Our New Team of Two Little Jennies
When we first moved to Grandpa's farm there was an old horse named Nuben. I never knew, but I suppose he was left over as the last horse of Uncle Everett's farming days. Daddy had him harnessed and pulling a sled while we picked corn. Corn does not produce well on dry land farms in Southwest Oklahoma. The ears turned out to be "nubens" as well. After that fall, Nuben wasn't there any more. I never thought to ask Daddy where he went or what happened to him.
But soon after, Daddy came home one day with a beautiful saddle horse. He was "Ringler Joe." Daddy rode him a lot. He rode him after the cows very often. Soon after Ringler came, we got Ole Silver I assume that Ringler went with the others in the auction.
We had the auction, because Daddy had surgery on his stomach ulcer. The Doctors told him to reduce his labor and work for two years. By the end of the first year, he was beginning to go again. The surgery was in August. The next May, Donnie was bitten by the rattle snake. It had rained and the fields were too muddy to drive in them. He drove down the road, climbed the fence and ran across the narrow field. She and the others were walking in the fenced cattle lane. Daddy picked her up from across the fence and retraced his steps carrying her back to the car. I was concerned about him running and lifting, but I understood it.
Sometime later in that year, he bought a pair of Jennies from Claude Wilson. We were so glad and enjoyed them for several years. They were Kit and Kate. Kate was more gentle. Kit loved to bite. Every time I harnessed her, she would watch for an opportunity to nip me on the arm or leg. And she wasn't above giving a kick.
They were good little donkeys. We got a lot of work from them. Some old man had left a set of wagon wheels and frame at Papa's place. It seemed to me, that it was there a long time. After we had the donkeys, Daddy ask about it. He gave it to us. Daddy reworked it all and cut it down to "donkey" size. He made a wagon bed with side boards and a seat for two or three up front.
I drove them after the cows almost every day after school. Some times we took the tractor. One time when I was hunting the cows with the Kit and Kate, I came up over a sand hill. As we started down the other side, a skunk ran out of a sage brush. He scared the donkeys and they started to run. Fortunately he didn't give us a spray job. That would have been a mess. But the Kit and Kate headed for a China Berry Tree. The trunk was 8 or 10 inches through. They were running full tilt, straight for the tree and I couldn't get them to turn to either side. Somehow the wooden wagon tongue had been broken, so Daddy put in one made of pipe. When that pipe hit the tree trunk, it glanced to one side and then the neck yoke holding up the front end of the tongue took the next blow. Each end of the neck yoke is fastened to the collar around each donkey's neck. Then the right end of the neck yoke came loose and that left us all at a stand still. I got down and backed Kate and Kit up. When they were far enough back, so their heads could bypass the tree, I hunted over the wagon and found a little bailing wire. With that, I could wire the neck yoke back to Kit's collar. Then we proceeded on our cow hunt, until we found them after a few more sand hills. The rest of the journey was uneventful.
One Sunday morning it was raining. In Oklahoma one never knew how wide spread a rain might be. The road by our house was far too muddy to drive the car, but a mile up the road it might be dry. When morning chores were done, Daddy said we could try to go to Church ... three and a half miles north and three quarters east. But because of the amount of the rain, he thought we ought to go in the wagon with the team. It was a fun ride. I don't remember about the other end of the road. But I think the roads were dry after about a mile. We continued on and arrived at the Church yard full of cars and pickups, feeling like we might have been pioneers from days long past.
While I was trying to recall details for the paragraph above, I discussed it with Donnie. She reminded me of another muddy Sunday. We had all gone to Church on a beautiful winter day. Thelma and Dillon invited me home with them for Dinner at noon. Claude and Clara Wilson with their children (all younger than me) had gone home with Mother and Daddy and my younger siblings. Late that afternoon it came one of those Noah's rains we sometimes got. We at Dillon's didn't go to Church that night. Mother and Daddy with the Wilson's all started to Church that evening. Donnie said they were more in the ditch than on the road. All the people who were able to push, were in the muddy road --- pushing! When they finally go there, Upton and Thelma Mitchell were the only ones. They just lived about a quarter mile away. The country Church had no bathrooms and no phones, -- no way to clean up. They had some kind of service or Bible study, then settled all the children down on pews for naps. Their plan was to sleep until the mud roads froze. So sometime after midnight, everybody woke up, got in their cars and went home.
North of our house about a mile there was a mud hole in the road when it rained. It was between two hills and very difficult to have the speed to go through without getting stuck. I was with Daddy once in the wagon behind Kit and Kate when we were pulling somebody out of that hole. He had tied a chain between their front axle and our back axle. He gave the donkeys the signal to pull. That car, stuck is that red clay was a heavy load. The donkeys pulled. Daddy urged them on and finally they got down on their front knees and pulled until that car came out of the mud!
One time we had planted our cotton seeds. A heavy rain came and packed the fresh plowed soil. When the sun came out, it baked the field so that the seeds couldn't push through. Daddy's idea worked. He drilled holes in the sweeps of an old horse drawn cultivator. In the holes he put through some bolts he had sharpened and screwed a nut on the underside. We hitched the donkeys to the cultivator and I got on the seat. Daddy adjusted the plough so the sharpened bolts scratched and broke through the dirt. So the seeds were able to sprout. The donkeys plodded up and down the rows. I sat on the seat and together we saved over a hundred acres of cotton seed.
Also, Daddy plowed the garden and moved dirt from place to place with Kit and Kate, pulling the slip until earth rolled over the back. As our younger brothers and sisters came along and cousins came to visit, we set everybody on the sled and had lots of fun while the donkeys pulled us up and down the roads and paths of the yards and fields.