Curator's Photo Diary
By Roy Hickling
Photography By Greg Amann

April 24

Clockwise from left: Roy Hickling, Greg Amann, Paula Pick, John Lister, Rebbeca Truax, Doug Scholes, and Barb Robillard.

One of the many committee meetings that have gone into making this project happen.

The wheat has survived, although with quite a few thin spots due to winter kill. Some of these should fill in a bit as the wheat begins to grow, but we have decided not to try to do any replanting…better a few mangy spots than a patchwork quilt appearance.

April 27

Out to the field to mark out where the spring crops will be planted. We plan these excursions on weekends so that we can make it a family outing.

This truckload of helpers are enjoying a well earned snack.

May 12

Unloading a truckload of stakes, a welcome job because the horse is now officially standing on his own.

Checking the soil moisture. The spring has been unusually wet and this has delayed the planting of the alfalfa and canola by two or three weeks. Most of the field is clay with some fairly heavy areas, and is therefore slow to dry. We have been frustratingly close to being ready to work a couple of times, only to be rained out.

May 14

Wilfred Peacock loads his ATV's spreader with a mixture of alfalfa, clovers, and timothy and gets the first seeding of the spring done. Luckily this corner where our tent, Ferris wheel and balloon rides will be located is of lighter soil allowing us to get it planted before the imminent rainfall.

May 22

Finally a break in the weather. Hoyle Campbell arrives with a huge tractor, 50 foot cultivator in tow, to scratch over some ground and get it drying. Hoyle is a retired farmer who used to work this field, and now helps his neighbour Bob Kerr (the owner of this equipment) with his spring work. Bob, Wendy and family of Charwen Farms are the hosts of this years Plowing Match, and have been very helpful with this project as well. Their elevator will accept the crop that will be sent to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

May 23

Ivan and Barry Degeer parked between the horses' feet. The Degeer's own the property where our horse is located, and have been helpful in packing crops, digging postholes for signs, and are also quite active and involved with the Match.

Greg took this photo while Hoyle and I were running for parts for Bob's corn planter. The corn was in the ground at 8:00 p.m. but unfortunately without any photos. Breakdowns are as unpredictable as the weather. The next morning Cargill Alliston airflowed the canola on using a huge truck with a 70 foot boom, but since they did it at 5:00 a.m. there is understandably no photo of this either.

The aerial photos that Bob Douglas of Douglas Air took on this day are worth noting. Even though the wheat is quite green from the ground, from 1500' it is just barely visible. The contrasts created by the cultivator (visible in the shot) really makes the horse stand out. There is a wet spot at the front leg giving us a perfectly formed hoof, something you couldn't plan if you tried, and the textures that are just becoming visible in the wheat, suggest muscle and sinew.

May 27

That's my father Harold Hickling helping me load the drill with soybeans. I was finished my own seeding and my volunteer hadn't started his yet. There had been rain in the forecast so I offered to plant the last crop.

It was the first time that my dad had seen the field, and from the ground it is a little hard to tell just how accurate the horse is, and he told me to tell Joe that the legs were too long. When he saw the next aerial photo however, his message to Joe changed to "This is a Clyde, tell Joe next time to do a Percheron."

June 1

Another weekend work crew heads out to the horse's head.

Getting set up, between the horses' ears.
Doug Scholes gives the lead ear a bit of a shave. We tend to be a little conservative during these operations, and check our work in the next aerial photo, trimming a bit more next time, if necessary. What are those kids in the background up to?
Environmental art in its purest form.

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