Percherons acquired for long haul

August 04, 1994|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Sun Staff Writer

On a hot summer's day, Baltimore County's latest equine acquisitions munched their way through a clover and alfalfa field in the peaceful Cromwell Valley, swishing their tails against a cloud of flies and looking curiously at a photographer searching for the perfect angle.

They are April, 7, and Lorell, 8, two purebred, 1,800-pound Percheron horses acquired to pull hay wagons full of passengers this fall through the county's new park.

"They're right in their prime," county naturalist Bob Stanhope said yesterday. "We were very fortunate to get them."

Percherons, bred as war horses in the Perch region of France during the Middle Ages, eventually became work horses on thousands of farms, valued for their strength and endurance.

They are also used with other draft horses in those commercials on television at Christmas.

Typically, Percherons are dappled gray or black. April and Lorell are black, but their coats shimmered brown in the sun yesterday.

"The sun bleaches their coats some," Mr. Stanhope said, "but their natural color is black."

The horses, from a farm in Smithburg, cost $4,000 apiece, plus $2,000 for a trailer and harness, a large sum in what is still a low-budget park operation.

The money came from donations and income generated by an open house in the spring. County Executive Roger B. Hayden wanted to get things moving in the park and supported their acquisition, Mr. Stanhope said.

The park is made up of the 102-acre Sherwood Farm and the 220-acre Satyr Hill Farm, which has been renamed Willow Grove Farm.

"Willow Grove was its name years ago," Mr. Stanhope said.

Imminent is the purchase by the state and county of about 45 acres of Good Fellowship Farm, immediately southwest of Sherwood. Good Fellowship would complete the land acquisition for Cromwell Valley Park.

The county is slowly opening Sherwood Farm to the public as planning for Willow Grove continues.

Two successful county-sponsored concerts have been held on Sherwood Farm, and 20 children are participating in a four-week nature day camp there. The county also has sponsored a deer watch, campfire sing-alongs and nature hikes, among other things.

A master plan team and a consultant will develop a complete plan for the park.

"We don't have the facilities, like bathrooms and parking, to open the park to casual visitors yet, but we will eventually," Mr. Stanhope said.

The 18-room Sherwood House has been repainted inside and out, and the floors have been refinished. The county plans to use it for meetings, weddings and receptions, but there's a problem: Except for a large table, some chairs and three paintings donated by former owner Arthur Sherwood, the house is unfurnished.

"We're working on it," Mr. Stanhope said.

The Glen Arm Garden Club has agreed to refurbish the courtyard garden, and the Halten Garden Club will re-create the herb garden. The Towson Women's Club has agreed to develop a wildflower garden next year.

Teen-agers from the federal Summer Youth Employment Training program have been painting fences and trimming bushes most of the summer.

Two more free concerts will be held this summer in front of Sherwood House: The Brass Works at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 and Bob Barrett and his big band at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30.

For information and tickets to these events, call 887-5372.

To get on a mailing list for events, call 887-1815.

To schedule events at Sherwood House, call 887-3804.

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