Horse and Slide

I took my niece to a sleigh ride birthday party at Hatfield Farm yesterday, and that and seeing all the old horse gear and the sawmill on the property reminded me of years gone by when Dad would use his horse to pull out the wood for the stove and logs for the mill.

Back then and earlier most people had a horse in the family, and while it was a pet to some degree, it was mainly a work animal.  And I guess, depending on the owners, how much a pet and how much work varied. I know while ours did a lot of work, I think its obvious by her name, “Pet” how dad felt about her.

In the fall of the year, we’d usually make our way in on “the level” and cut wood from some stand. While we liked birch for wood, in our part of the province at least, firewood was usually softwood, generally fir and spruce.  We’d cut (dad more than me, I can’t say I was much use being a scrawny dude with not a lot of interest, but I did go and help) our wood and lay some cross pieces to keep the majority off the ground, and stack the rest in lengths on top.

Come winter snowfall, and I can’t really remember many winters without snowfall back then, we’d hitch up the slide (If anyone has a picture of the old double slides, please send to me, so I can add?) and put some horns in it and get Pet to tow it and us in.  We’d load it up with the wood or logs, and she’d pull it out.

I remember Pet was larger than a lot of the horses in our area, and strong as, well, a horse.  And she’d pull a huge load with us on top of it.

She did have her quirks though, being a true Smith at heart, and would not, could not pass a certain water hole without taking a drink, and no amount of persuasion (of which Dad’s version may or may not have involved swear words made up on the spot) would move her till she was done.

Once the wood was out, it would be re-stacked near the road or the house, left to dry some more and sawed into junks on the old sawhorse, sometimes even with an old bucksaw (pic again?) and then stored in the woodhouse.