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 ramblings and things

Shoeing Day

Spring nineteen forty nine,
Aged just six years old,
Standing in the warm forge
To escape the spring cold.
A gathering of farmers
Talking about this and that
Their blacksmith visit used
As opportunity for a chat.
For me a special occasion.
A single shoeing day.
Standing watching Uncle,
Keeping well out of the way.
Keeping out of the range
Of the big heavy hoop
Of the big old shire tethered
Under the forge's low roof.
Watching the nail being rasped,
The burning smell from the heat
As each  hot shoe was placed
On one of the waiting feet..
Swift sure hammer strikes
To fix it securely into place
The concentrated look on
Uncle's young old face.
Hard and dirty work shoeing
And more than a bit risky
If the horse was nervous
Young and  liable to be  frisky.
This not a highly strung hunter
Very liable to lash out
But a big gentle old Shire
Knowing what it was all about.
The watching farmers chatting
Sometimes ruffling my hair
I was Old Tom's young  lad
They were used to me there.
Sometimes if they felt generous
I might be given the odd penny
But these were canny farmers
So I didn't get so very many.
The Shire's tether loosed from
The ring set in the forge wall
Another horse shod  without
Much fuss or bother at all.
I'd watchit led into the yard
To stand  placid and calm
Waiting to be mounted
And ridden back to the farm.
From many years later I look
Back to those childhood days
In a little farming village with
It's more easy, slower ways.
Rich in everything but money
A gentle caring childhood
I suppose it had its bad times
But I just remember the good.
It's just a listed building now
Its yard empty and overgrown
But think of the farming history
That old smithy must have known.
Close my eyes tightly and I can hear
Shuffling feet, a whinny or a neigh
As if each horse said goodbye
Before plodding off on its way.

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