MORRISTOWN, NJ - It’s been a reciprocal labor of love for Calvin and Hobbes and their many Morris County fans for the past 16 years. The duo worked the fields, hauled ice and logs, and pulled many a wagon filled with adoring Morris County children and families at the Morris County Park Commission’s Fosterfields Living Historical Farm.
There is no doubt that during their time at Fosterfields, they have been valuable county “employees.’’
Now, Calvin and Hobbes are looking forward to imminent retirement. But unlike most Morris County government retirees, they are looking to spend their elder years in the fields, munching on hay, rolling in the grass, and snacking on wild apples or berries.
These two 25-year-old iconic Belgian draft horses have been at Fosterfields since 1999.
That’s when they were brought from a farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and landed at the county park in Morris Township, and have since delighted thousands of visitors.
“Fosterfields' visitors over the years have been able to witness the majesty of Calvin and Hobbes, to watch these majestic creatures at work,’’ said veteran Park Commission Member Julie Baron.
“Now, it’s time for us to send them off to a much deserved rest.’’
To help finance their retirement, the Friends of Fosterfields and Cooper Mill plan a silent art auction to benefit the beloved draft horses on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Frelinghuysen Mansion at the Park Commission’s Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township.
The proceeds also will be used to help finance the purchase of a new draft team of horses at Fosterfields, which was the first designated living history farm in New Jersey, and is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
Although Calvin and Hobbes are not actual "brothers," they have been together in a working partnership for many years. Powerful, yet docile, the draft horse team has been a familiar sight at Fosterfields through the seasons hitched to various farm implements in concert with the farmers.
They each weigh between 1,700 and 1,800 lbs. and stand 16 to 17 hands high.
Gently worked, they are the essence of the living historical farm when artfully demonstrating plowing, harvesting, haying, and hauling ice or logs. Calvin and Hobbes have also treated both young and old to memorable horse-drawn wagon rides around the farm.
“The Morris County Park Commission is presently making future plans for Calvin and Hobbes to enjoy a respectful retirement at a secure and caring facility that ensures their continued well-being,’’ said event spokesperson Pat Goodfriend of the Friends of Fosterfields and Cooper Mill.
The Silent Art Auction to raise money for their retirement will offer the public its first opportunity to tour the Frelinghuysen Mansion, while bidding on works of art displayed by more than 20 renowned, and internationally known, artists and photographers.
Docent-led tours of the mansion, hors d’oeuvres and wine, and distinctive musical entertainment by harpist, Laurel Grube, are included in the price of admission.
Artists participating in the auction include Medy Bozkurtian, Dan Campanelli, Jason Chang, Christina DeBarry, Elaine Erny, Gaile Hibbs, Jenny Lee R. Luzatto, Ken Marcell, Maceo Mitchell, Shahbudin Mohd, Andrea Placer, Elissa Prystauk, and Patricia Wynne.
Participating photographers are Ralph Iacobelli, John Parsekian, William Prystauk, Karel Raska, and Caryn Seifer.
The historical and cultural significance of the Frelinghuysen Mansion will be shared by docents stationed throughout the mansion and the Rose Garden. Whippany Farm was home to George Griswold Frelinghuysen and his wife Sara Ballantine Frelinghuysen, who built their Colonial Revival-style summer home, and a carriage house, there in 1891.
The surrounding property was designed and landscaped in the style of an English country estate. It was bequeathed to the Morris County Park Commission in 1969 by their daughter Matilda E. Frelinghuysen, whose intentions were for the development of a public arboretum.
The donation to attend the Silent Art Auction is $20 for an advance ticket, or $25 at- the-door on the day of the event.