I believe everyone needs someone to do stuff with. It’s easy enough to get into trouble by yourself, but it’s much more fun when you have a partner in crime. This is true for kids and for retired guys. It doesn’t usually include spouses as they are prone to say “You want to do what?” Not “What the heck, let’s give it a try.”
The best buddy is someone you have a shared passion with. My passion is draft horses. I gravitate toward other draft horse enthusiasts, usually the old timers. Old timers are hard to impress. Tell them what you did or what you are thinking about doing, and they say, “Been there, done that.”
Mr. Ed’s Farm has been a personal dream for many years. The dream started to come to life when I shared the idea with my buddy Duane. He has a few years on me and a much more colorful biography. He grew up on a farm in rural Effie, Minnesota. As a youth, he not only drove draft horses, he worked the rodeo. He knows a lot about horses. What he doesn’t know is fear. He is not exactly fearless but isn’t afraid to try anything.
A few years ago, not long after we met, I had an opportunity to test that theory. It was a Thursday night in January. The weather had been unusually cold. I got a call. Can you bring your horses up to Ely on Saturday and help us harvest ice? Never having done anything like that, I called Duane. “Hey Duane, I got a deal for you. Do you want to go north of Ely on Saturday to haul ice up a hill from the lake to the icehouse? I checked the weather forecast. The daytime high is expected to be 20 below.”
“Sounds like fun,” he said without hesitation.
The day turned out to be very interesting and fun dispute the temperature never getting above 24 below. We used my horses Bud and Mick on Duane’s sled. The ice was cut into cubes with hand saws and bounced out of the water before being loaded on the sled. The steep climb up the bank tested the limits of the horses. I was worried, Duane never had a doubt they could do it.
With the extreme temperature, everyone was dressed in layers with as little exposed skin as possible. At one point late in the afternoon I looked at Duane and broke out laughing. He was wearing one of those stocking face-mask caps. The eye, nose and mouth openings were covered with frost. He was standing by the horses who had icicles hanging from their chins. Duane looked at me and said with a grin, ” You know it’s cold when your nose freezes shut!”