Stagecoach Mary Fields and thinking about hard work in the cold….

 

This past week-end while driving the teams on the Silver Bell Farm, giving rides in the cold, one was tempted to complain a bit. Whenever I feel like complaining I always try to remember the not so long ago past and our ancestors and the hard work they would do in all kinds of weather…no matter what…with their horses…and mules and oxen.

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Stagecoach Mary’s story is absolutely one of my favorites and one I like to remember when feeling a bit sorry for myself if I am working in the cold with a team never mind a hitch of six or eight on mountain passes with no real “roads…..perfect cure for those kinds of thoughts…I immediately collect myself, stop whinning and feel great gratitude to have such amazing teamsters to look up too….the likes of which we could hardly match in our modern times….or could we?

 

Stagecoach Mary Fields

 

First lets start with this…..

In 1895, although approximately 60 years old, Fields was hired as a mail carrier because she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses. This made her the second woman and first African American woman to work for the U.S. Postal Service. She drove the route with horses and a mule named Moses. She never missed a day, and her reliability earned her the nickname “Stagecoach.”If the snow was too deep for her horses, Fields delivered the mail on, carrying the sacks on her shoulders.

Fields was a respected public figure in Cascade, and on her birthday each year the town closed its schools to celebrate. When Montana passed a law forbidding women to enter saloons, the mayor of Cascade granted her an exemption.

“Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38.” Gary Cooper

*Born in 1832 a slave in Tennessee and owned by the Dunn family during the Andrew Jackson administration, gained her freedom in her twenties and headed out west in her fifties.

*Mary was 6ft tall, heavy, tough, short tempered: two-fisted:powerful and packed a pair six-shooters and an eight or ten-gauge shotgun. screenshot2015-10-28at2-31-11pm

*Well known for smoking bad homemade cigars and was known to get into altercations on a regular basis.

  • She prided herself on being an “Independent” politically.
  • After Mary became “free” in 1884 she made her way to Cascade County (west Central Montana) in search of work and adventure. She began working with the Ursuline nuns at their mission, called the St. Peter Mission, in the city of Cascade.

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  • Mary was hired to do the “heavy work” and to haul freight and supplies to keep the nuns operation functional and well fed.

 

  • A famous tale about Mary is during a night run her wagon was attacked by wolves. The terrified horses bolted and overturned the wagon and thereby dumping Mary and all her supplies.The legend is that she kept the wolves at bay with her revolvers and rifle. She did survive and at dawn got the load delivered. Her pay was docked for the molasses that leaked from a keg which was cracked on a rock in the overturn.
  • Mary was always heavily armed and ready for a fist fight at the drop of a hat. Certain ruffian men would occasionally attempt to trample on her rights and hard won privileges. Woe to them all.  She broke more noses than any other person in central Montana, so claimed the Great Falls Examiner, the only newspaper available in Cascade at the time.

 

  • At seventy-one, Mary Fields retired from star route mail carrier service in 1903. She continued to babysit many Cascade children and owned and operated a laundry service from her home.3[3]

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    Fields died in 1914 at Columbus Hospital in Great Falls of liver failure, but she was buried outside Cascade.

  •  In 1959, actor and Montana native Gary Cooper wrote an article for Ebony in which he said: “Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38.”
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    St Peter’s Mission

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    92a7951c4afb04c8ff7fc03eaf32b54d Sources Wikipedia and Blackcowboys.com

What did she say about herself?:

I am Mary Fields. 
People call me “Black Mary.”
 
People call me “Stagecoach Mary.”
 
I live in Cascade, Tennessee.
 
I am six feet tall.
 
I weigh over two hundred pounds.
 
A woman of the 19th Century,
 
I do bold and exciting things.
 
I wear pants.
 
I smoke a big black cigar.
 
I drink whiskey.
 
I carry a pistol.
 
I love adventure.
 
I travel the country,
 
driving a stagecoach,
 
delivering the mail to distant towns.
 
Strong, I fight through rainstorms.
 
Tough, I fight through snowstorms.
 
I risk hurricanes and tornadoes.
 
I am independent.
 
No body tells me what to do.
 
