Count Your Horses

Names were changed to retain the integrity of the guilty.

Clara was 18 and her husband, Jakey was 20 when they were married. Jakey was a scrawny little fellow scarcely tipping the scales much over 120 pounds. She was robust. They moved on to the family farm and kind of farmed. He is a hustler. In his hustling, he sometimes forgets why he is hustling.

In the early days of their marriage, I watched him come up the lane to the barn with a load of hay. I looked at that load of hay, and at the horses that were supposed to pull it up a steep hill and into the barn, and I came to a thoughtful conclusion. I knew for certain that those horses would not pull that load up the drive. His optimism, however, was the size of the load.

The horses looked like mice peering up to the top of a grandfather clock. Though the mouse may have looked up at the clock, you may as well forget about Hickory, Dickory Dock. Those horses would definitely not be running or walking any hill with that load. Jakey looked like a little replica of himself sitting way up on top of that load of hay.

I trembled with excitement. Let the show begin.

Suddenly, the scrawny little fellow way up on that mountain of hay slapped the lines and screeched an astonishing yell that rose way above his size. The horses dug in. The yells rolled over them. The wagon inched forward.

He continued yelling as the horses crouched low. They pulled with all their will and their great strength. The screams rose to a terrific crescendo as the horses treaded gravel. Peculiarly, I noticed that though the horses’ feet moved nothing else much did.

Finally, they stopped. The brake was quickly set, a fork grabbed, and the unloading began. The brake was released, the screams rose and the horses pulled—for one foot. The brake was set again and more hay was unloaded. This happened about three times until a good half of the hay was unloaded.

I decided then and there that children should never get married until they are able to evaluate the size of their horses in comparison to the size of the load.

The moral of this true story:

“Sitting on your work does not necessarily mean that you know the full size of it.”

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