Thursday, March 17, 2016

Horses, farming and quilts

I had a short trip back home last week, more to take an art quilting class than to visit.  The trip ended up being an interesting illustration of the six degrees of separation theory, and tied together some significant interests in my life.
The class was held at Lake Farm Park, an educational working farm, but forty years ago, the land was Locust Farms, home to a nationally renowned Arabian horse breeding and training facility.  In the mid to late 1970s, the farm was undergoing some expansion as their herd of horses grew.  Many of their horses were imported from Poland, and the farm brought back not only the equines, but European methods of raising them.  Mares and foals in Europe were typically housed in large, open barns (without stalls), in small herds.  My father helped build those “Polish barns” at Locust Farms.  He was a fulltime firefighter in the city of Cleveland, and his battalion chief was the foreman of Locust Farms.  Since they worked a 24 hour-on, 48 hour-off shift, many firefighters took additional jobs.  The chief/foreman made a habit of hiring firefighters for building projects on the farm. 
A view of the Polish barns in the distance
There were a couple of occasions when my parents took my toddler self out to Locust Farms, and I am sure this was how my future horse craziness started.  I only have vague memories of the farm, just brief images in my mind… I do remember seeing the farm’s premier stallion, Gwalior.  He has his own huge 40’x20’ wood paneled stall, monitored 24/7 by overhead cameras.  These were not your average pleasure horses, the Arabian horse market in the 1970s and early 1980s was not far behind the Thoroughbred industry in terms of value.  Several influential people in the entertainment industry got into Arabian horses, there’s no telling which of them might have visited Locust Farms. 
The Gwalior memorial

My class ran all day, so I did not get to wander around the Farm Park to see how they are using the Polish barns now.  I would like to go back there to visit, as I have a strong interest in sustainable agriculture.  I’d like to see what the park has to offer in that regard.  Next year, I should have a quilt entered in their annual show, so that wish will likely be fulfilled.  I learned a few new design ideas from the class, more ways to use scraps, and ways to alter images for transformation into fabric creations.

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