Again this year, we will be at Bantry Agricultural Show on Sunday, 7th September 2014 - for the first time with our horse-drawn carriage! This is bound to be a big day out....lots to prepare! Last year, Henry did his best to impress, here the video again:
One of our summer projects was to build a pizza oven in the garden. But where to take the earth from to cover it, so that it keeps nice and hot for the baking process? Well, the bottom of the field....which seems very far away on a hot summer's day with lots of heavy soil to move. The solution: Henry and his cart! And in no time, we had shifted 4 cart loads of soil - the equivalent of about 20 wheelbarrow loads. For Henry, it was nothing but mild entertainment to break up the day, he did neither huff nor puff nor produce anything resembling sweat....If he only liked pizza - he could have enjoyed a well earned super xxl slice later in the day...
Last week, in wonderful late spring sunshine, two friends generously gave their time and skills to help us get some really nice hpotos for our portfolio. We tried different outfits, styles, poses, backdrops - and the results are some stunning pictures to demonstrate what we can contribute to a wedding: something very special which will make anyone's big day even more memorable! Here is a taster, there are more photos to come on oru gallery!
Winnie and I did a return visit to 'The Hollies', to take on the next step of guiding Podge, work-horse-in-training, through learning to pull the harrow calmly and steadily. Podge is a very eager work horse, he wants to put 150% into every task, so Winnie was the ideal work partner for him, plodding on steadily, untouched by his attempts to make a race out of harrowing the field. This just shows that it is not only the horse trainer who has a responsible job, but that in co-operation with a more expeirenced horse, they can make a great team, tutoring new horses together.
The 'Heritage in schools' scheme (www.heritageinschools.ie) is open to all primary schools - there are many heritage experts to choose from. Our area of expertise is the use of real horsepower in farming - the way people used to farm until not so long ago, and the way some of us still choose to farm on a small scale, using traditional skills and knowledge. Last week, we were asked by the Togher Ballyphehane Community Education Network to come along to an event 'Fork to fork' at the QDS/Cope Foundation under the Lifelong Learning Festival in Cork for a presentation. Henry, once groomed by keen helpers and harnessed, showed off his power by pulling a log, as the yard was tarmaced and unfortunately un-plough-able. We received a lovely warm welcome from all and were well looked after (thanks for having us!), and we were met by all visitors with great interest and enthusiasm. Ages ranged from 4 years to adults, and everyone was taken by Henry's charisma (he is just a very likeable creature), and his great skill of using muscle power to easily move things that would otherwise require the strength of more than 10 people!
It's the time of the year again to plough the ground in preparation for planting potatoes. As always, the horses are a great help. And because we are getting better at ploughing all the time, we were brave enough this year to make a film about it:
Our annual spring course on farming with horses was small this year, but very successful. The big advantage of a small group is that every participant gets lots of time to practise with the horses, and it is much easier to cater for individual interests and needs in a smaller group. This year, we flew threw the long-reining practise and doing some work with the tip cart, and due to the wonderfully dry weather lately, we got around to starting with the ploughing, which was a highlight for the group, as this job, done with willing and confident horses, is very satisfying and really shows what can be achieved with real horsepower. As always, the horses were the key to success on this course - patiently going through each step, from grooming to harnessing to long-reining to actual field work in a patient and cooperative way. What would we do without such talented co-tutors!
How quickly 17th March has come around again...last year, I was sititng amongst mountains of paperwork to see how we could get this wonderful carriage organised, and only a year later, here we are, in the middle of our local parade! Well done, Henry and Winnie, for keeping up the pace!
Recently, Winnie was able to prove her skills as a maturing work horse and tutor. We visited 'The Hollies' in Enniskeane, where young Molly is trained to work the land. She still learns to figure out how to walk side by side in a team with another horse. As her partner horse, Podge, is also fairly new to the task, we tried Winnie as the more experienced horse. And Winnie was great - not fussed by Molly's display of moodiness and attempts to walk as far away from Winnie as possible. Winnie plodded along patiently, round and round the yard, giving Molly a real opportunity to work out how to work as a team and settle into the task. Well done, Winnie. I'm partucularly proud of Winnie, because up until a couple of years ago or so, she was the one who was learning all this - how much she has moved on, and how much she has learned since!