Open days are held on a monthly basis by the INFF, and we were asked to come along to the June open day to demonstrate hauling wood with a horse, and so we did.
There was a big pile of coppiced hazel waiting for us to be pulled from the coppice area back to the yard, and there were logs stacked in the yard to show how to handle bigger pieces of timber with a horse. People were slow to turn up in the morning, given that it was a Bank Holiday Sunday with many other events going on all over West Cork, but from 2 p.m. onwards, the yard filled gradually. Many families with children took the opportunity to explore the wonderful woods surrounding the estate, wander around the walled garden and watch a green furniture maker and a blacksmith at work.
And then there was Henry, patiently waiting in the yard for his turn to show off his skills. So we wandered down the soft and shady forest trail and along the mown path through the wildflower meadow towards the coppice, where a group of eager children helped us prepare a stack of branches for Henry, which he pulled the 1km or so back into the yard in routine fashion. After five trips, the wood was all in the yard, ready for use as building material. Henry then showed off his true strength, pulling a bigger log out of the pile of spruce stacked in the yard. By practical test we found out that it takes seven children to get the same log to move a few inches by hand!
Of course, there was lots of opportunity for everyone to give Henry plenty of attention and many small hands patted his neck and stroked his nose, any the many questions asked about work horses shows that there is keen interest amongst people to (re-)learn about real horse power.
All in all, a very pleasant and enjoyable day out, and given the lively interest from everybody, plans are on their way to run a taster logging course somethime this autumn at Manch!