Sweeny Amokfi The Dales

by James C. McCullagh

The Sweeny farm rests across a stream past a huddle of pubs and the newsstand in Brecon which points a hurried finger at the green and barren hills of Wales.

It is Sunday, when farmers never sleep but slow down their chores to take stock of tltt-ir work and the week to come.

I see the man Sweeny moving back and forth between barn and house like a windmill.

He motions, like a policeman, for us to come aboard.

We wslk up the snaking hill like the ones the children draw so well past the piles of steaming dung to the courtyard where the ghosts of horses play among the tools of th» fields graying yet hopeful of return to service.

In the pasture stands a mare very white against the earth that knows man Sweeny moves before she does.

"How old," he asks, "do you think she is?"

To be polite and safe I said, "Thirteen."

"Thirty," he said and cradled her with brown and freckled hands, feeling her still strong flanks which have carved the rocky hills for years.

"Horses," Sweeny said, "used to work these hills before we gave them to the sheep.

But horses are coming back.

I visit auctions up and down the coast buying equipment for my stable.

Horses are coming back."

On the way to the car Sweeny showed us a forge "from a local smith who died." Among the hundredweight of steel, the hammers and the tongs of silence, I see a new fist striking the shoe sending sparks across the dull Welsh earth igniting fields of harvest wheat plundered from between the reins.

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