No body tells me where to go.
 
When I’m not delivering mail,
 
I like to build buildings.
 
I like to smoke and drink in bars with the men.
 
I like to be rough.
I like to be rowdy.
 
I also like to be loving.
 
I like to be caring.
 
I like to baby sit.
 
I like to plant flowers and tend my garden.
 
I like to give away corsages and bouquets.
 
I like being me, Mary Fields.

 

 

 

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Blue Star Holiday Message

Why Help?

We are making the change we want to see in the world for horses in need.

For seven years now Blue Star Equiculture has existed to provide a sanctuary for retired, disabled and homeless horses.  Horses have valuable gifts to share with humanity and any community they are found in regardless of their breed, size, age, ability or health issue is a lucky community when they are provided space for and allowed to meet their community by way of visiting, volunteering for and learning from.

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The horses at Blue Star have helped so many young people decide the path they want to take into the future and it is with the horses alongside them, where they belong.

What happens to unwanted horses today when there is no safe place for them to land?

The horses abandonment, disregard, marginalization in modern culture, objectification and disposability and general disrespect stems from a profound disconnect from nature and each other that has worsened in the industrial age that the horses helped usher in. We see it in the way we treat each other and other life, a great disconnect from the essential spirit that binds us all together. The age old proverb “Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are..” stands true still today when we look at that epic numbers of unwanted, abandoned, neglected and suffering horses and people for that matter.

Regardless of what you believe about slaughter and the eating of the horses meat, the unnecessary and extreme suffering needs to end and we believe with consciousness and effort we can collectively make this happen, but the reality must be faced and not ignored or forgotten. Every five minutes an American horse is slaughtered in sometimes brutal circumstances. Our noble and ancient friends deserve a much more honorable treatment, that protects and comforts them from suffering. Temple Gradin has already made great advances in how to make this possible.

Book cover of Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin; for autism project. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Book cover of Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin; for autism project. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

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ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY JUNE 19 AND THEREAFTER - In a Thursday, May 12, 2016 photo, horses bound for Chihuahua, Mexico, to be slaughtered, are loaded into a trailer at J&R Stockyards in Presidio, Texas. Nearly a decade after the last three horse slaughterhouses closed in the United States the trafficking of American horses for slaughter continues and the controversy burns as fiercely as ever. (Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP) RUMBO DE SAN ANTONIO OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY JUNE 19 AND THEREAFTER – In a Thursday, May 12, 2016 photo, horses bound for Chihuahua, Mexico, to be slaughtered, are loaded into a trailer

 

What we can do more of?  Keep Your Culture!

By learning about the contribution horses have made to mankind and specifically America we can appreciate how much we still need them with us. Support Working Horses and their Humans, you are indeed saving many lives in the process.

Horse culture survives, in pockets all over the planet, especially here in America. There are people loving and caring for their horses in extraordinary and environmentally sensible ways. There are those that are breeding consciously for the future and protecting their horses from oblivion. There are families and communities and farms still depending on their horses and there are also great advances in communication thanks to all the gifted “whisperers” out in the world assisting others in communicating more clearly, compassionately, patiently with horses.

 

 

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Jason Rutledge keeping his culture alive, a modern man carrying forward the human skills and “toolkit” developed through the co-evolution with horses for our present environmental challenges and for our future generations.

There is a a great network of draft animal powered folks ready, willing and able to help others “remember” and improve an animal powered way of life at Draft Animal Power Network, with whom we work closely with.

There are our European friends seeking more and more ways to include the horses back into our urban and rural lives

L’Energie Cheval: (French society of working equines) is a new website sharing the many ways that draft power is making a return in France and beyond! Great information on the versatility and productivity and countless examples of the many ways communities all over the world are using horse power!

There is also the great Lynn Miller prolific writer, farmer, painter and social commentator whose handbook for draft driving we use at our class at the Stockbridge School of Ag. at UMass.

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When groups of 4-H kids, girl scouts, boy scouts, senior centers, veterans from the VA Hospital locally, disabled and special needs children and adults come and ordinary folks come to relieve stress and worry from their everyday lives we take the time to explain the extraordinary sensory gifts the horses share with us. You can feel the tension break in the air as people relax and remember that horses are nature and perfectly suited as ancient companions to remind us that we are too.

