The Farm Chronicles: Fred and the manure spreader

You see a lot of things on a farm. Strange things. The kind of things that you just can’t make up. Fred and the manure spreader was one of them. We had this appaloosa gelding named Fred. Now Fred was one of those types of horses that seemed to always have a situation. He was like that child that couldn’t help to find himself in predicaments that he shouldn’t be in. Like letting the horses out of the barn in the morning. Fred would be the one who would try to turn around in his tie stall, only to get stuck and not be able to come out. We would have to go in and try to help him see how to maneuver his big old speckled body so he was facing front again and then help him back out. That was Fred.

Before we built the new horse barn when I was 14, we had remodeled the old dairy barn. Where cow stanchions used to be, we built eight tie stalls. We filled in the gutter with cement. Put up partitions, hay mangers, feed boxes and a special 2 X 4 across the front to tie the horses. The other part of the barn still had six stanchions and two tie stalls for draft horses. In the winter time, we would do chores in the morning and the evening. Along about 5:00, when it was getting dark, we had a signal for all the livestock to come in for the night. One of us would stand in the barn door and let out a yell, like woooooooeeeeee, wooooooooeeeeee! Cattle and horses alike would start making their way from the fields to the barn.

We would always have the hay in the mangers and grain in the bins all prepared before we would call them in. Each animal knew where their stall was.  After the first few times, it was an orderly process. The cows would go to their place and put their heads through the stanchions and begin eating. The horses would file in and take their normal stall. That is, all except Fred. Fred seemed to get confused often. And when he did, the other horses would become very agitated. Sometimes a little fight would break out because Fred was in someone else’s stall and that horse didn’t like it at all. Fred would get bit or kicked and finally Dad or I would catch up with the situation, back him out and lead him to his own stall. One chilly day, we put hay out in the barnyard for the horses to graze.

The manure spreader was parked a few feet away. All the horses were gathered around munching on the hay. But Fred couldn’t seem to find a place to settle in. The horses were laying back their ears and nipping at Fred as he tried to push his way between them to get his share of hay. Suddenly, we heard this big crashing sound—all the way in the kitchen of the house. Looking out the window, there was Fred, laying on his back, legs flailing up in the air in the manure spreader. How he got there, we don’t know. The other horses were just looking at us like, “What?” And it wasn’t easy getting him out. Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Fred was a good example of why you would remember the name of the Lord. He needed a lot of prayer.

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Bill Wilson