Big-Small World of Leathercraft, South African Edition
by Gene Fowler
As I sat wondrously immersed in the universe of the television program Yellowstone during its recently concluded fourth season—the hats, the horses, ranchers, cowboys, pretty women, gorgeous country, and a lone guitar—the notion that folks might have been savoring the same scenery on the other side of the world was the farthest thing from my mind.
The Republic of South Africa, for instance. Like many, if not most, Americans, my awareness of the nation on the southern tip of the African continent was so limited that it might as well have been on Mars. Then Shop Talk! asked me to write about the young South African leathercraft artist Arran Wood, who Instagram’s his beautiful and unique creations of equine tack with the handle @woodenwulf.
And when I asked Arran to tell me a little about his life in the former Dutch and British colony, he mentioned that Yellowstone is one of his favorite TV shows. And even more than the sumptuous landscape of the American West and the regional intrigue that dramatizes the collision of interests of a longtime ranching family, developers, politicians, Native Americans, and a bunkhouse full of colorful buckaroos, it’s the horse culture that captures Arran’s eye.
The twenty-three-year-old South African spent his first ten years in the urban environment of Cape Town, population 4.6 million-plus. “My family moved to a horse and cattle farm about twelve years ago,” he says. “Over the years I grew to know horses and their nature…. Slowly, over time I became a better rider through cattle herding and endurance riding. Then about four and a half years ago I saw some very interesting tack and bridle styles on Instagram.”
Living in South Africa, he continues, “it’s difficult to buy things from overseas, so I was inspired to make my own. I’ve always had a keen interest in making things with my hands, and after making my first bridle I realized there’s a market for this style of tack. So, I set about to create that for people.”
Arran says he learned leatherwork through trial and error, taking up the artform about the same time as his dad. “My whole family is creative. My mom spins her own wool from our sheep and does a lot of weaving. She also runs an outreach program called Hopeknitters. And my sister is a photographer; her business is Paigewoodphotography. My father studied fashion design and worked in that field for some time, then moved into designing buildings instead of clothes. He is also a skilled carpenter and does his own leatherwork, although it’s very different from my own. He makes and sells gun holsters and belts under the brand Arctic Wolf Gear. He taught me some leatherwork techniques, but we sort of picked up the trade at the same time and learned together.”
Arran reports that leatherworking tools are difficult to find in South Africa and expensive when you do find them. “There are a couple shops in the major cities and one or two good online stores. But I’m careful to maintain my equipment, keep my tools sharpened and oil them well, so they last a long time. In terms of the leatherworking craft in my country, I think there is a massive lack of skilled professionals who genuinely care about their work. You can find plenty of leather products, but there doesn’t seem to be much skill in the works. We suffer from a very large amount of unskilled labor, and we lack the professionals to teach these skills and hand them on. But at the same time, you’ll find some small businesses doing incredible work with leather. Our handcrafted leather shoe businesses are especially strong.”
Read more: Big-Small World of Leathercraft, South African Edition
An Excerpt from "Red Rock Ranch: Lucy's Chance" by Brittney Joy
by Brittney Joy
IT WAS FOUR minutes past noon and I was chasing a two hundred pound steer down the barn aisle. At three minutes past the hour I had my butt planted on the long wooden bench in the tack room and was halfway through my turkey-mayo sandwich. My first swig of Dr. Pepper fizzled down my throat and I closed my eyes, reveling in the cold, wet gulp. The cool air in the tack room reeked of worn leather and dirt.
Amidst my gulping, I’m not sure which came first: the frustrated hollers from Marilynn or a chocolate-brown blaze of fur and hooves flying past the open door. Either way, I dropped my pop can and scrambled out into the barn aisle, looking from one end to the other. Marilynn stood with her hands on her hips in the barn doorway. Her five foot, petite frame didn’t make much of a silhouette against the sun, but her voice made up for it. She pointed at the steer trotting down the aisle. “Get that little bugger,” she yelled, and I turned, racing straight for him.
I ran like I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t. I pumped my arms and tried to lengthen my stride, but cowboy boots do not make great running shoes. Their slick leather soles slid against the concrete floor instead of gripping it. Trying not to twist an ankle, I steadied my long legs into a safer speed, but the steer didn’t slow a bit. In fact, he picked up his pace. With his tail flagged high over his back, his hooves clipped against the floor as he darted out the opposite end of the barn. Marilynn had spent the morning showing me the ropes. Mucking stalls, grooming horses, packing hay bales around—those were all going to be part of my job. I didn’t recall her saying anything about tackling cattle, but I didn’t want to let her down. Not on my first day. So I ran.
Read more: An Excerpt from "Red Rock Ranch: Lucy's Chance" by Brittney Joy
Excerpt from "A Filly Called Easter"
by Laura Hesse
The golden palomino standing before her with soft brown eyes and a silver mane and tail was drop dead gorgeous… and much too young to be that pregnant! What was a filly like her doing at a slaughter house auction? Would her father let Linda take her home? Times were hard. Could they afford the vet bills for the filly and her unborn foal? There were bound to be many. Find the answer to these questions in this amazing Hallmark style story about love at first sight and the girl who just wouldn’t give up on the filly called Easter, especially when Mother Nature enters into the fray. Inspired by a true story.
“Dad,” Linda McCloud asked casually from across the kitchen table, a spoonful of Cheerios in one hand, the bowl on the table in front of her more cereal than milk.
“Yes, Sweet Pea,” Tom McCloud replied. He sighed heavily and put down the Financial Post, a dispirited look on his face. Beef prices were still low and showed no sign of getting any better. He folded the paper an extra two times and tossed it in the recycle box by the door: out of sight, out of mind!
“Can I come to the auction with you and Ross today?” his daughter beamed sweetly.
Tom looked up and grinned, his spirits lifting at the sight of the sparkling blue eyes and the earnest face that greeted him. Linda was the image of her mother: blue-grey eyes, shoulder length dirty blond hair and a full moon face. She was the picture of innocence, however cheeky her motive. His heart swelled with pride whenever he looked at her. His daughter never ceased to amaze him and he wasn’t surprised by her question. Tom tried to keep his face stern and sober. He already knew why she wanted to come today, but didn’t let on.
“You don’t think that you’d be bored? Cattle auctions, these days, aren’t much fun,” he said, lifting a mug to his lips. He gulped down the last of the strong coffee and placed the “World’s Greatest Dad” mug down on the table. It had been a Christmas present from his son and daughter a couple of years ago; it was his favorite cup.
“I won’t get in your way. I promise. I’d just like to go, that’s all,” she finished. “You’ve never taken me before and I want to see the bulls. I think it’d be neat!”
Horses Show Annual Grass Preferences
Amanda Grev, Craig Sheaffer, and Krishona Martinson
The authors are a graduate research assistant, agronomy professor, and extension equine specialist, respectively, at the University of Minnesota.
With one of the greatest expenditures of horse ownership being feed costs, horse owners often look for ways to reduce these costs. Pastures can provide a lower cost source of forage for horses compared to hay or other purchased feeds, and has the capability to meet or exceed the dietary requirements for many categories of horses. Therefore, maximizing pasture productivity can be a valuable tool for reducing feed costs.
In the Upper Midwest, cool-season perennial grasses are the foundation of productive horse pastures. However, there may be opportunities to utilize alternative forages such as annual cool-season grasses to extend the grazing season earlier in the spring or later in the fall. In addition to extending the grazing season, annuals can be used to provide forage in emergency grazing situations when perennial forages are lost following winterkill, floods, or drought.