Pa had been quite a "horse jockey" when he had the barn in town, buying, selling and trading horses. He had narrowed it down to two good teams the year we moved and he said he was going to quit horse trading.
One team was black and the other team was sorrel or chestnut. They were big, steady horses, two matched teams. The black team was a mother (Maude) and her son (Dexter) and in May of the spring we moved, the horses were in the yard (above the Legion Hall) when Maude got colic and died, just like that. That was the end of the nice, matched horses for a long time. [13.71-2]
He had to have a horse right away, and the only thing available that he could afford right then was the homeliest white horse imaginable -- one that was always skinny and rough looking, but a hard goer. (We eventually killed him and skinned him for hog feed, and then we found out why he was perpetually skinny and slobbered so much when he ate oats. He had lost an upper tooth and the lower one kept on growing longer, up into the opening, until it cut into his upper jawbone.) [13.71-3]
Pa had accumulated what he considered almost a full line of farm machinery while we still lived in town. At least he had enough that he didn't have to start buying it all right away. I got old enough to operate all the original machinery before he started to update it, a little at a time.
When he started to rent land, about the time I was born, from Knute Melby (Emma Melby's father), he used Knute's "Plano" grain binder the first year, but it was so worn out he bought his own, new binder the second year. It was a Deering, 6-foot, pulled by four horses.
Between 50 and 60 years later, when we were in the antique business, I found a Plano binder in "mint" condition at an auction sale. It had been bought new in 1901 and was like the one Pa discarded about the year I was born. It was 40 miles from home, up near Vergas. I got so fascinated with it that I bought it for $50. Beaver got a trailer and hauled it to Ashby but then I didn't know what to do with it. It is now "on loan" to the museum in Elbow Lake.
There is also a small "bob-sleigh" over there "on loan" from me. George Huggett, the local blacksmith, made it for his son Clifford about the time I was born. I bought that when Anna (Huggett) and Philip Lundberg had an auction sale.
Getting back to the machinery Pa had ... when we moved to the farm there was a Moline single-disk drill pulled by three horses, and an Emerson one-bottom, "sulky" plow pulled by three horses, the first plow I got to use. He also had a 2-bottom, 14-inch Moline "gang plow" pulled by four horses and an 8-foot Osborne disk pulled by four horses. Also a 3-section, wooden Boss harrow or "drag" for three horses and a similar 5-section drag pulled by four horses.
Some people bought 2-wheel carts and hooked to these so they could ride, but Pa always figured the horses had enough to pull up these hills anyway, so we walked behind in the dust. That was one of the main jobs I had and I welcomed the privilege to stay out of school for a day now and then, in the spring.
We cut the hay with a 5-foot Deering mower and raked it with an old, rusty 10-foot dump rake. We "dug" the fields with a 2-section, walk-behind, spring tooth digger with three or four horses.
The single row, two-horse, riding cultivator had six shovels and there was a hole in the "shank" on each shovel with a wooden peg through it, about 1/2-inch in diameter. When a shovel hit a rock, it broke the peg and you had to stop and put in another peg. That was a real pain in the neck. We usually spent the noon hour splitting and whittling wooden pegs, always trying to find really strong wood, like dry oak, to make them out of.
Our first manure spreader was an old wooden-wheeled "Success" spreader that Pa bought at an auction for only a few dollars. It worked pretty well if you hauled really small loads, but I was always tempted to put on a little more of our tough, straw-shed manure and I pitched off many loads by hand when the apron chains broke.
When the spreader was empty, you stuck a hand crank on a shaft and cranked the apron back to the front again. That was the only spreader we had for quite a few years. Most of the manure was hauled out early in the spring on a bob-sleigh and spread on the tops of the hills by hand.
One day Pa broke something on the machinery he was using in town and had a new part out at the farm. He left the four horses standing in the field behind the school, still hooked to the piece of machinery that had broken down, and went home with the car and got it. The horses didn't move an inch while he was gone. We had all our older horses broken well enough that we could do that anytime. Sometimes out at the farm we would leave them like that and walk up to the house for coffee. [13.73-4]
The Van Cleves had a horse and buggy, and the year before we went to school from out on the farm, two of the grown up Van Cleve boys drove it to town. Donald Van Cleve (one year older than me) was standing in the back of the buggy and lost his balance. He put one foot through the buggy wheel spokes when the horse was going pretty fast. He twisted his leg so badly they took it off above the knee, but in a year or so he was back at school, mostly hopping around on one leg, playing football and baseball and "rassling" with the other kids. He didn't get an artificial leg or anything, and didn't use crutches much, either. [13.80-4] (duplicate: also in 14 School)
When the VanCleves moved to Oregon, they wanted to sell their horse and buggy and cutter runners (to put on the buggy body in the winter) for $25. Pa was awfully broke then, just starting farming, with livestock to buy and all the new building, etc. [13.80-5]
Grandmother Miller was visiting us and I was trying to work Pa to buy the pony (Bird). One night, just before supper, she told me, "I'll give you the $25."
I ran all the way to Van Cleve's and rapped on the door. When George, the oldest son (his mother was a widow) came to the door, I said, "Do you want to sell Bird for $25?"
He said, "Yes," and I said, "I'll take her."
I was 9 years old, and that was my first horse (or pony) on the farm. [13.80-6]
Bird weighed about 1,100 pounds and was big enough to do some field work. She had always been half starved and was quite docile when we got her, but after she got some oats and decent horse food, she got foxier and foxier. She was completely safe for kids to be around as far as kicking, biting, or running away were concerned, and when we drove her in the field or on the road, hitched as a team with another horse, or when we rode her, she knew she was licked and didn't cut up at all. [13.81-1]
We drove Bird to school with the buggy sometimes, but she would always "shy" and jump around when we met a car. I suppose she knew we were only kids and didn't speak with authority. [13.81-2]
If we tried to make her stand still, even a minute to take the five-gallon cream can out at the creamery, or even just to get in or out of the buggy, she would keep twisting around, forward or back, and jackknife the buggy -- just anything to make herself aggravating. [13.81-3]
There was a lot of traffic on the new highway then, even big, high, white buses, and when we met anything like that, Bird would stop and throw herself from side to side while we hit her on the back end with a stick. Everybody we saw would look scared (for us), but we were never really scared ourselves.
One time we met one of those buses and she stopped and threw herself from side to side so bad that the bus driver stopped and led her by the bus. [13.81-4]
One day Pa rode along to see how bad she was, and after that he didn't dare let us drive her again. So he hooked the big, homely, gray work horse (Snyder) to the buggy and we drove him to school some. He clunked along pretty good, but he was so rawboned and homely we were ashamed to be seen with him, and we mostly settled down to walking to school. [13.81-5]