"God Must've Needed a Logger"

Don Val Lily

I had the brand inspector out to help me with paperwork to move a pony to a new home.  He said, “God must’ve needed a logger.”  He was referring to the recent death of my husband Don Ewy.

Don began his life in the woods working with a mule named Pete.  Pete worked loose-headed in the pole patch.  Don would hitch him to a bundle of poles, and Pete would head down the mountain with the load, stopping at the appointed spot, and waiting until he was unhitched and pointed back up the hill for the next load.  Pete knew his work and he knew quitting time.  At the end of the day he would not go back up the hill but instead go the other direction to where his harness was to be removed.

It was only natural, then, that Don would find jobs for my ponies in his business when we arrived in his life.  We did lots of skidding (though never loose-headed!), and we occasionally packed his chainsaw when he couldn’t drive to a work site.  The photo here shows him with two of my early Fells, Newfarm Valencia and Turkeytrot Sand Lily, when we took them to the woods to accustom them to the many sights and sounds of active logging.

I took Don to Cumbria three times, and always the highlight of our trips was walking on the fells.  He had traveled internationally once before, to Brazil, as a consulting forester.  He spent a good portion of that trip on the Rio Negro, a tributary to the Amazon, where he had to choose between piranhas in the water and enormous snakes in the trees.  He said his best option was always to know where the captain’s pistol was, so he could shoot himself rather than face either of the animate hazards.  I know he was more comfortable on the fells by a long way.

In the last few years, Don had become increasingly articulate about what a proper Fell Pony should look like and how they should move.  I always looked forward to discussing our newest foal or a picture I’d received of a pony.

When I first met Don, he told me his dad had died at age forty two, and he expected to do the same.  Then I learned I’d met him when he was forty-two.  Everyday thereafter was a blessing.

Each time we visited Cumbria, we were honored to be guests of Bill and Isobel Potter at the Greenholme Fell Pony Stud.  Like the Potters, Don didn’t mind challenging the status quo, more than once taking on land stewardship agencies when their decisions weren’t up to his standards.  Recently Don was worried for Bill and Isobel’s health due to the stress they’ve been under.  If you feel so moved, a remembrance to the Potters’ legal defense fund would be appropriate (click here) or to one of Don’s volunteer activities:  North Park (Colorado) Fire Rescue Authority or Jackson County (Colorado) Search and Rescue.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2019