Ben gets friendly with a Clydesdale.
Paramoor Farm Retreat.
Paramoor Farm Retreat.
Step back to the last century and take advantage of the Paramoor Farm Retreat, where you can see the working horses, walk around the property or just sit back and breathe in the fresh country air.
A few years ago Jill Lear bought her husband John a most unusual birthday gift a beautiful shaggy-legged Clydesdale.
They had moved to Carlsruhe from Melbourne in 1980 and lived in an old bluestone church. About 12 years ago they bought Paramoor, a 17.5-hectare property. They invested in three more Clydesdales, and John and the horses began working the land.
A back injury prevents John from sitting for long periods on a tractor, so the walking is good for him and the horses. It's also a very cost-effective way of running a small farm. The only tractor-drawn machinery used is for baling hay.
John makes the horses' harnesses with an old piece of equipment called a stitching horse, and he does the hand sewing as well. He has some blacksmith machinery and a bellows-operated forge and makes all the brackets for the horses. They have a collection of horse-drawn vehicles dating back to the 1800s, some of which are still in use.
To set the scene, John and Jill have their clothes made in the 1800s style at Sovereign Hill, so the whole Paramoor experience is like stepping back to the 19th century.
Three of the four horses are worked Barney is 18, Herb is 11, Maggie is four, and little Paddy, who is three, is getting the hang of his daily tasks. The family works together to a routine that is not exactly stressful: they walk to the barn at about 9am for breakfast, which takes about an hour. They are then harnessed up, ready for whatever work is in store for them that day.
They are used for nearly every facet of farming on the property they plough, sow the oats crop, roll the crop, pull the mower, haul logs and rake.
There are about 50 species of native birds on the farm, and if you walk around you will probably see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, foxes, rabbits or echidnas. Weather permitting, you can boat, swim or fish for yabbies in the dam, which is on the edge of a eucalypt forest.
At the end of the barn is a comfortable double-storey, self-contained cottage. The beams supporting the roof were dragged from the bush by John and his horses. The house is wood panelled and has two double bedrooms, two bathrooms and a combined kitchen/living area. There's a wood heater for cold nights and fresh provisions for breakfast.
Jill and John started with the Clydesdales from scratch, and their success has so captured the imagination of people, they now run introductory seminars teaching how to farm with heavy horses. Not only that, their pretty rural property has been used as a location for television and film.