Nature was greening up all around us. Dad talked about hunting ginseng in the woods. The lilacs started blooming. The maples budded, then leafed out. Tulips on the south side of the house poked up through the ground. Our neighbors, John and Mildred Payne, tapped trees for maple syrup. John told us, “There is some little sap in every family tree,” a joke I never got until years later.
Yes, spring had arrived, a very welcome relief from being cooped up months on end in a large family with many kids. A sense of freedom, running through the moist grass with bare feet, the warm sun beating on the turned cheek. What a joyous feeling! Soft, warm winds blew from the south. Gone were those sharp icy blasts from the north. We were ready to break out the horses and start the plowing of this year’s crops.
Horses were being replaced with tractors while I was still a kid, but horses continued to do a lot of our farming. The grain drill for the oats and wheat was big and heavy and required a team of three horses. For many years, that trio consisted of Prince, Dolly and Sam.
Sam was a wild horse and did not play well with our other horses. To take the spunk out of Sam, Dad hitched him with Dolly, a big black horse. With all that extra energy, he had them pull the sled through snow drifts, since it had four large runners attached to a wagon box. I loved riding Dolly using just a bridle. She would simply walk, not run or trot, which suited me just fine. We had no saddle; our horses were workers.