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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Livery and Feed
Livery and Feed

Although wives and mothers regarded the livery stable as a den of iniquity, second only to the pool room, it was a comparatively harmless haven of escape for the male. There men could be men and a boy could get a liberal education.

Livery & Feed

by Seth Thompson
reprinted from The Farm, Summer 1948

I grew up right across the street from a livery stable and I remember it with nostalgia and affection. My parents’ hotel, the Union, faced Mr. Oscar Hudgins’ livery stable on Main Street. Each building had a long passageway running from front to rear, and we and our guests were acutely conscious of the establishment across the street. Once Mr. Oscar Hudgins was sitting on our big front porch when a city-bred cousin of mine remarked that she didn’t imagine our traveling men enjoyed the smell of horses very much. Mr. Hudgins replied, without rancor, that perhaps horses didn’t like the smell of traveling men either.

A livery stable, for the benefit of those who never heard of one, was an establishment which catered to horses. It boarded them, doctored them, and bred them, whenever any of these services were required. It also furnished “rigs” — a horse and buggy or perhaps a team, for anyone who wished to ride, rather than walk, about the town or countryside. This arrangement was about the same as the “U-Drive-It” system for automobiles nowadays. It was a popular service for traveling men who came into town on the railway train and wanted to call on customers in cross-road communities. Young swains who couldn’t afford a rig themselves rented them to take their best girls for a spin in the country. Father used to hire a “surrey” or carriage, with fringe on top and two shiny black leather seats, and take us all on a picnic or to call on relatives. He always brought his own buggy whip, a resplendent article of whalebone with gilt stripes and a mother-of-pearl handle. When he placed it in the whip socket it meant we were officially ready to start.

The Hudgins’ livery stable was conveniently located for our traveling men and other transients. I don’t know whether Mr. Hudgins erected his place of business across the street from our hotel or whether we erected our hotel across the street from the livery stable. The egg- or-chicken argument between Mr. Hudgins and my father was never settled, but each establishment was a perfect adjunct to the other.

As was so often the case with people in small towns in that beautiful age, Mr. Hudgins had several side-lines. Besides being the only veterinarian for miles around, he owned and drove the only hearse in town. He also had three deluxe equipages commonly known as hacks. These were low-hung carriages with doors and plate glass windows which could be raised or lowered. The driver rode on an elevated seat behind the horses. They were used mostly for funerals and weddings.

Livery and Feed

The stables in the big cities turned out deluxe outfits for funerals, parades and weddings. Matched teams came high and the top hats cost extra too, but the bride’s father could hire the seven rigs for less than $50 for an afternoon.

The hearse, however, was the show piece of the stable. It was a marvelous equipage indeed. Mr. Hudgins “ordered off” and had it made in St. Louis. It had a high seat in front, from which Mr. Hudgins managed the pair of white Percherons, Dot and Dolly, which might easily have been circus horses of the type which Mr. Poodles Hanneford and his illustrious family have made famous. The hearse actually looked more like a circus wagon than a bearer of the dead. When Mr. Hudgins drove it, he wore a top hat which he had bought from a vaudeville supply house. He was a big, red-faced man with a goodly growth of mustache under his big, red nose. Sitting in a commanding position on the hearse, which was painted a bright gray, he made a funeral procession something of a parade. To add to the illusion, there were golden tassels inside the hearse, and carved cherubs at each corner. For funerals Mr. Hudgins bedecked the Percherons with harness which he had made especially for him. This special set of harness was decorated with brass “spots,” red-white-and blue rosettes, and tall rust colored pom-poms between the horses’ ears.

Since my father, in addition to his duties as host at the Union Hotel, was the local undertaker, the location of the livery stable across the street was very convenient. Father owned no funeral vehicles and that end of burials was given over to Mr. Hudgins for a slight commission. He was often called to other communities and made quite a nice thing out of his decorative hearse and his hacks.

Lonzo Brizzalara, a local boy who joined the circus and worked his way up to general manager of the biggest show on the road, tried to hire Mr. Hudgins to be his horse-boss but Mr. Hudgins said he wouldn’t work for anybody but himself. He enjoyed the sense of power and importance which his seat on the hearse gave him and he always carried himself with becoming dignity. He preserved this dignity even under trying circumstances. Once, one of Mr. Hudgins’ hens made a nest on the cushion of the driver’s seat, and having failed to hatch her brood by the time the next funeral came up, rode all the way to the church, to the cemetery, and back to town beside Mr. Hudgins. Not an egg was broken.

