I am going back to work in the National Park in Philadelphia. I can hardly believe it, it is a dream come true in many ways. It has now become a reality. The time has come for me to explore ways to take care of myself while keeping my commitment to the horses here on the farm. I intend on always doing what I can to facilitate a connection to the work horses and here on the farm we accomplish that in an extraordinary way and I am so proud of it all. I will build my new life all around it, with the farm at the center, for the rest of my life, god willing.
Driving a carriage in Philadelphia is deeply personal. My years driving in Philadelphia were some of the best of my life and the reasons are simple. For the first time in my life every fiber of my being was joyfully present. I loved going out in different kinds of weather, through all kinds of seasons and holidays, through time and endless founding stories of our how our unique and important democracy came to life and how this great country came to be what it is.
While I was working in Philly I felt wrapped up in stories that mattered, that changed the world and shaped who we have become. It is all there in Philadelphia, from the early Swede, Swiss and Dutch settlers (of whom my family was a part of as religiously persecuted Mennonite) to Chief Tamanend of the Lenape Indians to the arrival of William Penn to the secret meetings of our founding fathers at Carpenters Hall.
I can’t wait to be there again, walking along those streets telling the stories of the lives that came before and buildings that housed it all. All of that history, drama, epic rising and falls, our American story. I wasn’t a patriotic person until I did that job and now I find I am deeply patriotic and proud to be American, proud to be born on this land and proud to be woven into the fabric of who we are, all of us. Who we were with horses throughout time is also recorded there and having a horse as a working partner while traveling through time and history is incomparable. I imagine I will have lots of blogs related to my experiences to come.
My friend Shane recently told me that the boldest thing to do right now in the world is to love yourself, love, love, love…….this is my way of deeply loving myself and for the first time in a long time has given me a new burst of life, something that I am grateful for. There is nothing like remembering where you come from to help direct where you are going.
There is an awesome crew on the farm who all have the drive, commitment and energy to continue to lay the foundation of what is important work to us all. I do not have to be on the farm all the time anymore, there are others that can look after it as I have done for over seven years now, with love and gratitude and openness to face the future with horses at their sides, where they belong. Alot of what I do these days only requires that I can get on-line and I can do that from virtually anywhere.
Please join us as we venture into this new journey for the farm and those that call it home. The many retired, disabled and homeless work horses. Help us celebrate and include them again into our communities, where they belong.
Working animals who have it in them to “work” will invent jobs all on their own if they are not clearly communicated with and even with the best communication it can take a lot to get the message through to them. Frida has appointed herself as the “enforcer” of rules we have for the horses. We ask the horses to not break, or lean or kick or chew or push the fences all day long. When we get tired of it we just put electric wire up. We do not need Frida to help us with this and we remind her all day long that it is not her job, yet she has made it hers. Last night Jay took a moment to ask her very politely to please stop barking at the horses on the fence. Merlin listened in attentively and maybe it was the way Jay asked or that Merlin witnessed it but Frida has not barked at any horses on the fence for over 24hrs now. Her feelings seem hurt but it is small price to pay for the peace we will all have now…..if it is really so.
I know, you thought I was going to say Horses! Well, obviously they are too, but this blog is about a tree. A tree that lives on our farm and with whom I have personally lived with for nearly eight years now. Throughout my time on this farm, at least once a day, I ponder the great White Pine that lives in the hayfields all alone.
Early on, when we opened in 2009, we named the tree the Belgian Pine after a pair of Belgian mares, Chyna and Duchess, who would rest under it in our first summer while helping us move compost and soil. One day the owner of the farm, Tommy Roberts, stopped to tell me the story of the tree during his time on the farm. Tommy made a decision when he bought the former dairy farm to keep the giant tree standing for his pair of working horses, so they could rest in the shade if needed. The day he told me he was pulled alongside the road in his farm truck watching the students from Pathfinder Voc School working, they have worked during the summer every year since in the farm garden. He had a tear in his eye when he explained that he was witnessing a dream of his own, to see young people working under the tree with soil and to have a team of working horses resting under it. “I get it”, I thought, “this farm is special.” What makes it special are too many things to list but overall it could be described as an oasis really. An oasis of natural beauty with a vibe all of its own.
The Tree is a central figure in the story of this farm and no doubt has been standing before the first Scottish family settled here to cultivate the land. In 1725, King George granted this land to a Scottish family who began a textile mill down the river from the farm, establish the early settlement of what is now known as Three Rivers. Since that time this farm has served to provide countless families and animals sustenance and security.
