FARRIER AND FRIEND. Monica Hoff and her Australian shepherd, Rowdy, behind the wheel of Hoff’s shoeing rig. Rowdy accompanies Hoff on most shoeing days, waiting patiently in the truck cab while she works.
The sky is a steel grey and the bitter wind carries an icy edge when I meet farrier Monica Hoff in a Catholic church parking lot in the crossroads community of Mackville, a few miles north of Appleton in Wisconsin’s Fox River Valley.
“The only things in Mackville are the church and a strip joint,” Hoff had told me on the phone a few days earlier. “If you’re going to meet in Mackville, the church is the way to go.”
Hoff has scheduled a day of visiting backyard horses. There are more than a few of them in this part of “America’s Dairyland,” where it’s not unusual for dairy farmers to keep horses for family members to ride. The area also has large numbers of hobby farms, where professionals who work for the paper-making companies and other firms that drive the local economy have chosen to live.
8:45 a.m. Hoff lives in Green Bay, where the Fox River flows into the Lake Michigan bay that gave the city its name. She’s driven some 60 miles to the Appleton area, where she has a number of long-time clients. We’re running a bit late, so once I arrive, she gets her Dodge Dakota on the road and heads for the home of her first customer.
Riding along with Hoff…