I started plowing with a team when I was around ten years old. I believe it was about 1938. We had horses first and later Pop (Dad) purchased a team of mules. Molly was the name of the mare that we had first. Dad purchased her from a breeding ranch out west. Each ranch had distinctive brands and her mark was clearly visible. She had several colts; we kept one of them and used him to plow fields flanking her. Horses were very muscular and could be used for heavy work in the woods pulling logs and also did a fine job plowing. The mules weren't strong enough to pull logs. The horse's weakness was that you had to be careful on hot summer days because they would get hot easily.
It was a sad day when Molly died due to the heat. The whole family wept over her. We all get attached to our pets today; imagine the connection between horses that you spend hours in the field with who also provide your livelihood. It was heartbreaking.
Mom said buying those two mules was the best thing we ever did. I remember them like yesterday. Mike was black and Dan was white. I could ride Mike but Dan wouldn't allow it; I knew better than even try. Those mules would plow all day long, about eight hours. We only stopped long enough for lunch. They never got hot like horses and could last as long as we could walk behind them. They never got sick, they were tough. Mom was right.
Mike always walked in the furrow and did so perfectly straight. He didn't have to be guided. Working all day I could plow 3 acres. When tractors came out Pop sold the mules and purchased a Case tractor. We alternated taking turns on the tractor and plowed all day without much of a break. We could plow 12 acres compared to three with the mules. Four days work compressed into one.
I remember those days like yesterday. The thump of the horses hoofs against the sod. The noise a plow makes as it tears minute roots and lays over the dirt. Do you ever forget the smell of freshly turned earth? The steady clatter of leather strapping and metal connections against each other. I remember it all.
As told by a senior citizen,Ernest H. Beussink, 2011
Donald R. Beussink RT,N.,MBA