Friday, June 19, 2009

Part - 14i - Horses and Mules



For a long time, Daddy would round up the cows and drive them in to the Big Barn so as to check them over. He would ride "Pinto" or "Red", a Kentucky Saddle Horse (now called American Saddle horses.)

Daddy bought Red from Uncle Jim Granade, Mother Minnie's brother, as a young horse. Red was eleven days older than I was. Daddy tried to break him to plow, but he had too fast a gait to go slow enough to plow. During this time, Daddy "broke Red's wind," a condition that caused him to start panting for breath after just a short span of running. Once, Mr. Tom Whigham told me that if I would put some clay in a tub, then add water to it, stir it up real well and let him only drink that kind of water, it would give him longer wind. I thought that was kinda cruel, so I didn't try it. I did notice, or thought I did, when there had been heavy rains and the pond got muddy, Red would have slightly longer wind. Who knows!?!?

Once caught and bridled, Red would stay right where you left him and you could walk right up to him without a flinch. But, if he was turned loose in the pasture, he was VERY HARD to catch. I remember one Sunday, Daddy had chased him all over the pasture, got hot (mostly under the collar), had sicked Ring, our Bulldog, on him, and tried to catch him in every way he could think of. When Mother went in the house, got a tin plate with a couple of spoons of sugar on it, and walked to the fence and starting talking "baby talk" to him saying, "Come on 'den, come get some sugar," he would walk right up to her. So, lots of times when we wanted to ride Red and he was out to pasture, we'd call Mother to catch him for us.

Mother rode Red quite a bit. I think she tried to ride Pinto once and got scared of him. She would ride Red to visit Mrs. Mable Stokley, Aunt Ella Wood, Miss Eva Whigham, Miss Daisy and Mrs. Becky Grimes, etc.

In the summertime when the cows wouldn't come up for milking, Joe or I would hem Red up and catch him in the pasture, hold his mane and lead him to a fence or stump, get on him with no bridle or saddle, kinda slap him on the side of his neck to turn him, then drive the cows to the barn for milking. He'd wait just outside the lot gate for us to get him a couple of ears of corn as a reward for the ride.

Red and I went many, many miles together. In fact, I used to go see a girlfriend on him. There were 11 gates of wire gaps to go through in route. Sometimes you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face due to total darkness. When I’d get to a gate he’d stop. I’d feel around, get the gate open, let him walk thru, close the gate and get back on and going again.

One night, there was some moonlight, as I was headed just a little way past a gate, I saw something run right in front of Red. I kicked him in the side to get him running. The thing I saw darted off the roadway and I got one slight smell of the skunk! I’d heard that they had to stop to spray and it did prove it that night!

At the age of 21, I’d noticed that Red was kinda walking stiffly. Then one morning I went out to the lot and found him dead. I borrowed James Robert Whigham’s tractor to drag him off. A couple of years later, I found his skull and used it as a Halloween d├ęcor along with a mule’s skull.

We had mules to do all the plowing, hauling corn, wood, etc. with the wagon, turn the cane mill, hay bailer, etc.

Not all mules would work to the hay bailer as they had to step over a wooden beam about 10 inches square and at about the same time, the mechanism would snap to make the grass pack into the bale being made.

We had black mules named Jim (Daddy made 21 crops with him), John and Jack, a red mule named Nell and a Grey mule named John. We only had three at a time.

I guess I remember Jim, Nell and Grey John more than the others. Nell was always "seal fat", with almost a perfectly round belly. We'd ride her with the old army saddle quite a bit. Once, Fred was riding Red and I on Nell. When we got to the bridge crossing the branch by the pond, Red's hooves struck the bridge; Nell jumped sideways a couple of feet and stopped immediately. When this happened, the army saddle and I slipped all the way under her belly. She never moved until I got off and replaced the saddle on her back. I thought Fred would fall off Red, as he was laughing so hard.

Nell was so gentle that you could walk right up to her anywhere. Lots of times Joe would catch her, lead her to a terrace, tell her "Whoa." back off and run and jump on her back. Then he'd ride her to get the cows in for milking.

As best as I can remember, all the mules and horses that we had died here on the place except Pinto. Daddy sold pinto to a Mr. Smith.

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