When a new traveling man alighted from the train at the S.W.&W. Station on the outskirts of town, he had no trouble locating Mr. Hudgins’ place of business. It had its own aroma, as unmistakable an identification as the painted sign over the doorway, and far more effective at a distance. It was a blend of manure, harness oil, old and new leather, Sloan’s liniment, and hay in all stages of ripeness; occasionally there was an overtone of wagon paint and pine shavings, which were sometimes used for bedding instead of straw.

On summer evenings when Mr. Hudgins sat out in front in a chair brought from the office, the unforgettable odor of his amazing pipe dominated all other smells. This pipe was well-known in the neighborhood, and feared and respected. Once when my little sister had an ear-ache, mother called over Mr. Hudgins who blew smoke into her ailing ear. This produced an immediate cure, and the patient started sucking her thumb and soon fell asleep.

Besides the regular help, there was always a number of loafers hanging around the stable. It was a favorite haunt of small boys, but was forbidden ground for most of them. Mothers warned their sons to give its doors a wide berth and it was generally believed that a livery stable was second only to the pool room as a sink of iniquity. Traveling men usually gave their stories a rehearsal there before starting out on their routes and it was from the livery stable that they spread all over town by the usual grape-vine. Sports and fast young men liked its informal atmosphere.

A room in front of the building was partitioned off as an office. It was furnished with a littered desk, a pot-bellied stove, a cuspidor, and a half-dozen wooden chairs. During the slack season in winter, the hostler slept in one of the chairs during the day. Tramps usually made the livery stable their first port of call when looking for a free bed. If they could convince Mr. Hudgins that they wouldn’t smoke or make off with one of the horses, they were allowed to sleep in the haymow or on the bales in an empty stall. Some of the more respectable gentlemen of the town, it was said, bedded down there when they knew it was dangerous to go home. Mr. Hudgins had two old army blankets which he gave to his more prominent guests.

One of the important functions of a livery stable was to serve as a headquarters for horse breeding in the community. In this, Mr. Hudgins took an active interest. He rented box stalls to owners of stallions who “stood” their animals there during the breeding season. He himself owned two jacks. Jacks are curious beasts, given to whine and vagaries. Experienced jack keepers can spend hours telling of their idiosyncracies. For example, one will develop a dislike for running water and will neither drink it or cross it. Another will refuse to have anything to do with still water. Some develop claustrophobia and won’t enter a stall that has no windows. Unlike his highly bred cousin, the racehorse, a jackass cares nothing for mascots, like bantam roosters, goats, or Shetland ponies. He lives alone and he seems to like it.

Jackasses bray when the notion strikes them. They all have this in common. Now, Mr. Hudgins’ barn was made of tin, or sheet iron. There is no sound which is quite as startling as that of a jack braying in a tin barn. This is especially true when the barn is strongly-built, and on a good foundation. A good barn gives good resonance, like a good horn. If the barn is full of cracks it will leak compression and won’t carry the sound very far. There is danger, too, of the jack blowing his own house down.

Mr. Hudgins’ two jacks were known as Little Windy and Prince Albert. The latter was named after a highly-respected smoking tobacco. Little Windy came by his name because he was believed to be the windiest jackass in the state. Prince Albert was a tall, baggy- kneed Black Mammoth jack; he had a barrel chest, and was an uncommonly stout brayer. But Little Windy, a gray animal of Spanish descent and not nearly as large, had it all over Prince Albert. Besides unbelievable volume, he had an engaging huskiness in his bray which gave it quality as well as power. When he brayed, he shut his eyes, dug his feet into the earth so he would not be carried away with his own wind, stretched out his neck and put every ounce of his body behind his effort.

Besides their sporadic brayings, which occurred whenever they felt like it, Prince Albert and Little Windy were on a pretty rigid schedule. They were self-appointed town clocks, and kept the town strictly on its toes. My home town had several business establishments besides the Union Hotel and the livery stable. There were besides the stores, two lumber mills, three grain mills, and an ice plant. It was customary for the planing mill to blow its whistle at five in the morning to let the mill hands know they had an hour to get up, eat their fat back and eggs, and get on the job by six. There was also a noon whistle and one at six in the evening. The planer, being the senior business, would start its whistle first. Then the heading mill, the ice plant, and the three grain mills would follow suit — respectfully, of course. When all the whistles were blowing it made a “right rousin racket,” as Mrs. Hudgins used to say.

