Horses 2

When I was about 14, Pa went to a sale and bought a white mare a little bigger than Bird, broken to ride and drive, and I cultivated corn and raked hay with the two of them. [19.122-2]

In the spring one nice Saturday, Marj and I took off, galloping across the fields on the white horses. Pa shook his head, I guess. The horses were feeling awfully good after being idle and well fed all winter. When we got down by the lake, Molly kicked up her heels and dumped me in the mud and took off for home. We both came home riding on Bird, just like Pa expected. [19.122-3]

(Molly was high strung and held her head high and Bird always hung her head, so they were sort of mismatched. Also, Molly was intelligent, but Bird was foxy and sneaky.)

After Bird got older, she got so foundered and lame in the front legs that she wasn't good for much, but she had two foals after that -- the chestnut, Nancy, in the picture albums, and a gray one that got traded off on the first Farmall. [19.122-4]

Someone who had a match for Molly, the white mare, bought her and we bought Polly, a nice, black 3-year-old filly, for $26 at a sale. [19.125-5]

Polly matched Bird better, but I rode her to town one day and that night Ma came into my room about midnight and wanted to know "what on earth" I was doing and what "all the thrashing around" in bed was for. (It was a squeaky bed anyway.) My back was killing me. Polly had bucked me off on the frozen, bare road over by Teisbergs and had hit me in the back with her knee or head on my way down. I had gotten back on and ridden home and my back hadn't hurt too badly until in the night. I wouldn't have said anything about it. I didn't go to the doctor or anything and I got over it again. You didn't run to the doctor for X-rays and stuff like now, and you didn't go to the hospital, usually, unless you were going to die anyway. [19.126-1]

During the twenties and early thirties, the roads blocked up solid in the winter and everyone drove horses to town. Some years the farmers out in Eagle Lake, north of Lake Christina, would make a road onto the lake east of the mountain, come off it on our lakeshore, and drive through our yard on the way to town. Some years they even drove cars by that route, before the snow got too deep. [19.122-5]

Some of the young guys out in Eagle Lake had Model T cars and got awfully desperate to get to town in the winter. Sometimes they would make a track by tying a walking plow alongside a bob-sleigh and driving the horses fast. A sleigh was narrower than a car track, so they got the two tracks pretty much the right distance apart. About four young guys would come in one car and did an awful lot of pushing and shoveling, especially where they came off the lake on the south side of the hunting point and up across our field, through the barnyard and out our driveway. This only lasted a few days at a time, during mild spells, and when the wind didn't blow. [19.122-6]

Marj and I would take turns riding a horse as fast as the horse could gallop while pulling the other one across the lake on skis while holding onto the end of a long rope. Sometimes we tied the rope to one of the small sleds and one would ride across the lake or in and out of the driveway on that, as fast as the horse could go. [19.123-1]

We kept at least one big team sharp shod all winter. The vicious looking shoes had changeable calks, just like steel chisels -- two in front and one in each back corner of the shoe.

The closest I ever saw Pa to being "laid-up" was when a horse stepped on him with sharp shoes. Pa was trying to work a heavy load of cordwood between the trees and stumps and went in front of the horses to inch them through slowly. One big, young horse made a quick plunge forward and stepped on Pa's foot with all his weight and pull. Pa was walking backward and couldn't step back quickly enough. The sharp shoe cut through his rubber overshoe and made a bad cut on the top of his foot. He doctored it himself and limped real bad all winter, but kept on working. You didn't go to a doctor for little things like that. [19.123-2]