Thursday, August 18, 2011

Little Tidbits Learned . . .

I always enjoy learning what makes something/life tick in the area where I am. Here I am on an Island that has no motorized vehicles, except emergency or the forklift on the dock unloading freight.

I learned that the Hackney horses, that pull the special surreys or the Grand's surreys, work about one hour a day. Most of the time they are standing and are limited as to how many they will pull in a surrey. They will burn more calories in the one hour of work than one draft horse will in a day's shift. Being a much more high strung animal, it is easy to understand that.

The draft horses will work a 6 or 8 hour day. They will work no more than 4 hours at a time, then either have a one hour lunch break and come back for a couple more hours either that afternoon or perhaps in the evening. And of course, water is offered to them often. If they work an 8 hour day, then they are off for 24 hours. Sometimes they work a 4 hour shift, then off for 24 hours and then work maybe two 4 hour shifts.

Their feed was developed by an Island vet and they often get fed 3 times a day. They are bathed every day - before going to work and afterwards. Bathing includes brushing too. They do wear shoes that have a special plastic coating that is between the horseshoe and the pavement.

The dray wagon horses pretty much have the same schedule as the wagon pulling horses. They cannot pull more than 3000 pounds in a load and that includes the weight of the wagon and the driver. The further back the freight load is put on the wagon, the more it weighs and has to be taken into consideration on the weight limit.

On the average, 15,000 people visit the Island each day during the summer. There are around 350 full-time all year round residents. The Grand will have a staff during the winter months (usually around mid-October to early May) to do repairs, etc. During the winter, when the water between the Island and mainland is frozen, snowmobiles are used to get back and forth and are allowed on the Island. The rest of the year, full-timers use the ferries to get back and forth or perhaps their own boats. If one is of Catholic faith and an Island full-timer for a minimum of 10 years, then you can be buried in the Catholic cemetery on the Island.

Lots of weddings take place on the Island. Another wedding was scheduled an hour after Courtney's and a couple on Sunday at the Grand. The following weekend, there were 6 or 8 weddings scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Grand.

There are a number of bed and breakfast establishments if one wants to stay closer to the downtown or even away. The homes are privately owned, but not the land under them as the land is owned by the National Park Service. There are strict rules for keeping them and one we learned is that all plumbing must be drained before winter to prevent pipe ruptures. If you are living in the residence full-time, then a portion is exempt from winterizing.

One of the things I did note at the Grand, is that all the wait staff are non-Caucasian. I was told that this is a tradition and works out very well. There is no tipping allowed at the Grand and we were told that everyone is paid "very handsomely". Tipping is allowed at the other properties that the Grand operates. Everyone, and I mean everyone on staff, does such a grand job of making everyone feel special - even me from the Kansas plains.

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