Copyright© 2010 by Anthony Concept
We went up to the house, the twins had made a pot of tea and were waiting on the deck for us. They were curious about our talk with Erin and Mike but were well mannered enough not to ask. I'm sure they would ask Erin when they were alone.
Sally wanted to take a run into town to pick up some supplies, it would also give her chance to try out her new ute. We left the youngsters to their own devices and headed off.
"Wow, this runs a hell of a lot smoother than my old ute. The poor old thing doesn't owe me anything that's for sure and I'll still use it around the farm. I'll be too scared to take this one out into the paddocks in case I bust it."
"I wouldn't worry about that love, it's designed for off road use. Anyway it's a workhorse not a show pony."
"Even so, I'll wait till the 'new' wears off a bit before I go bush bashing."
We did the shopping and I suggested we go for a counter lunch in the local pub. Sally thought that was a good idea and drove into the car park. Like most pubs, you get a good feed for your money, this one was exceptional. We both had the 'T' bone steak with chips and salads, I remarked on the quality of the meat.
"Locally grown Tony, like most country pubs the publican knows the farmer and gets top grade meat. This is the best I've had in quite a while."
Sitting back with our beer, Sally said she was worried about us coming on a bit strong with Erin and Mike.
"I don't think so love, they both seem like sensible people and I'm sure they will discuss it between themselves. They are still young and who knows where things will end up; actually I hope something does come of their friendship, they're both nice kids."
"Yeah but Erin's a bit too young to get serious, I don't want her to finish up like I did."
"I don't think Mike would let that happen love, he's a pretty conscientious chap from what I've seen."
Lunch out of the way, Sally gave me a tour of the local sights. "Just driving through town you miss all the 'good' bits."
She drove us down to the local swimming hole. "Most of the kids swim here in the summer, we're lucky 'cause we can swim in the river down at the farm. You do need to be careful though, there's crayfish in there and they can give you a nasty nip."
Back at the farm, the kids had the chores done and Mike and Erin were preparing the evening meal.
"If you guys can put tea on hold we can go down the yard and shoe Tanglefoot. Want to watch Mike?"
"Yeah that'll be great Sally, I've always wondered how they do it."
When we reached the stables Erin lead Tanglefoot over to the forge; Sally had started a small fire and was feeding pieces of coke to build it up to a working fire.
Donning a leather apron and picking up her tools she proceeded to remove the old shoes and trim back the hooves.
"A horses hoof is like your finger nails, it continues to grow, so you have to trim it back."
I was looking at the way the nails protruded through the wall of the hoof. "Doesn't it hurt the hoof when you put the nails in?" I asked.
"There's several things you need to know about the hoof before you go banging nails in Tony. The way a hoof is constructed is a bit like your clenched fist, if you spread your fingers, imagine that's the horse toes. The toes are encased in a cushion of what we call the 'Velvet', that is surrounded by the outer wall of the hoof. Where the palm of your hand is, the horse has what's called the 'Frog', that acts as a shock absorber."
"How can you know that the nail isn't going to stick into one of the toes then?"
"We buy all of our shoes pre made, the nail holes are in the right place so as they don't go near the toes. If you look at a horse shoe nail you will see that one side has a curve in it; when the nail goes into the hoof the curve goes to the inside of the hoof, that directs the nail to exit through the wall."
"Take a look at the bottom of Tanglefoot's hoof, see the division between the wall and the frog? That's called the 'white line, the nail should stay outside that line."
With the hoof trimmed and rasped level, Sally selected a shoe and checked it for size against Tanglefoot's hoof, it needed a little bit of adjustment so she put it into the fire and raked more hot coke over it, Erin worked the bellows and very soon it was hot enough to work. Grabbing hold with a pair of tongs she quickly tapped it into shape on the horn of the anvil. Checking to see that it was it was dead flat she then stuck a thing she called a 'pritchel' in one of the nail holes.
Lifting Tanglefoot's hoof she place the hot shoe against it. "This is to make sure that the shoe sits firm without any gaps." Once she was satisfied everything was OK she quenched the shoe in the water tank and then commenced to nail it in place.
As the first nail came through the hoof wall, she slipped the claw of the shoeing hammer over the excess and with a quick flick of her wrist she twisted the nail off. She continued with the other five nails in a similar manner. Once all the nails were in place she filed a notch just under the protruding nail stubs. "That's to prevent the nail from splitting the hoof wall."
Sally clenched the nails to prevent them from coming loose and lastly she rasped the edges of the hoof for appearances sake. One down four to go. Once all the shoes were on Sally opened a jar of foul smelling black stuff and commenced to paint the hooves with it.
"Stockholm tar Tony, it seals the hoof around the nails and where I've run the rasp. Most farriers don't use it but I think it's worth the effort."
"That's amazed me Sally," said Mike, "I've always imagined the blacksmith to be a big strong person, yet you handled Tanglefoot with hardly any sweat at all."
"Farrier Mike, Blacksmiths work steel, Farriers shoe horses. All the horses here are used to being shod by me so there's no great hassles, occasionally one will lean on me but a quick jab in the ribs with the hammer handle soon straightens him up."
Erin wet the fire down while Sally tidied up her tools, then it was up to the house to get the evening meal on.
Later that evening Sally gave the Justin girls a call and arranged for them to come over and look after the place for a few days. I then gave Sybil a call to let her know what our plans were.
"Does Sally know that you are part owner of the company Tony?"
"Not as yet Syb, I think we should talk about that ourselves first, don't you?"
"OK, but I wouldn't put it off for too long if I were you, it could come back and bite you on the bum."
"Yeah, I am aware of that. Anyhow, we'll see you on Monday all going well." After a bit more chatter I finished the call.
I spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the pleasures of country life. Being around the horses was something that I was quickly becoming interested in, I must have driven Sally and Erin nuts with all my questions.
All too soon the weekend came to a close and Monday morning at an ungodly hour we all headed back to the city. On a good day the run took about three quarters of an hour, so if anything permanent between Sally and I develops I think the farm will be my permanent residence.