Becky was not as sweet. She was grouchy and you had to be careful that she didn't bite you. I always said if I had a little girl I would name her "Rebecca Lynn" after Becky. Feller was so handsome and I loved his thick mane but Prince was always my favorite.
Biggest treat was riding Prince
My biggest treat would be when Mr. Taylor would ask me if I'd like to ride Prince. Of course I would nod excitedly and have a grin that covered my face. He would catch Prince and put a bridle on him. Prince hated to be bridled and I can still picture Mr. Taylor holding him by the nose as Prince swung him around the corral fighting not to have the bit put in his mouth.
But Mr. Taylor always won and then I'd get to ride Prince. It might have been only for 15-20 minutes but those rides were what carried me through. It would be weeks before I'd get to ride again but I never minded. That's what kept me going was the anticipation of riding Prince.
Sunday was my day with Dad
I was in the 7th grade when I got ponies of my own. I was so excited and couldn't wait to tell Mr. Taylor. I still went to his farm after school but on Friday's I would go to my cousin's house, where we kept my ponies, and spend the weekends there. Then when I was in the 8th grade we bought a farm of our own and moved away. I told Mr. Taylor I was leaving and although we hardly spoke I sensed he would miss me. My last day I went to say good bye to him and his horses. He gave me a present - a pair of spurs.
I would go to visit him once in a while after we moved but the visits were few and far between. He called me once after I moved. He had fallen out of the hay loft while throwing hay down and broken his hip. He wanted me to take the horses. I couldn't do that.
They were all big horses and would cost so much to feed, plus I now had several horses of my own. He was afraid someone would work them or abuse them. Rather than sell them Mr. Taylor had them all euthanized. He died not long after that.
I still have the spurs. They hang in the doorway to my bedroom as good luck. I've never worn them. They're just for decoration. But I think of Mr. Taylor and his horses every time I see them and those wonderful days at Mr. Taylor's farm. Rest in peace Mr. Taylor. Happy Father's Day. - Peg Schaeffer
Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This story was posted on 2014-06-15 11:48:15
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