Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thing A Day Challenge: Day Whatever

Well, at the risk of not looking committed, I wasn't to commited to the challenge. Why? Well, I practially DO make something everyday regardless for challenges! Yesterday I painted the kitchen and put it back together as the remodel was finally done.The evening I was beat, so didn't hit the bench. Today I'm heading out, but first what I did during the daylight hours.

Muleskinning. No, that does't mean removing the flesh from a mule, it means driving a team. I personally did not get much muleskinning done (I made a few furrows), but watched the other drivers as they worked the competition.

Now I shadowed the mulers. They love their animals and can extol the virtues of mules all day, but there where plenty of horses, too. Smaller draft breeds, mustangs, belgians, clydesdales....all of them have their virtues and drawbacks. The big drafts are very calm and even tempered and have no problem pulling weight, but they are so big they will overheat and take lots of feed. Mules and smaller horses/ponies dont pull as much weight as the big drafts, but dont take as much to feed and dont get over heated as fast. Horses will overwork themselves and die, or get over heated and drink themselves sick. Mules will stop when they get overworked and wont drink until their temp comes down and its safe to drink. When a horse is done for the day, you may still be able to get it to work...but with a mule if it decides it doesnt want to work anymore---you're just going to have to try again tommorrow!

A team a mules.

I dont remeber the breed of these drafts-clydesdales? This fellow won an award in the novice division.

A young lady driving keiger mustangs

Mules reaching the end of the line.

The driver has to throw the plow on the side as he turns the team.

Circling around with a team of horses.

A pair of beauties.

This team had only plowed four times before the competition, but the driver has done a good job teaching these two how to pull.

Heres an interesting thing about mules: apperently in the civil war mules had bells cut on their tails to symbolize where they should go on a driving team. Supposedly the mules that where even tempered and made good leaders had three bells, two for the middle, ect. a mule with no hair on the tail was likely ta kick ya! Not only could soldiers figure it out easily, if they had to hook up the mules in the dark, they could just feel the tail and know where they belonged! Today they symbolize packing, pulling, and riding. Karola on the right has been ridden once, so she has yet to earn her third bell. Breezy (who is a grand old 26 and still pulling!) can do it all.

It really is amazing how easy plowing with a team is-at leas in land without rocks and tree roots to cut through! I brought a friend and he was startled by the ease. As you can see, though, people of all ages, shapes and sizes where able to compete. If you want to see it in action there are farming festivals in the spring and summer. In Oregon, the next chance to see it in action is at Founders Day Draft Horse Plowing Competition at Champoeg State Park May 7th and 8th.  I'll be there! Hope you are too.


  1. This is a half-ass post. I like it.

  2.'re driving me mad!

  3. Wow - I didn't know any of this (city kid here). Very interesting.

  4. This is so cool! We have lots of mules and plow horses here in TN. There is even a mule train about twice a year that travels quite a distance!

  5. wow, those things are huge! Love the tails. You could do some earrings modeled after those tails!