Page 19 - Fr. Rod MacSween's Memories of Ironville
ISSUE : Issue 67
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/8/1
named Minnie. To a child like myself she was very imposing • so slow and deliberate, so powerful, and so aloof from humans. The last point may have been a delusion since animals generaly show httle emotion except when aroused by fear. In any case, Minnie did move around the farm in a very impressive manner. When I reached the period of memory, Minnie had a lovely colt, a thing of beauty. I can recall both of them being released into the open meadow in the spring. Minnie walked slowly forward to sniff the fresh grass, but the colt went into a series of rapid circles around its mother, at the same time breaking wind like a machine gun. My father and mother laughed and called to each other in Gaelic as they watched the colt. Gaehc was their citadel behind which they could joke to their hearts' content. One day I wandered into what could be called our parlor and found my father lying on a couch, one of his legs exposed, while my mother put a hot compress on his thigh. With my camera mind I stood and gazed and discovered tfiat he had been kicked by Minnie while tiiey were plowing. Days later he and Minnie were still working together as though nothing had occurred. When I was much older, he told me what had happened. The large hamess had broken and he had put poor Minnie, a huge horse, into a smaller hamess • which could not contain her. Again and again he was forced to stop in order to lift one of Minnie's huge hoofs within the chain. Once when she would not move, he kicked her with the side of his boot just above the hoof. Like lightning she kicked him on the thigh, and left him groaning on the grass. He made his way slowly and painfully to ??ie house where my mother cared for him. Minnie had the better case and he knew it, and he never made that mistake again.... I asked (my father, years later) if Minnie ever strack him again. "No," he said, "but I was more careful after that." And then he told me about a cow that he had mistreated in a moment of im? patience, a cow that never forgave him. He was only a boy at the time and one of his duties was shovel? ing the manure out of the trough behind the cows. It was hard work at best and was made much harder by that certain cow who persisted in keeping her hind feet in the manure. One day in exasperation he struck her with the shovel behind the hoof. From that day on she made life miserable for him. As he worked his way towards her, he could see her head tum and her eyes glare at him. And when he got close to her, she kicked at him swiftly and accurately. "Many's the day I ran or jumped by, hoping I could make it safely." Instances of this kind were rare. My father loved the animals and they responded to him in their tum. I remember his irrita? tion when, during the Second World War, he heard of the sale of horse meat. "How can anyone eat it?" he asked. 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We were not close friends and not in the habit of visiting each other. "Are you in town on business?" I asked. He looked em? barrassed and twisted in his chair. He said, "No," and looked even more embarrassed. Then he said, like a little child, "I came to see our horse. I sold him to a man from town and today I called in to see how he was faring." He didn't have to say more. My father and he had the same spirit. Whenever I think of the farm, I see in my mind's eye my father leading Minnie out of the bam. Sometimes he waters and feeds her; sometimes he puts hamess on her, and then backs her into a buggy or a wagon of some sort. Sometimes she goes out to plow; sometimes she drags in huge wagonloads of hay. And then I might ran behind the hay, my bare feet almost pierced by the sharp stubble, but I don't want to stay behind. What a relief it was when they would lift me up on top of the hay! 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