I have visited nearby New Wilmington, Pa., Amish farming country for the past 22 years on a photo odyssey of their farming methods. One day there wasn’t much activity because the soil was too wet. My Amish-farmer friends had told me that the big one-ton Belgian Draft work horses would sink into the soil under those conditions. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
I make a regular 5-mile photographic run in a secluded area, where I am well known to some of the farmers. I concentrate on the horses at work, such as Belgian Drafts, Percherons and my friend Andy’s team of mules. I photograph two-, three-, four-, five- and six-teamers.
At the end of my run before retracing my route is the farm of one of my best friends, another Andy. He was out in the field, walking along with his preschool tag-a-long son. He said, “I just told my son, here comes the picture man.”
He asked me if I wanted to photograph a couple of 8-month-old fillies that I had never seen. The horses were named Beth and Bonnie.
I replied, “Sure, what do you have in mind?” He said he would let them out of the barn and they would run to the fenced-in area behind the barn. They bounded out of the dark barn into the sunlight. They were about the size of a pony, well on their way to becoming “One Tonner” Beautiful Belgian Draft work horses.
They had white muzzles and pink noses. I wasn’t totally prepared for their high-energy race horselike banter. They seemed to be performing for my camera, with an occasional pause to stare at me. I finally captured a photo that I was looking for — bouncing Bonnie had kicked up her heels like a bucking Bronco.
Michael J. Lacivita is a Youngstown retiree and member of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame and Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.