All the Horse-drawn Vehicles

Early in November, we decided it was time to organize Bill’s vehicles – his horse-drawn vehicles that is. Over the past five years or so, he has learned how to drive his horse Panda. Now this activity seems rather quaint and innocent enough; yet it does necessitate having the tool for the job.

In our case that has meant vehicles for training the horse to pull something, usually starting with a tire and moving up to a stone-boat – essentially a reinforced wooden pallet with a seat on it – ours has a very stylish brown school bus bench seat on it. Now that Panda and Bill are quite comfortable with moving a vehicle down the road, trail or in the pasture, it has led to Bill acquiring a covered wagon; a doctor’s buggy, several sulkies as training carts and of course some sleighs!

Last month, we got ready for winter by sorting out Bill’s Storage Building. This building was purchased for the sole purpose of sheltering all the horse-drawn vehicles that he has accumulated over the past five years. It is really quite striking to have them all under one roof.

Logistically I needed to work on the “Order of Go” for the storing, so that we could maximize the available space and yet ensure that we get access to the weather-appropriate vehicles in a timely manner.

Thus our little red Quebec Jumper- which used to convey Keith’s family from Vars to Russell – was placed near the front entrance. We use this very often during the winter, though we can’t seem to get more than three very friendly adults into it at once. Another sleigh was placed near the front so that Bill could work on it over the winter – getting its upholstery renewed. Many generations of mice enjoyed its straw stuffing.

Our covered wagon was re-homed. We had stored it at our neighbours’ place – and so pulled it home with our ATV. Our neighbour sat on the back of the ATV holding the chain; while I steered the wheels.

Now that all our horse-drawn vehicles are under one roof, it is difficult to deny just how addictive a habit this can be.


A Murder of Crows

I noticed crows congregating in some fields near me, causing me to wonder if crows migrated in the winter. Some do, but a lot of them stick around our area in Ottawa all winter long. They seem to prefer gathering in large flocks or “roosts” at dusk.

Crows are fascinating – they usually mate for life, and have evolved quite a sophisticated family structure with some siblings remaining with the family to raise the following year’s brood.¬† They use tools and they can recognize¬† individual humans.

When I see them gathering in large numbers in fall and winter I try not to read a sinister omen in these “roosts” or “murders”; but rather one more sign of winter’s approach.