Friday, October 11, 2019
The Shrewd King 12.5: Never look a gift horse...
Lorraine Blastic met with Di Carney at the pub run by Gabby Salazar. The pub was on the Carney property and was the best place to catch up with Di.
“This is quite a treat” Lorraine said as she ate a burger and picked at some french fries. It was rare that Lorraine had a chance to eat anything she had not cooked herself. For Di, it was almost a necessity as she was run from pillar-to-post trying to keep up with the demand for transportation.
Di suggested that Lorraine meet her at noon when she changed out horses. Neither talked directly to the other. They both communicated through Gladys who was the operator of the local CB net.
Di was impatient. She didn’t have time for social chit-chat. She only agreed to the meeting because it seemed so unlikely.
Lorraine immediately picked up on Di’s fidgets and got to the point.
“My husband, Denny, wants to lease out some of our horses. We thought you might know of somebody who needed them.” Lorraine said.
That got Di’s attention like nothing else could.
Di had almost enough horses. She could be doing heavy hauling every day but that would be too much for her horses. She compromise by doing heavy hauling on Tuesdays and Fridays and light hauling on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. She and the horses took Sunday off.
Heavy hauling involved hitching up both horses to the wagon and moving big loads.
The days she did light hauling she hitched up one horse to the buggy and swapped out at mid-day.
While she probably could have pushed her horses harder, she was concerned that if one of them lamed up that she would be out of the heavy-hauling business and the economy of Kates Store and Pray Church would suffer.
The horses seemed to enjoy the variety and there was far more cartage work than she and her horses could keep up with.
Di had approached various neighbors with horses, but even after the rise in the price of corn the neighbors were reluctant to let somebody else work their horses. They didn’t mind working them personally, but they were leery that anybody else would abuse them.
“How many horses are you looking to lease out?” Di asked, carefully.
“Ten.” Lorraine said.
In addition to reducing her work load, Di was also motivated because she was appalled at the sudden loss of social status experienced by many women. Before Ebola, equal-pay-for-equal-work was enshrined in both the culture and the law. After Ebola, it suddenly became apparent that most women could not do “equal work” in the absence of knowledge work, electric motors and diesel engines.
Work meant physical labor, usually labor that demanded much upper-body strength. There were some exceptions, weeding crops for example. But for the most part it took twice as many woman to drag wood out of the swamp as men and, consequently, their work was valued half as much.
Di was lucky on two counts. She was married to man with high status in Kates Store and she had two horses. If a horse can do the work of ten men, then simply owning them gave her the status of twenty, ordinary men.
She wanted other women, especially unmarried women, to have the same opportunity. For it was her studied opinion that the average woman is better at handling horses than the average man. There was no shortage of young women who learned horsemanship through Four-H and FFA. There was a shortage of horses, however.
“I think I might be able to help, depending on what you are asking for rent.” Di said. Her next hauling gig would have to wait.
“I am afraid the conditions are not negotiable” Lorraine said. “Whoever leases the animals has to return them a month before they foal. They have to feed them enough to keep them in the condition they are in and care for their hooves. They will be responsible for providing all of their tack and shoes and so on.”
“That is reasonable” Di said. “How much is the rent?”
Lorraine drew in a breath, “Two bushels of corn a week, per horse” and then she waited for Di to explode.
Di rolled the number around in her head. Kelly was buying quite a bit of corn but he had found out that brewer’s waste was highly sought by folks who raised chickens because it had high levels of protein. Eggs and chicken meat is mostly protein.
Consequently, he recovered a high percentage of his cost outlay for the grain when selling the brewer’s waste. That was in addition to the value-added for the alcohol which was in high demand for drinking, fuel and other chemical processes.
The other consideration was that Kelly had a huge credit balance. That had gone a long way toward reducing his job stress and their relationship had improved markedly. Di had no doubt that Kelly would advance her “seed money” to get the horses-for-ladies project going.
“Ok, I am in” Di said. “I will take them all.”
“My only condition is that I want them two-at-a-time so I can make sure they are well placed before I get the next team.” Di said.
“That won’t be possible.” Lorraine said. “You have to take all ten.”
Denny was bluffing. He was behind the eight-ball for feed. He needed to to reduce the number of mouths by ten and increase his reserves of corn NOW.
Di considered for five seconds. “OK. I can take all ten tomorrow. Do they all get along or do I have to separate some of them?”
Lorraine assured her that all ten horses got along. She knew that for a fact.
After Lorraine left, Di got on the CB and asked Gladys to cancel all of her afternoon commitments. Di had to find five horsewomen in a hurry and she was going to start by driving over to the 4-H leader and former Eaton Rapids Equestrian Team coach who lived just south of Kates Store to get a list.