Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Sharing Heart

If you'd like to take a step back in time, when life moved at a slower pace, or if you'd just like to blow some of those cobwebs out of your mind and get a 'Fresh Air Life' start on the new year, I'd suggest a leisurely, open air horse-drawn wagon ride pulled by Kelly Kloppenborg's team of majestic Clydesdale horses.

Kelly, who has been employed by the Natural Resource District in O'Neill, Nebraska for six years as a water technician, is also co-owner with his brother Kirby of the Emmet Hay Company. The business was started in 1909 by the Cole family, and Don, Kelly's father, bought the business in 1970.

Kelly and his wife Terry of Emmet, Nebraska, (population 77), have been sharing the pleasure of their Clydesdale horses by providing others with a glance back at how farming and transportation was before the automobile.

'Horse power' is our operative word here...these 'gentle giants' who "have a good disposition and are well-behaved", were bred as work horses. Kelly has used the horses for "all facets of the haying operation"; mowing, raking, sweeping, pulling the hay stacker up, etc., and also for planting and harvesting oats and a bit of dirt work.

Long before Emmet Hay's Centennial year, Don Kloppenborg had the idea of using the Clydesdales to demonstrate how the hay operation was carried out before modern farm equipment did the job; and in August of 2009, 100 years after the inception of the business, the Kloppenborgs featured working demonstrations in a day long event on the outskirts of town.

In 1999, when Kelly had bought his first horses--a mother and daughter, he decided to "let other people enjoy the horses the way I do"and began giving horse-drawn wagon rides. He had the horses bred, resulting in a colt from the mother, and the day I was taking these pictures, the brother and sister team--'Hank and Dixie', were pulling a wagon full of laughing Kindergartners and their teachers.

Along with school children, he also provides rides for wedding parties, carolers, family reunions, and non-profit organizations such as 4-H. Recently he donated a sleigh ride to the Faith Regional Hospital in Norfolk, Nebraska for their fund raiser, and locally he donated a wagon ride to a local church's auction that was purchased by a young engaged couple to be used for their July 2010 wedding. The Kloppenborgs also enjoy 'teaming up' with other horse owners who drive about 6 miles out into the country in covered wagons to have a family style old fashioned picnic lunch.

Kelly currently has 6 horses that he uses together or separately. His daughter, grandson, and father also help drive the horses, so it's a "family thing".

When I've seen the horses moving down the street at a brisk trot, their bells jingling and riders waving and joyfully shouting to passersby, I'm thankful of the Kloppenborg's willingness to give back to their community in such a wonderful, fun and sharing way.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hometown Girl Makes the Grade!

Our favorite poetess, Geraldine Kilgore, has just had her story entitled 'You Can Take the Girl Out of Nebraska' published in the e-magazine, Nebraska Rural Living. You'll find it refreshing! Click Here.