Countdown to Sleigh Rides

Sleigh Rides at Merck Forest Over the years, Merck Forest and Farmland Center has offered sleigh and wagon rides through the farm and forest. This winter, we will once again be hosting sleigh rides. Keep your fingers crossed for snow; starting Saturday, December 21, the Sweetheart Sleigh will make its annual debut, and this two person sleigh will run weekends through March 2014. The group sleigh, a great option for families, will also run for three weeks. Schedule and info here

There is a tremendous amount of leg-work that goes into getting the sleigh rides ready. The sleighs need to be cleaned, tuned up, bolts tightened, and moved out of the Harwood Barn. Scheduling is coordinated at the Visitor Center.

The apprentices, Colene, and Tim have been working the draft horses in preparation for them to pull several sleigh rides a day over the next three months. Sadly, Merck Forest’s draft team, Ellie and Daisy, will not be working the sleighs much this year. Earlier in the summer Daisy was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, and she has been struggling to regain her strength since then. While Ellie could physically pull the sleighs herself, she is often uncomfortable working without Daisy near her…

In order for sleigh rides to run, the decision was made to enlist the help of a draft team from a neighboring farm.

After a bit of scouting, Tim found Mae and June, a draft team from True Love Holsteins Farm in North Rupert. They will be with Merck’s farm through the spring. The team of Belgians arrived nearly two weeks ago. The team is in good shape, though we’ve had to get them acclimated to the Merck hills (this is true of any one who comes to work at Merck, the steep hillsides are a good initiation!).

When you come up to visit this winter, to take a sleigh ride, or go skiing, stop by the farm and say hello to Mae and June, Ellie and Daisy, and the rest of the farm gang. If you are up in the next couple weeks, you’ll see the horses out on trial runs. There is nothing more lovely than seeing a pair of draft horses trotting through the snow, sleigh bells ringing.

New draft horses join the farm!
New draft horses join the farm!