During that first year we put in two large spiral gardens attached as an infinity symbol, under the tree. They were meant to be permaculture gardens with a diversity of plants but they mostly became gathering places and habitat for grasses, birds and other woodland creatures, a magnet for all the beneficial helpers a garden would want, still permaculture in a natural habitat kind of way. The spirals are living, breathing beautiful little eco-systems with worlds of their own, but this story is about the grand old tree that lives over them. The tree where the love of my life took his own life nearly two years ago.
Writing about the tree, pondering the tree, standing under the tree or with the tree are all heavy prospects for me. My head spins when I try to articulate it, it feels like an ancient call in my body, “wake up” “stay awake” “you are needed, you are loved” “don’t even try to get out of it!” Nothing simple for me and many others that have a history on the farm too. We have all been moved by what this work has brought to our lives and much of it not at all what we expected when getting into it. Above all though, it has brought us the great beauty of getting to have a very strong and intimate connection with nature, with the horses and on the land.
The other day Deb took a picture of me driving Mario and Punch under the tree during a snow storm. I love this picture and it triggers powerful emotions and if I had to describe what they feel like they are most like what it feels like to survive, for me anyway, and I have fought for my life many times, I know that feeling well.
This survival story is the most bittersweet for me. Surviving suicide of your beloved in the midst of manifesting your life’s work and purpose intended to bring goodness and sustaining life for horses, humans and mother earth is no easy task for any spirit and mine most definitely did not feel up to the challenge.
After Paul’s death my native friends from every direction came to help steer us through the tragedy for the lands’ sake and the animals’ sakes and for our own sakes too. We heard from the Nipmuck people, the “People of the Pond”, the original peoples of this land and they shared that the tree was a grandfather tree and loves humans, it doesn’t mind standing alone because it doesn’t feel alone with the humans that admire him. They went on to say that tree was scared we would cut it down or that it would be forgotten and left alone. Upon hearing that a brave and wise student of ours from Stockbridge vowed to keep the tree company for the following months in order to give us time to adjust to what had become a new world for us all, with the tree at the center where it always had been. Mithra Kunlatunga spent the whole summer sleeping under the tree. Jon Katz has written wonderful pieces on him.
Mithra wrote to me the other day and proclaimed “I am coming in May, I bought my tickets!” This is great news to us all, really great news and I am sure the tree already knows and is happy too! I never doubt that Nature is way ahead of us in “knowing” important things.
Whether we believe that the trees have feelings or not we would have to acknowledge that our Tree is special. When I heard that the tree was sad I felt worse than I already did and that was pretty bad. Mithra told me to not worry that everyday he would tell the tree how much he loved him and never let him forget even for a minute that we were not going to forget or hurt him ever.
Thanks to Mithra and time and seasons and friends and healing I can be with the tree and every time I am I feel I am a better version of myself, more what I want to be in the world and less of what doesn’t serve me. Our tree is truly like a loving pastor or spiritual elder holding us powerfully where we are at, unconditionally and lovingly. He radiates a powerful charm and is home to the hawks and eagles and crows that live on the farm too and he is the perfect gateway to our inner worlds upon whose gates the horses bring us and this tree is the place where my beloved left this world.
This is the first of my commitment to write blogs, to finally tell the stories of the farm and the beings that find themselves on it. I have had a very long hiatus from writing and a breakdown in technical equipment, meaning two broken laptops and limited access to the only one we have. I am done with the excuses and I am going to find a way. I want to share the stories of the farm with a real desire now. The stories made here are amazing and miraculous and humbling and grounding and inspiring and sad and ridiculously funny too….and so much more.
Our stories need to be told and I hope this blog inspires you to tell yours in your own way too. What I have learned above all else in the past years on this farm is that we are each important pieces to a giant whole big tapestry of light and love made up of the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors as well as the love that holds it all together. Like Chief Arvol Looking Horse says “Did you think you were created for anything less than deciding the future of mankind?”
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.
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.
*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.
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
Death and legacy
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The other night we went to watch the opening of the Draft Horse Show at the Big E to see the contenders and support the working horses that come out to “show off”.
Tonight will be the finale and one of the big hitches will win the $34,000 prize, we wouldn’t want to choose any favorites but we are always hoping the best man and horses wins!!
When I was taking the pictures I was drawn to the connection the drivers and partners have with the horses in handling them out in the arena. The many different quiet and powerful ways they comfort, speak to, hold, touch, look at, stand by them all while they wait to be judged or for other hitches to come in or leave.
