Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mules in my family history.

Public works are in the news today: Obama Pledges Public Works on a Vast Scale. My dad was in the CCC, as a commisioned officer and company commander. He knew how to plow with mules and drive a wagon.

Mules have touched my family history several times.

In 1903, my grandmother Momma Kay became a 16-year-old single mother when a mule kicked her first husband Adolphus Cecil in the head. Three years later she married Harvey McKay and bore 12 children, of which my mother Addie was the oldest.

During the last great depression, Dad was living on a farm in Cajun country. He could rent his mule team out for more money than a man could earn... and fed his wife and three kids.

When I was a teen in the late 1940’s, my dad bought a depression-era project farm in Cajun country. We had a saddle horse and powerful plow mule, Sarah. We used her to snake discarded cross ties from the railrod right-of-way for recycling as fence posts. She seemed capable of pulling any weight, as long as she was pulling in the direction of the barn. We kids rode her bareback, very slowly. Dad rented her out for $5 a day to stretch telephone and telegraph wires. It was apparently faster than using a manual block and tackle.

My dad bought home a little donkey, a Mexican burro. We also had goats, pigs, a dairy cow, and 10 to 20 head of beef, along with chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, dogs and cats. 'Hey Burro' was a stoic and gentle creature, at least with children. But all the livestock... horses, the mule, even the huge Brangus bull accepted her as queen of the yard. At a feed bucket or trough, she would trot up and flick a hoof at the noses or near the eyes of the competition. They would blink and back up few yards to wait their turn.