By Sandra Rudoski – Yorkton, Sask.
My husband, Ron, cleans our barn and goat pen with his team of Norwegian Fjord horses, Nissen and Lance, hooked to a 1933 Oliver manure spreader.
The old manure spreader was special ordered to have rubber tires by Gordon and Irvin Pearce who lived east of Yorkton near Rokeby. Gordon thought it was the first rubber-tired spreader, as all others were steel-wheeled.
We had known Gordon and Irvin for many years, through the Yorkton Threshermen Show where they devoted a lot of time and we were there giving rides with our miniature horses and usually had a bit of a petting zoo of mini goats and a few mini mares with foals. This is another story!
About 20 years ago while at Gordon’s to help him cut down a crop of oats with a binder, Gordon asked Ron if he had use for an old manure spreader. It had been parked for many years, still had its original tires, “imagine that,” sitting outside.
The front wheel rims were badly rusted, and most of the wood parts were roughed or gone. Somehow, Ron was intrigued by the old piece of machinery and took Gordon up on his offer.
Ron didn’t have a big team of horses at that time, but he set to rebuilding the old manure spreader. First it needed different front rims and he was lucky enough to find a pair that fit off of a neighbour’s old CCIL swather. He used deck boards to replace the old floorboards and sides of the box. Having no team to pull it, a tractor hitch was put on it for the time being.
Ron bought a pair of Haflinger horses from the U.S.A. in 2006. They resemble small Belgian horses with white faces and blonde in colour. They were trained as a team and did many sleigh rides and trail drives, but for some reason were never hitched to the old manure spreader.
Maybe because they were some spirited and the old manure spreader is very noisy when in operation. Ron decided to sell them.
In July 2010 Ron’s interest was drawn to an auction sale. The one horse, an older gelding, 17, very well-trained, had done most everything in his life, like years of logging in the bush, and sleigh and wagon rides. At the auction Ron, after seeing Nissen, decided no matter the cost, he’d come home with us.
Nissen now needed a teammate and Ron began looking on the Internet and was lucky enough to find Lance, an eight-year-old, well-trained to ride but not to drive.
He had a very quiet nature and by Nissen’s side Lance soon learned to be a harness horse at trail rides, sleigh rides and even Yorkton’s 2011 Threshermen Show. There is a lot of noise, movement, and people to deal with, but they handled it very well for two days.
To clean the barn the stoneboat is used during winter. This spring, being very wet in our area, the tractor got stuck in the back corral. You couldn’t push a wheelbarrow nowhere. Once again the old manure spreader came to mind. Ron got busy putting a horse pole and doubletree set on it and a seat where he could ride to drive his team.
Nissen and Lance took very well to their new job. The noise bothered Lance a bit, but Old Nissen just took it as another job to be done and Lance soon settled down.
There are miniature mares foaling now in the barn, so the old spreader is hooked up once or twice a week. It has become a real conversation piece when the picture appeared on the front of one of the local papers.