This quiet language takes years to develop and whole lifetimes to get really good at. Handling this much horse power has nothing to do with physical strength as we know, but every to do with “energy” and the proper use of.
Watching masters like these folks out in the arena is mesmerizing. Every single move and sound and posture matters to the horses who are depending on their human partners to keep them safe and collected.
I especially love the way they all relax in the moments they can, leaning on and connecting with the great power in their care and it gives me great hope that these skills are still alive in the world, they matter, as does the remembering of what is true about our culture, our connection to our past.
America is rooted in REAL horsepower and we are honored to a part of helping to “draft” a way forward with them too.
Over a week ago we worked at the Great Brook Farm State Farm in Eastern Massachusetts and we met a man that brought up all kinds of feelings for those of us close to Paul. When I first noticed him I went up to him and told him that he looked almost exactly the same as my late husband and that it was a bit unnerving, the only real noticeable physical difference was his size. Paul was much taller. I wasn’t prepared for how much this wonderful man is LIKE Paul in all kinds of other ways and take a guess what his name is….. Paul.
This Paul is also know as the “Captain” as he is a retired Captain Firefighter and I think he also called the Captain for his long life on the sea, he is from Gloucester and people of Gloucester are people of the sea and his hands prove it. His hands were big and strong, just like Paul’s. He even holds the camera phone the same way Paul did.
Paul writes and sings beautiful ballads of the sea, folk music at it’s best. He even had a song he wrote about a woman that loses the love of her life and her light too until over time she heals and finds love again. He sang it for me and while I still doubt I will ever love again in the way I have with Paul I felt the power in the words he shared and I do believe in the resurrection and renewal the words described.
Zoe and Jay and I all felt a heavy sadness and had trouble excepting the experience but at the same time we felt completely wrapped in the great mystery this world is held in and open to it. What is amazing about the whole experience is that I believe it is an answer to a question or a belief I have had since Paul has died.
Months ago I was sitting on a bench in Church St. in Burlington, Vt. Church St. is a downtown busy street filled with great shops and interesting history. I was waiting for my daughter while she shopped. I looked around at the crowd and began thinking about Paul. I realized that he was so unique that it was unlikely I would ever see anyone like him again. It was a depressing thought and I remember thinking that it is best to not dwell on it. I got up and found Zoe and swallowed back the grief that I could feel rising up in me. It is how I deal with a lot of how I feel about Paul, processing it in quiet and short moments, getting up and moving along, not lingering or letting the (still) very strong pain I feel about it get to me.
I would think about that for the following months, how I had accept that I would never “see” another man like Paul again, I had decided it wasn’t possible without realizing it.
When I stood before this living Paul and listened to him share about his life and music and work in smoke shop I thought to myself, “isn’t it amazing”. Amazing to be proven wrong again by this miraculous and self adjusting Universe we live in. People like Paul, his kind, are alive and well and holding the world together, like Paul, in their own way. Little did I know.
I am grateful to have had this experience and if I am ever in Gloucester I will make sure to visit Paul in his smoke shop. I have decided a long time ago that it is a very good thing to have your assumptions shattered if they hold you in ways that keep you from remembering you are a spirit having a human experience.
What does it all have to do with horses? For me everything since having them in my life has brought me to know the world in ways I never could have dreamed of, including finding and “losing” the man of my dreams. My path with them is not an easy one but the breakthroughs in my own self discovery are well worth it and more and more I am proud of the courage I have to live as I do…. as if it really mattered….. to horses, humans and mother earth.
Brian Jerome has been planning for the Truckfest at McCray’s Farm in South Hadley for a whole year. Last year after attending the event he approached the owners of the farm and asked if he could bring the Blue Star horses with him for the next year and could they be there to represent REAL horsepower. As soon as he got the ok he called me to say that he couldn’t wait for it. Trucks aren’t my thing or just about anything else motorized, but I know what it all means to Brian, so I was very happy for him.
South Hadley is Brian’s hometown and McCray’s Farm has done what all great farms do for the youth that live near them, they give them jobs. Brian and many of his friends have worked or still do work for McCray’s, it is a very special place for them. It is also home to a couple of events that are local “hits”, their super scary Halloween Fright Night (http://www.fearonthefarm.com) a “crazy idea” gone wild on a tractor through the fields of the farm and the annual TruckFest (http://mccrays-farm.com/truck-fest/) where local folks, mostly younger, gather to compete with their monster trucks and ATV’s. Brian is a diesel mechanic and many of his friends are mechanic’s too or what I like to call them “motor heads”. They are all hardworking, although Brian may be the most, they are smart and capable and love motorized vehicles as much as you can. When Brian first starting learning at BSE we wondered if he could adjust to the slower pace of the work horses. Needless to say he has and I think if he had to choose cars, trucks, motorcycles over the horses he would choose the horses. Brian is a life long animal lover and horses, especially the work horses, are some of his newer four legged friends but like the motors he can work on, he excels at everything to do with a horsepower way of life.
