Christmas hayride

FTLComm - Tisdale - Sunday, December 8, 2002
Some of the greatest mysteries of life can only be understood with experience. There is no rational explanation for getting on a hay rack and riding around the streets of a town on a cold Sunday morning behind a team of horses. But there is a mystery, stories of times past when this was a standard mode of transportation, times when horses were the means of working a farm and were a part of every rural family's life.

This morning the Dagg horses were rounding town with a load of people, all smiles and waving, enjoying the moment and building their own traditions, their own stories that they will share as part of the lives they are building upon.

Though I can remember several United Church young people's group hay rides when I was a teenager, the one that stands out in my memory was a weird one. As a group we had gone out to the Cairns farm in a snowy December Friday or Saturday night. The hay rack was partly filled with lush green hay and we pulled away from the front of the farm house off of a small hill. There were a lot of us aboard and as part of the fun a long rope was attached to the back of the rack and a wood toboggan tied on and we would take turns jumping off the moving sleigh as it slid along the snow trail and run back and jump on the toboggan while those on the toboggan rolled off and dashed to catch up with the rack working its way along in the moonlit night.

There was laughter and the usual banter, we were having a fine time. As the trail turned back toward the farm yard the horses who were also in good spirits, picked up the pace a bit and as we neared the yard Jim Dean and I had made it to the trailing toboggan and were enjoying the thrill of the thing moving now at a good speed. I was in the front, Jim Dean behind me and perhaps one or more guys behind him. As we came through the outer gate disaster struck.

Cairns had a herd of cattle and cattle being cattle are not house or yard trained and make deposits just where ever the spirit moves them. In the summer these treasures dry up and work back into the soil, but in the dead of winter they melt through the snow then freeze like pointed toboggan smashers. The first few hit us with a solid jolt, but the speed of the team was now at a real clip and the smashing on the toboggan transmitted through to our bottoms with in recurring shockwaves.

The back two riders on the tobaggan were knocked off and were stunned as they rolled through the cow mountain minefield. Dean was holding on to me and I was determined to stay with the toboggan, or what was left of it, as it was smashing beneath us and soon we also were rolling and being bounced almost senselss. Fortunately, the braking boards of the toboggan did not stab us badly, but walking was definitely out of the question for some minutes.

No one on the hay rack, including Mr. Cairns who was driving, realised what the consequenses of going over those frozen cow pies would be. Had it not happened to me, I would not have this story to tell and that night in 1958 would have just been another blurred memory.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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