 

Therapeutically horses are now recognized as undisputed miracle workers at helping humans build confidence, find connection, learn tolerance, flexibility and build natural and healthy leadership skills. There are more and more studies revealing just how exceptionally gifted they are sensory wise and much more. On the farm, over 80% of the people working on it  are under thirty. Energetic, bold, self motivated young people wanting to be the change they want to see in the world, with natural abilities honed alongside the horses they work with each day.

 

 

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Josie and Remix have practically grown up together on this farm. They have both even attained amazing heights in winning the 2014 World Percheron Championship in Youth Riding. They are an amazing pair, bound to have an amazing future together.

 

The infinite field of possibilities for us all, Horses and Humans.

Happily horses know the way home to where our spirits soars, they know the way back to the great fields of possibilities in our imaginations, where new and better ideas are born. They know the way and all you have to do is show up to meet them where they are at. Any horse can help you reach that receptive and connected place inside where words are no longer necessary, just the understanding that we are all connected in a beautiful loving intelligent and abundant universe of potential where there is no way to be outside of the sacred, honoring the sacred, honoring life.

 

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Brianna youth manager of Birdsong Farm for foster children getting a blessing inside the circle by the horses that love her and vice versa.

This season please give generously to the horses that live on our farm. Help us do this work that brings so much good to so many and most especially the horses.

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Two of our Shire Ambassadors are ready for the challenge! They are coming to win your hearts and ask for your help too. Join the Herd! Merlin and Tommy do their part, we can do ours too.

We are embarking on a bold campaign for this Year End Giving Season so as to establish the security the farm needs in order to carry on into the future. Help us get the herd members we need and from there the sky is the limit in terms of the longstanding opportunity the farm offers to those that need and want to have horses in their lives, even if only to admire quietly and be among them in a shared space of mutual respect and love.

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Jasper in his retirement, loved and cared for until the very end.

Look for us out in the streets with our  Blue Star Hitch wagon, (on loan from Conkey Lumber) along with Tommy, Ben, Mario and Punch and the people that care for the horses at Blue Star.

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Hitch wagons were the distribution vehicles of their time, carrying important loads from one place to another. Every great company had a hitch wagon with a teams of horses of the breeds of their choice and they went out and did their job moving loads on city streets and beyond and built company recognition with their company names painted boldly on the sides.

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Very much like our own ancestors here in Massachusetts did for the working horse in Boston, lets give a gift to our retired, disabled and working horses in our community for this Holiday Season!

Our young  Shires and Percheron’s are going to be going out and representing the working class horses and humans still among us in America, whose wisdom, skill and power we  need now and will need more so going into the future. Our hitch of horses are also representing their dying breeds, the Shires, the Clydes and the Suffolks. They are also going out representing all the working horses in cities all over the world that carry the tradition and customs and stories for their cities history.

The Blue Star horses are going out representing our horse power culture.  America is rooted in REAL Horse Power!

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And most important of all they are going out representing the ones that are left behind, forgotten, thrown away, given up on, discarded, unfortunate and alone, unloved, sick and injured and scared to death ones too. They are representing their farm here in Palmer and all we stand for.

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Blind Sarge who lost his job as an Adirondack pack horse. Blue Star is his forever home now where he is loved and where he shares incredible gifts of immeasurable value. You can read all of their stories here….

 

Blue Star is a prophecy shared by many native peoples around the world, a time of new beginnings. New beginnings in the circle of life, where there is no beginning or end.

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Join the Herd!

Best holiday gift you can give to the horses here and most importantly for yourself. Try it you’ll see, there is an amazing amount of magic that happens when you reach out to share with a mystical and ancient creature like the Horse and the universe never fails to reward you in infinite ways, maybe even more in the season of giving. It will make you feel good and that in itself is a powerful medicine enough.

With Great Love and Appreciation! 

All of us at Blue Star! 

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The value of life, our own and others. At the crossroads.