When we first started talking to Brian about driving horses we encouraged him, like we do all of our students we have, to take a look at the horse powered world. We encourage them to look at the great american horse powered loggers and farmers and teamsters in America and in Europe, see what they do, how they do it, how they make it their way of life. Brian could easily see a horse powered way of life for himself right from the beginning but it has taken serious perseverance, focus, courage, strength of all kinds, dedication like no other in order for him to have reached the place where he is able to bring the horses to the heart of what he loves in his community, among his family and friends.
This week-end we had different jobs in different places but Brian and the young Shires Tommy and Ben “showed off” at the annual TruckFest. A dream come true for him and a real blessing to the community he calls home. They had the gift of being reminded about something that is just as true for them as it is for anyone with early American roots, these horses are your long lost relatives and friends. They share the path of building America and they were solid partners to the working class people that created a distribution and commercial industry boom ever seen anywhere in the world before. Horses were integral in productivity and distribution for over a hundred and fifty years of our less than 250 years existing as a country. Of course our relationship is much older but how it helped America is profoundly important to how we see ourselves today.
Teamsters, like mechanics today, were meticulous, calculating, creative and handy. Sensitive and open would be some of their other qualities as they would certainly grow to love the horses they worked with and learn to communicate clearly. I over heard Brian say one day that the horses challenge him to be a good communicatior and the technical parts of how harness and rigs work are very interesting to him. He sees similarly in how motors and “draft” power work, as he should, since mechanics have their roots in horse power too. Measurement of motor power is still measured in horse power.
For Brian to bring Tommy and Ben and share them with his community, share his path and life’s work with the community he cares the most about, made it a very important event in Brian’s life.
Brian works under a special contract with BSE for now, until he can have his own horse powered business. I believe Brian will always be with us in some way, we know how much he loves the horses we are here for, the retired, disabled and homeless ones. He also loves his partners Tommy, Ben, Piper, Remix and Punch and Mario. Together they do jobs. It is the only way that BSE can compensate him for the endless work he does in helping keep the farm running , equipment wise and horse powered wise. Brian and the horses are both the beneficiaries of any job and they are always available too! He is taking his time developing his web-site, information and more and hoping that that our farm gets strong and makes it so that he can continue to have the support he needs to build his self-styled way of life . He lives with far less than most but he knows he is headed in a direction that will not only bring him the ability to live and work with horses, it will also bring him the kind of happiness that comes from doing what you love and sharing it too. There is nothing Brian likes more than sharing the horses and their skills with all he knows. If you have job for Brian and his partner Jay don’t hesitate to call, they are always ready, willing and able and if they can’t do it, they know those that can who will help.
We are so grateful for Brian and all he does for the farm and we want the very best future for him, we know that little by little Brian will be a strong local community member, successful, like so many of his friends already are and it will be a very good thing for the future of our planet and most especially the great working horses of our time.
When you support the Blue Star Herd, you are supporting young people like Brian to find a way forward with their working partners. They are learning from those that live horse powered lives and dreaming of their own one day, where they can do good things for the planet with an ancient partner that also brings so much happiness and appreciation everywhere they go and who helps teach a few other things that help us live better by being better and better.
There is something in the air…something strange and wonderful and revolutionary in some ways. There seems to be an universal understanding that some things are worth keeping….our horses are to be among them.
While visiting Burlington, Vermont the girls and I decided to buy some poetry from a young man sitting on Church street. He politely asked us what we wanted the “subject” to be and all three of us spontaneously replied “Horses!!” That is all we said. He didn’t know us and we have no idea who he is, although we are now thoroughly impressed with his gift.
Sorry for the foul language but it appears to be a part of his “art” and if it is to get attention and cause a reaction….it does. But he hardly needs it….
“Do Horses know they are
majestic as fuck?
Do they just gallop around
all day full of themselves.
Do they even have an ego?
They do it all.
Why did we stop using them again?
Bikes are ok.
Walking takes too long
So lets get back to the
day of horses
-Ian “Poems ‘N’ Shit”
Church Street Burlington, VT