BASTION MOUNTAIN RANCH - TALES OF A FARM FAMILY


My family lived on a Ranch full time from 1993 until 2015. We were a 5th generation family farm.
I am writing this blog to share my experiences living there. It is best to read the blog chronologically by going through the archives, starting with the introduction in January of 2010.
The blog starts with the arrival of my great-grandparents to the farm in 1947 and will follow the families to the present.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Horses make a landscape more beautiful

"We had no word for the strange animal we got
from the white man - the horse.  So we called it
sunka wakan, "holy dog". For bringing us the
horse we could almost forgive you for bringing
us whiskey.
Horses make a landscape look more beautiful."
Lame Deer, Lame Deer Seeker of Visions

Peggy, Paddy and Molly on the Ferme Fleur de Lys.

Farm horses, like the boats, also were set aside with the introduction of machines and the road.  Horses  enforced a mindful and measured response to work.  Machines, as they don't tire in the same way as an animal, allow people to push themselves longer into the work day.  A horse requires rest and care.  The working relationship with an animal adds another element to a task as one needs to make allowances for their mood and general health.  If the weather is breathtakingly cold or hot to the point of suffocation, it is only humane to not work whereas a machine allows people to work through most conditions when possibly it would be better to take the day off. Farm accidents occurred, of course, utilizing either animal or machine, with fatigue having played a large part.
My father had his fair share of accidents with machines.  At this time Edmond was spending a few months of every year working away from the farm.  One of the ventures was a logging truck company that came to an untimely end when the truck he was driving went off the road.  Miraculously enough in all the accidents over the years he was never seriously injured.  He had strong innate sense of machinery. At his best as an operator the machine was like an extension of his body and mind.
I am guessing that he did not feel this connection with the horses as strongly as he did with the machines to follow.  Horses would not appear again on the farm until many years later when they were purchased for his children.  As children we were given little instruction on riding the horses and learned through trial and error, predominately riding bareback.  Horseback riding would become a passion for me, continuing for many years until just recently when I gave my beloved horse away.
They are truly "Sunka Wakan".

 Mr. Ed and I.  He was a retired cattle horse who became a reliable companion for me for many years.  He died during my third year of University.

Griffin was an Arabian that we purchased when I moved back to the farm as a young mother.  I was terrified of him for a few years until I finally decided to sell him.  He was for sale for many months with no offers. At a loss of what to do with this unruly and dangerous horse I decided to put him in the care of a horse trainer, Rennie Zimmer.  It was under the patient teaching of Rennie that I was finally able to ride him properly.  We had many hours of fun together under Rennie's guidance.  Griffin died suddenly of cancer in 2004.

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