Our last carriage horse was Caesar, a Morgan who weighed about 1100 pounds. One day Caesar stamped his foot to shake flies off his legs and came down on my bare foot; fortunately his foot was unshod. Nevertheless, it felt like he broke all the bones and it did take the skin off my foot. I can still feel the pain 70 years later! Every time a horse has stood on my foot since then I have not minded much as it was never as painful an injury and of course now I wear boots!
I recall that Dad usually removed his glasses when he checked the rope that tripped the sling into the correct mow. One time he laid them on a beam and between loads I mowed hay into the corners and then practiced running on the beams so I could beat Paul. Paul was younger but more coordinated and I hated to have him better me in anything. Intent on running and balancing I stepped on Dad's glasses. What a feeling of disaster! And I knew my father had a temper!
I felt foolish, incompetent, unobserving and a klutz. I didn't know how to admit my wrong doing so I said nothing. Dad found his broken glasses after the next load and the inquisition began. I tried to fain ignorance and now wonder why I didn't have the courage to openly admit my guilt.
The hay barn also carries the pleasant memories of Gretchen's visits when we were dating and the kisses we exchanged there.
There were other times when the hay loft offered solitude such as when I forgot to turn off the water to the stock tank. My father was very upset and there was no hiding the evidence. The mow was a good place before and after the recompense.
The lower barn or basement was made up in my youth of nine horse stalls across the north end of the barn. When I was very small the stalls had faced south. Later the stalls faced north along the wall of the barn. So in order to walk to the front of the horses one had to pass through a stall occupied by a horse to reach the north wall. It was always a bit worrisome to a small child to walk so close to a huge draft horse since I knew a horse can be startled when approached from the rear.
I was eight when I received a black pony as a birthday gift from my parents. Maud was stabled in that basement stall for the next seven years.
I enjoyed standing in front of the horses and watching them eat. Besides Maud and Caesar there were the Percherons and later Belgian work horses that probably averaged 1800 and 2000 pounds respectively. The horses' temples seemed to pop in and out in unison with their chewing. The ears would point in the direction of their attention and not surprisingly they loved oats more than hay.
The horses' replacement: Al, Fredric, and Dan Quie on Allis Chalmers WD-45, 1958.
I would scramble up on the stall walls and sit on all the horses. Slowly I'd get up on a colt's back. The first year they were too quick for me so I'd slip a collar over their back upside down till they would not buck anymore. Later they would allow me on their back without the collar. I used a milk stool to harness the horses when I was small. Most of my experiences with the horses occurred when I was alone. I didn't' want my father to disapprove and yet I wanted to try these things.
The Holstein cows were less interesting to me. We had three rows of nine cows. At the south end of the barn was the bull pen, a heifer pen in the middle and calf pen to the west. My first chore as a young boy was to feed the calves milk from a pail. It was hard to get one started. First you let the calf suck your fingers and then get the calf to do it with its head in a pail of milk. Your hand got all wet and milky and the calf would get its nostrils under the surface, choke, lift its head and blow milk out on your clothes. Very exasperating! Patience comes with age and mine came slowly.