Since the beginning of November I've been stopped at a scrapyard near Eastbourne in Sussex. Tarateeno, my cob has pulled my wagon down from Stranraer, Scotland, 921 miles in 10 weeks. Averaging 13 miles a day or 92 miles a week.
In the scrapyard I drove the wagon over the weighbridge, Tarateeno weighed 500 kilos ,[1100 lbs] and the wagon weighed 880 kilos , [1940 lbs]. Tarateeno is about 15 hands tall,[a hand is 4 inches] or 153cm. I like to weigh my horses, to check they are not losing condition, [you can tell this by looking too] but also so l know how much wormer or medicine to give.
In 2010 l put Tarateeno on the weighbridge at Appleby and as a 4 year old he weighed 460 kilos, then my wagon weighed 680 kilos. In the winter my wagon weighs more, because l tend to have more clothes and bedding, also a bucket of coal and a couple of days firewood for the stove. It's always a battle to keep weight down. As well as my tinsmithing tools and sheets of copper, l have a riding saddle, spare harness, bridles, lunge lines,lariat,3 tether pins and chains, l need these in case l get more horses or have to train any.
A wagon like mine shouldn't weigh much more than 500 kilos when it's empty.
When horses are worked constantly they get jaded and need a rest, just like us. Behind the scrapyard there is about 30 acres of very good grass and I've turned my cob out with some other horses.
Mick, who owns the scrapyard, is very interested in wagons and cobs, and when he can, he goes off for a few days with his wagon. He's got a nice lish little open lot, suitable for a smaller cob of 14 hands.
I'm in the yard next to a pile of old car engines. One day they'll be put in a furnace and heated up to separate the Ali [aluminium] from the steel. 'Irony-ali' is not worth much, separated they're worth much more. In the past I've earned money going out with a horse and cart collecting scrap metal, it's quite interesting, you never know what people will give you. Horses that have done this kind of work soon get quiet and sensible. Scrapyards have a kind of beauty, but l also find them depressing reminders of our careless aspirational desires. I like wandering around the yard looking at the twisted piles of metal, sometimes a piece of metal asks me to make it into something. I enjoy making things and tin smithing helps satiate that desire, l try to make items that are functional and aesthetically pleasing to look at.
View from the wagon
I find it quite difficult to stop and rest and for a while felt a bit depressed here, luckily the Pevensey Levels are quite beautiful and I've kept busy making clothes pegs and coppersmithing and doing maintenance on my wagon. Mick is very kind and helpful and I'm glad to be here for a bit. I borrowed a treader and cycled down to the beach at Pevensey. There is a lovely old Norman Castle there.
Pevensey Levels 12th December at Dusk
Bruce Chatwin wrote in his book, Anatomy of Restlessness, ' The argument, roughly, was as follows: that in becoming human, man had acquired, together with his straight legs and striding walk, a migratory 'drive' or instinct to walk long distances through the seasons, that this 'drive' was inseparable from his central nervous system and, that, when warped in conditions of settlement , it found outlets in violence, greed, status-seeking or mania for the new....... 'Also why Buddha, Lao-tse and St. Francis had set the perpetual pilgrimage at the heart of their message.......
Talking of greed and a mania for the new,reminds me it's almost Christmas, a time when the philosophy of futility temporarily reaches its pointless zenith, I've given my two daughters a little gift each and some cash, for the rest of you this post is my gift.