By Rick Palsgrove
The only sounds in this Slate Run Living Historical Farm field on this rare, warm March afternoon were the muffled clomps of horses’ hooves in the soft, spring ground and the scraping of a spring tooth harrow as it loosened the soil for planting.
The farm’s two new draft horses, Judy and Prince, who are both four years old and are half-siblings, were pulling the spring tooth harrow guided by Slate Run Living Historical Farm worker Mike Huels. They were getting the field ready for the planting of oats and then, later in the season, sorghum and pumpkins.
Huels said the farm obtained the two Percheron horses in early March from an Amish man in upstate New York.
“Judy and Prince have done farm work before and some logging work,” said Huels. “They’ve helped plow, spread manure, and other farm work. Both horses are easy going, willing workers. Judy is a little more friendly, but they are both really good to work with. They’re patient and they’ll stand and wait till we’re ready. Then, when I say, ‘Go,’ they go.”
Huels said the two gentle giants work well as a team.
“They want to be together,” said Huels.
Added Slate Run Farm Program Manager Ann Culek, “They have been very good so far. Their Amish farm background shows in their abilities.”
Judy and Prince were brought in to replace some of the farm’s other draft horses who will be retiring soon – 26-year-old Maude and 27-year-old Kate. Last summer 18-year-old Sailor also retired.
“Those horses have worked hard and earned their retirement,” said Huels. “We’ll most likely have Judy and Prince here at the farm for 15 to 20 years.”
After Maude and Kate retire, Slate Run Living Historical Farm will have four working horses: Judy and Prince as well as Marquis, who is 15, and Bob, who is 7 years old.
The working historical farm portrays how farming was done in 1880s Ohio. It’s an era where horses played an important role performing the work a tractor now normally does on a modern farm.
For information on Slate Run Living Historical Farm, which is located at 1375 State Route 674 North, Canal Winchester, visit metroparks.net.