Sunday, November 13, 2011

to the woodpile

Earlier this morning I was outside in the woods, back beyond the barn where trees crashed to the earth just a few weeks earlier this fall. I had a small saw in hand, a rusty little bugger I didn't take care of properly, but it still did the job. I was out there because I wanted to cut up pieces of a cherry tree's upper trunk that Brett had felled at Antlerstock. The plan was to collect some long, heavy logs and harness jasper to pull them to the wood pile before snow fly. It was a gorgeous late Autumn morning, a perfect example of that time of year known as the Days of Grace. The house was warm from the wood stoves, the sun was starting to warm me, and I had a morning of harness leather and sheepdog training ahead of me.

I also had a headache. Well, a small bruise, to be accurate. I hit my head on a steel beam yesterday heaving myself up into a hay wagon at Nelson's Farm and at the time it didn't even hurt, just surprised the hell out of me. But I spent the rest of the day wondering how hard you had to hit your head to worry about a concussion, and then wondering if it was okay to fall asleep later since I read somewhere that you can't fall asleep with a concussion? By nightfall I decided anyone who had the mental wherewithal to spend the day worrying about a concussion, probably didn't have one, or would have been at the very least in serious pain, nauseated, or reeling. So I popped two ibuprofen and went to bed. As you can all witness, I survived the night. I reckon I just have a bump. I have certainly been knocked around a lot harder than that. When I was competing regularly in Tae Kwon Do tournaments I practically did my taxes in a concussed state, but I was living with my parents back in those high school tournament days. Funny how you suddenly worry more when there is no one around to tell you "Shut up, you're fine."

After I pulled some smaller logs out myself, I found the bruiser I knew I needed some horseflesh to bring to the woodpile. The log was from the truck of a small tree, around 4 feet long and about 12" in diameter. I guessed it weighed around 150 or so pounds. I confirmed this assumption when I tried to move it. I couldn't pick it up. I had to stand it up vertically, and then push it down the hill to the path where I had set the singletree and chains for Jasper. I was about a 1/6 mile into the woods from the house. The path was rough, but I decided the pony could handle it.

I went to grab his harness and lead rope from the barn. I walked it up to him in the larger 2 acre pasture where he had spent all of yesterday and last night. It was mild enough for a pony to need nothing but some hay to rest on if he so chose. Jasper let me snap his lead rope on his halter and walk him to the tie out up on the hill I fashioned out of an old apple tree. Within moments the harness was on, the bit in his mouth, the bridle reins at the ready and chains for the hauling in my left hand.

He was a bit spazzy, but manageable. I couldn't blame him, it had been since Antlerstock that we last worked. But for the sporadic efforts we shared, he did his job without a kick or whinny. We walked into the woods and within a few moments the heavy log I had already wrapped chains around was attached to the pony and we were off. Jasper had to put a little weight into it to get started, but once he had it moving, he didn't even tighten his neck. 150+ pounds is nothing to a brute like him. We walked through the woods in quick fashion and pulled the log up to the woodpile. I removed the chains, scratched him on the head and told him he was the most wonderful horse to grace the county.

When his harness was removed, I let him retire to his stall for a breakfast of grain and cold well water. He seemed happy to be back to a civilized place. And now with him out of the pasture, I could open it up to a few older ewes for Gibson's herding lesson later that morning. But for the now, I was happy to remove his halter and pet his neck as he went about his breakfast in the barn. We had just accomplished something anyone with a riding mower or a pickup truck could have done in half the time, but that wasn't the point. The point was a horse and his girl worked as a team, and did it without a tractor or truck, and it made the grain taste better and my apple and bacon feel well-earned. The log is at the wood pile, and that's a nice bit of work before the day hits the higher sun.

9 Comments:

Blogger Barbara said...

Jenna
What a hoot it is to read your posts.
Love how you say your horse enjoys going back to his civilized life in his stable and morning breakfast!
And as to "shut up, you're fine"..wow, glad to know others tell themselves the same thing. I pretty much speak up and say "shut up" to my racing brain about things quite regularly. It does seem to stop those negative thoughts right in their tracks.

November 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Good job Jenna and Jasper!
Since we also haul logs out of the bush, I happened to notice your chain. I was always told to use a hook like this http://www.cooperhandtools.com/_cache/0e6d7045c5ea5d3d35ca59e63668229b.jpg

You turn a link of the chain sideways and the whole link slides into the narrow slot in the hook. The hook can't slide down the chain because the next links are at right angles and won't fit through that slot. A lot easier to get the hook off, instead of putting the point of the hook into the link. Sometimes, with a real heavy load, that hook point can get so jammed into the middle of the link, it takes a lot of muscle to bang it out.
Glad you didn't have a concussion!

November 13, 2011 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger bree said...

Way to go Jasper!

November 13, 2011 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

I love that you are using your pony for this stuff. But it hurts my heart to hear anyone say they cut down a cherry tree on purpose! Unless it was dead. I keep thinking...cherry jam, jelly, cough syrup made from the inner bark and your own bees honey, the list goes one.

November 13, 2011 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thanks guys! Sorry about the low quality of photos, hard to take pictures while holding the reins.

November 14, 2011 at 6:23 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Nice work and accomplishment! Pat Jasper on the head for me, too and yourself on the back!

November 14, 2011 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Good for you both! Now you know you can do it all by yourself with no problems. He sure is a good pony.

November 14, 2011 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger Glee said...

Jenna, I read one of your first books and was happy to see another one in the works. The interesting thing to me is your title. My grandparents' name was Barnhart and I have been yearning my whole life for a farm of my own...I was able to spend 7 years in far northern California in a town of 600, raising goats and poultry and loving it, but am now back on just one acre in a larger town. That yearning just doesn't go away! Glee Salveson, Paradise, Ca.

November 15, 2011 at 1:11 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

If you keep hauling heavy loads with your pony you might want to consider a work harness with collar and hames, instead of the breast collar "driving" harness you're using. The weight transfer is more efficient, and the chance of injury to his shoulders is less. Love reading your blog -- keep up the good work!

November 15, 2011 at 9:27 AM  

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