Let me explain how to plow with a mule. To begin one needs a mule, preferably one that is broken and knows how to walk in a straight line. Next comes the harness. The harness is made up of a bridle, a collar, a back band and trace chains. These items work in this way. The bridle seems to steady the animal with the feeling that it is not loose in the pasture but instead in the hands of the farmer.
Next the collar fits around the neck of the animal and is connected to some trace chains which are attached to a single/double tree that is attached to the plow. A single tree is used when plowing with only one mule. A double tree is used when plowing with two animals with which to pull a heavier piece of plow or disk or whatever is needed to break up the ground to make it arable and loose. Next we have a back band to which is attached the trace chains running from the collar to the back band and then to the single or double tree. In order to steer the animal(s) plow lines (ropes) are attached to the bits of the bridle which are inserted into the animals mouth when the bridle is first put on. A “cluck” or a “get up” and a gentle pop of the plow lines will usually get the animal moving. A firm sounding “whoa” and a tightening of the plow lines will stop the animal.
Until one has had to plow with a mule every summer of life from the age of ten until age of 17 does one really appreciate the “good ole days” like no one else. There are lessons to be learned when there are hardships to endure. It is only when these hardships bear down like a relentless rain do the lessons really soak in.
I was born in a small rural settlement in Mississippi about twenty miles from the capitol city, Jackson. At the age of 1.5 my family moved to Bastrop, LA, a small town not far from Monroe, Louisiana. My family and I lived there for approximately six months, after which we moved back to Mississippi. We lived in Jackson for about one year and then moved to a small little farm outside of a town about one hundred fifty miles from New Orleans, LA and not too many miles from where we had lived in Jackson, MS. It was on this little farm that I learned much about life.
Moral of the Story: Make sure that you learn the lessons that life has to teach before you are too old to take advantage of the learning.