 

I seem to always feel as though I am standing at a crossroads. A place  where a choice has to be made. To be or not to be. To live or not to live. To speak up, stand up for something or to look the other way.  Yet everywhere I look everyone seems to be doing some version of the same. Chief Arvol Looking Horse has been saying for over 20yrs that we are at a crossroads, where and when choices that will either honor or dishonor our ancestors, have to be made in order for natural balance to come back to the planet and into our hearts.

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We are a part of a oneness, whether our left brains permit the acknowledgement of that or not. We are a part of an electromagnetic field of energy that responds accordingly, records accordingly and holds us bound to one another. There is no lying or stealing or cheating the universe, nature, our mother earth. We are all living under the same natural law that governs all of life. What happens here, happens there. What happens inside, happens outside. There is no escaping it or hiding from it or covering your eyes like a child in hopes that you will not be seen or counted according to your own sense of self worth.

Today, or these days I should say,  my decisions are in the flow of the moment to moment that is this farm, this fluid living enterprise made up of noble equine residents that are cared for and their human helpers that stand by them no matter what.

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The life on this farm is not for everyone but interestingly it is perfectly suited for seekers, outcasts, veterans,  the marginalized, students and grandparents. Every professional occupation is counted for. The Blue Star herd has nurses, doctors, martial artists, opera singers, actors, horse men and women of all kinds of skill and talent from all over the world. On the farm working full time I am the only one over 50, most are 30 and under. They are on fire with passion about their possibilities as future horse powered farmers or loggers or in self invented and run commercial enterprises. They love the idea of having a horse as a partner to change the world with?

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In every creation story around the world, in all the languages, including in the Amazon where horses are not easily found…the horses are the ones that show up to help us make the critical choices to improve life on earth for the sake of who we are, where we come from and where we can potentially go.

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Old horses, young horses, skilled or disabled horses all have the same special “energy” that science is understanding and sharing more and more of. A powerful electromagnetic biorhythmic pulse 10x more powerful than our own. In their presence we come to our senses, regulate and calibrate to them bio- rythmically , our cortisol levels drop and we release endorphins of the most exquisite kind, we feel alive and well and excited in their presence. Even fear of them can reveal a need to attune more to nature, calm down and remember you are not alone and you are seen, witnessed and accepted. Horses also have the extraordinary ability to activate the “right brain”, our receptivity, imagination, visions and dreams. Horses help us feel bigger and better that we thought possible for ourselves. Maybe that is why so much has happened to culture, civilization , industry and development with their help.

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Maybe their work in this time of the “crossroads” is to remind us that we are more than we thought we are with mighty and far reaching opportunities to help make the world a better place for all mankind and the creatures that live with us.

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We are particularly feeling the extreme pressure of establishing and securing our farm financially and the very fastest and easiest way to do it is by inviting others to help with any amount they can, month to month, showing up for the horses in need in our community. In return we open our farm for their community to come to know and love them, celebrate and heal with them, include and love them. I know in our tiny town of Palmer countless miracles have already happened here, thanks to the horses and their quiet and powerful work of healing our broken hearts, over and over and over again.

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Help us help keep them with us, please Join the Herd. Now, this giving season and help us reach our 2000 member goal by the New Year, we can do it, we have proven what we are worth , come and see for yourself anytime and any day, you will always be welcome to stick your face in a big, soft, furry neck and take a big breath and remember who you are, connected to all of nature and each other and let the rest happen naturally. FullSizeRender-16

Draft Horses are Our National Treasure! Join the Herd!

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Jasper contemplating the day in his own way. Spending his last days in peace and comfort and extreme care. He is a bit disoriented and he has slowly broken off from the rhythm of our routine, asking to be turned out in different areas, forgetting where he is, turning around and quietly laying down. Somedays are good and he spends them minding the youngsters, he self appointed role that gives him great purpose. Jasper was a carriage horse, a dutiful friend and helper and he is greatly loved by many. We are going to miss him when he is not here but we are so grateful to have gotten to know him.

 

Draft Horses are Our National Treasure! Join the Herd!

For this Holiday Season please help make it extra hopeful for our equine friends in need.  America is Rooted in Horsepower! It is the least we can do!

 

 

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