A little more about how we got here

20130104-132034.jpg Ben and Patsy, the first team I was able to use

My first team of horses did not turn out too well.

I bought them just after Christmas and made my first mistake by not driving them before they were delivered to the farm. My second mistake was buying a used harness at an auction. I found out that just because a harness is glistening with harness oil doesn’t mean it’s sound and safe.

I knew I was in trouble when the bit fell out of the horse’s mouth because the bit straps were rotten, and I had better reconsider doing a trial run. That’s when I got to know harness maker Bernie Samson, who set me up with a good harness and a lifetime of good advice.

The first team was Ben and Charlie, a black and a grey Percheron. Ben turned out to be a pretty good horse, but Charlie lived up to his full name, Charlie Horse. He was a real pain in the leg — literally — as he had a propensity to try to kick you whenever you tried to harness him. He must have had some practice as he was quite methodical about it. Thinking I could cure his problem, I tried line driving him single. It went pretty good when we went down the pasture lane and into the back field. Then we turned and began heading back to the barn.

I should have suspected something when his head came up and he started the dance. I think he may have been a little hard of hearing or maybe a bit confused and thought, “Whoa,” meant “GO!” and a repeated “Whoa,” in an increasingly louder voice meant “Go faster.” I hung on for the first few hundred yards thinking a little pressure on the bit might get his attention. I guess the pressure stabilized when I went airborne as he shifted into high gear. I probably would have been okay if it had not been for that stump. To this day I don’t recommend clearing stumps with one’s head.

He waited patiently for me at the barn door then tried to kick me when I went to take off the harness. I said to Charlie,”How about you and me take a ride? ”

He must have been excited because he jumped right in the trailer the day of the next horse sale in Mora. When I was leading him through the sales ring, I got a strange feeling he had been there before.

Someone hollered out from the stands “Is he broke?” I said “No, but I am.”

He sold for about half what I paid for him. I guess this should have been an omen of how my skills at horse trading would turn out in the future. When I complained about this to my advisor, Bernie, he said “You couldn’t have gotten a college education on buying horses for that price. ”

Owning draft horses has brought me into contact with some pretty interesting people. The draft horse books call them “old timers.” Find an old timer and seek his advice, they say. Generally good advice until you ask, “Say how did you get that scar?”

More on adventures from the early days later.

20130104-140315.jpg. A much younger Mr. Ed getting a kid interested in calf riding

A little background on how we got here

20130103-114830.jpgThe old barn had stood empty for many years but still stood pretty straight.

Mrs. Ed (Gayle) and I began a new phase in our lives when we moved to the Iron Range during the winter of 1981. We rented a house in Virginia the first year, bought a trailer house and moved to Hibbing and lived there for the next three years. Every Saturday Range residents receive the Manneys Shopper in their mail boxes. In March I opened the paper to an ad that read “Farm for Sale. Cheap”. The 80 acre farm was in the Little Swan area east and a little south of Hibbing. The first trip to the farm was memorable. We slogged through melting snow banks and mud to check out the buildings. Like many Iron Range farms, the “Pulis” farm had once been a dairy, small grain and potato farm. By 1985 the cows were long gone, the buildings in disrepair and the barb wire fences barely visible in the tall grass. The farm house, as it turns out, was a mining location house moved years before from North Hibbing.

Looking at the pictures now, I wonder we were thinking. I guess we were just a young couple with a dream of having a place of our own. By mid summer we had closed on the property. The neighbors came over with their Ford tractor and helped chop down the waist high grass and brush. We through open the doors and windows of the house to air it out and got busy with the paint brushes. The first animal was a cat who fortunately turned out to be a pretty good mouser. Then came a dog, seven sheep and by Christmas, the first team of horses. More on this next time.


Mr Ed bringing life back to the old barn from the top down.

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Welcome to Mr. Ed's Farm.
Welcome to Mr. Ed’s Farm.