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What About Bob?

Posted 10/21/2011 7:51am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

No doubt many of you are wondering what we are doing with our single draft horse, Bob, since we lost his teammate, Bud, last spring.    Like the old Bill Murray flick, we are back to taking baby steps towards incorporating draft horse power on the farm.  

Bob has had a leisurely summer.  We considered selling him and putting our draft horse dreams on the back burner again till we have the time and money for a new team.  There is no doubt that this would be the most logical move, but when it comes to Bob, it is hard to be emotionally detached.   He is such a sweet horse and we really like him.   Selling him would have been hard on so many levels.   We'd miss his big, gentle presence in the barn and pasture.   We'd certainly miss the work we have done and will do with him.   And, more selfishly, selling him would feel like admitting that horses just don't make sense in our day and with our lifestyle.  We've become quite busy.  Roy's new position is more enjoyable but more demanding than his previous one.   Our marketing efforts have increased keeping me quite busy and I've taken on some additional responsibilities at the FoodShed at Village Acres, Roy's parents' farm.  All these things have been good, but the question remains, is this lack of time to work Bob fair to him and does it make economic sense for us? Actually, we've accepted that Bob, without a teammate is hard to justify economically, but worth keeping all the same. So the real dilemma now is how to give him the life he deserves till we find a teammate we can afford to work with him.

A single draft horse has a lot to offer, but the jobs we can task him with are certainly limited.   He can pull logs out of the woods, he can pull a walking plow, and we can ride him.  Roy hopes to get him in the woods this fall to pull out firewood.   We only plow a tiny garden-size plot that would work him for a very short time and so far none of us have had the nerve to clamor on his back without a saddle, which for a draft horse is quite expensive.  And so we wait and Bob patiently waits with us.   He always seems to enjoy our company when we are in the barn and for now is out on pasture with the cows.    I think he seems bored sometimes; perhaps wondering when he'll be put to work or perhaps just lonely for another horse and we all feel bad about that.   Some days he runs around the cows and calves as though he just needs something to do.  

We have made some adjustments to our plans for using horses on the farm.  We've decided that with our acreage, number of animals, and lack of time, making hay with horses probably doesn't make sense, so Roy is in the process of selling some of that equuipment.  When we do get a second horse, we will likely use them primarily for logging, spreading manure, and clipping pastures with a sickle bar mower.  Hopefully by next spring we can introduce you to our new draft horse.  All in good time.