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The 'Ol Home Town


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10/9/10, Grand Rapids, MI - Tomorrow morning, I’m off for the other side of the state to start work on the 6 week refueling outage at the nuclear plant. In the meantime, I’ve been finishing up a few chores to “re-civilize” the Wagonteamster, and taking some time to enjoy myself.

Before taking off for work, I had to make sure I got a good ‘horsie’ fix.  First, I went to visit my 98 year old granddad - Jake Sheaffer. I had recently reported that Jake was out of the horse breeding business after this year.  Well, as I expected, that statement was false.  The mare for the filly shown below, is bred for next year. Jake broke out his nail and string, hung it along her flank, and confirmed the mare is pregnant.  I don’t know how he does it, but he’s about 98% accurate at telling if a mare (or girl, for that matter) is pregnant and can tell the sex of the foal or baby. So, if any of you girls don’t want to get an ultrasound, and want to subject yourself to being picked on by an ‘Ol Codger, stop by and get a diagnosis from the master.

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After 80 years of breeding draft horses, a guy probably knows what he’s doing. Neither Jake nor I could find a single point to fault her on.  Not only that, she’s also a little sweetie. I had a hard time getting a picture of her from the side, as she kept walking up to give me a kiss and get a pet.

The next morning, I stopped of at my cousin Tim’s place. Tim just sold a nice big Percheron that morning, so he was feeling pretty good. With that one gone, he’ll only have another 20 horses left on the place. It’s hard to get any peace and quiet when you go out to see his horses. Everywhere you walk in the paddock, the whole herd follows you.  When you come to a stop, a whole bunch of horse heads are reaching out, waiting for a pat or a pet.

Sunday, I was going to hitch a team to his Vis-a-vis carriage, and drive the team while he took his wife out for their tenth anniversary, but instead, he has to deliver the horse he sold. If any of the ladies on the website were ever upset that romance took a second seat to a horse; don’t get too upset, it has been known to happen.

Yesterday afternoon, I completed my pre-work fix with horses, by going riding with Denise and her friend Sally. We cruised around the Silver Creek Recreation Area on three of Sally’s steeds.  After about 3 hours, the setting sun ended our little adventure; but it was a great time, while it lasted.

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The girls, standing in the lake, with a bowl of Fruit Loops (I mean trees) behind them.  I wouldn’t let them out of the water until they said the magic word.  If they get too hungry, I’ll be nice and let pass on to dry land - - - someday!

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Well, they got thirsty, so I let them come ashore to drink a beer.

I took a little stroll down memory lane this afternoon and visited a lot of the places I knew as a Wagonteamster boy.  The sights triggered memories that were as sharp and crisp as they were 40 years ago. But, being a forward thinking sort of guy, I quickly yearned for some head strong horses on the end of a pair of nice driving lines.

Some sad news: I heard from Melissa, and the old mare rescued from the BLM has died.  From the start, it looked like her kidneys weren’t in very good shape.  On a plus note, she went peaceful, with other horses and people around.  Also, the colt is doing great. He’s being kept in a round pen, in the midst of a paddock that contains several riding horses. According to Melissa, the other horses are keeping him company, and at least one stands by on the other side of the panels when he sleeps at night.

In Other News: I had a call this afternoon from my good friend and fellow adventurer, Bernie Harberts. Bernie stated that he was tired of his normal existence. At the end of the month, he’s off on an adventure to Tasmania. He’s going to add some spice to his trip by dropping himself in the middle of nowhere, with virtually no possessions, then see how far gets on the ‘goodwill’ of people he meets.  If Tasmanians are like everyone else, then it won’t be long before he’ll be driving a team of four matched horses and drinking 30 year old scotch.  Good people, helping out a traveler is what Bernie refers to as the “Moses Effect” (named for how the Jews received material aid in the Sinai, during the 40 year Exodus from Egypt). Right now, he’s talking about starting with a spare shirt. When we first talked about this, more than a year ago, the start was going to be in a pair of Boxer Shorts - c’mon Bernie, you can do it! His website has been updated and I encourage you to follow along.  It will be a great place to see pictures of a guy throwing his shoes and an empty bottle of scotch (never a full one) at a marauding pack of Tasmanian Devils, while balancing on a rock in a billabong, under the shade of a koolibah tree.