Start a Clover Delivery Business

If you live within reasonable driving distance of a horse racing track, you can make money delivering fresh clover to the stables.

| May/June 1972

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    You'll need to be up before the sun to deliver clover to race horses.

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It's 4 A.M. in the deserted stable area of a large thoroughbred race track. Except for the monotonous drone of night insects and the occasional trill of a waking bird, the area is silent. Then, almost imperceptibly a slowly moving car and trailer creep between the rows of horse stables. Shadowy figures move from the trailer to the stables with full bags slung otter their shoulders like summertime Santas.  

Despite the early hours, the men described above actually have an interesting and satisfying "down home" business going for them. They're delivering fresh-cut clover to the owners of race horses . . . and a like operation can net you $1,000-$3,000 for under 400 hours of summer work.

The "grass business"—as it was dubbed long ago -- was created in 1926 by my father-in-law, John Tienstra. Alone or in partnership with others, he ran such an operation each summer until 1965 . . . and every medium to large race track in the country can support at least one similar enterprise today.

The grass business is not for everybody. It entails ungodly hours, hard work, threats from bumblebees and lightning bolts . . . and little glory. Then again, if you like the idea of being your own boss while you work in rhythm with Mother Earth, the establishment of your own clover runs might be just what you're looking for. If there's a race track within a 50-mile radius of your home or homestead, you're sitting on a potential grass business . . . and that potential is growing every year. At one time, prestige racing (which means big money which means free-spending owners) was mostly limited to thoroughbreds. Now that the "big time" racing of standardbreds, Appaloosas, Arabians and quarter horses is becoming more popular, however, the demand for fresh-cut-and-delivered clover is showing a corresponding increase.

The basic mechanics of the grass business are much like those of a milk delivery route. Full bags of purple-topped clover are dropped off at the stables each morning and empty bags are picked up. Just as a good milkman makes his rounds in the cool morning hours, so too does a good grass man. Glover has a delicate nature and—once cut—tends to wilt and sour in warm summer temperatures.

How to Get Started

Your first step in setting up a grass route is easy: go to the main office of a race track or tracks, ask for a permit to deliver fresh feed and explain that you'll be making your rounds in the early morning. The track officials will give you a pass and sticker for your vehicle. There may be a slight charge for this permit but it'll be worth it , . , the documents will allow you to travel within the stable area unhampered by security personnel.

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