Livery and Feed

When the young sprout ran out on the chores his mother knew pretty well where to find him. The masculine smell of horses, harness and manure, the drummer’s yarns, and the tall tales of the town character were fascinating to a growing boy.

Aside from these scheduled tootlings, it was the custom for the ice plant to serve as a fire alarm. The ice plant had to keep a man on duty all night, and when a fire alarm was phoned into the girl in the telephone office, she would call the ice plant. The fire signal was a series of long, low blasts, a mournful and ominous sound that never failed to rouse the bucket brigade as well as everyone else in town.

There was also the curfew, which the ice plant sounded at nine every night. It meant that all minors, unless with their elders, had to start for home forthwith, or be accosted by Rainey Sleight, the town marshal.

Each and every time a whistle blew, Prince Albert and Little Windy would join in with wild and complete abandon. What with six steam whistles and two jackasses going full tilt, my home town really announced itself on these special occasions.

It is well known that animals have a more precise feeling for time than humans have, and this was demonstrated when the new night man at the ice plant forgot to blow the five o’clock whistle in the morning. His embarrassment was tremendous when he heard the two jacks, nearly a mile away, start reminding him in brassy notes that he had forgotten his duties.

Prince Albert and Little Windy have long since been hauled off to some forgotten glue factory, leaving behind them a multitude of hard-working but sexless offspring.

After their demise Mr. Hudgins decided that mule breeding was falling off so much that he wouldn’t replace them. A few years later his livery stable followed the jacks into oblivion. He sold it to a young fellow who wanted to start a repair shop for a new contraption called an automobile.

Spotlight On: Livestock

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 1

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 1

by:
from issue:

For the last ten years, I have made hay mostly with a single horse. This has not necessarily been out of choice, as at one time I had hoped to be farming on a larger scale with more horses. Anyway, it does little good to dwell on ‘what if ’. The reality is that I am able to make hay, and through making and modifying machinery, I probably have a better understanding of hay making and the mechanics of draught.

The Big Hitch

The Big Hitch

In 1925 Slim Moorehouse drove a hitch of 36 Percheron Horses pulling 10 grain wagons loaded with 1477 bushesl of wheat through the Calgary Stampede Parade. It is out intention to honor a man who was a great horseman and a world record holder. The hitch, horses and wagons, was 350 feet in length and he was the only driver.

Haying With Horses

Haying With Horses

If the reader is considering the construction of a barn we encourage you to give more than passing thought to allowing the structure of the gable to be open enough to accommodate the hanging of a trolley track. It is difficult or impossible to retrofit a truss-built barn, which may have many supports crisscrossing the inside gable, to receive hay jags. At least allowing for the option in a new construction design will leave the option for loose hay systems in the future.

Horseshoeing Part 4A

Horseshoeing Part 4A

According to the size of the horse and his hoofs the nails should be driven from five-eighths to an inch and five-eighths high, and as even as possible. As soon as a nail is driven its point should be immediately bent down towards the shoe in order to prevent injuries. The heads of all the nails should then be gone over with a hammer and driven down solidly into the nail-holes, the hoof being meanwhile supported in the left hand.

Chicken

The Best Chicken Pie Ever

by:
from issue:

She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

Ayrshire Ambassadors Cooperative

Ayrshire Ambassadors Cooperative

The Ayrshire Ambassadors Cooperative was founded in 2016 by a group of dairymen who want to be outspoken advocates of the Ayrshire breed. Ayrshires are one of the most cost-effective breeds for dairy farmers, as the breed is known for efficiently producing large quantities of high-quality milk, primarily on a forage diet. These vigorous and hardy cows can be found grazing in the sun, rain, and cold while other breeds often seek shelter.

Raising Free Range Turkeys is a Joy!

Raising Free Range Turkeys is a Joy!

by:
from issue:

“Don’t let them out in the rain, they’ll stare up into it and drown…” Our experience with turkeys has been completely the opposite. While most poultry species aren’t exactly bright, we find that turkeys are lovely, personable, and most important for the self sufficient homesteader — extremely efficient converters of grain and forage into delicious meat. In 5 months, a turkey can grow from a few ounces to 20-30+ lbs.

Changing of Seasons

LittleField Notes: Changing of Seasons

by:
from issue:

We are blessed who are active participants in the life of soil and weather, crops and critters, living a life grounded in seasonal change. This talk of human connection to land and season is not just the rambling romantic musing of an agrarian ideologue. It is rather the result of participating in the deeply vital vocation that is farming and knowing its fruits first hand.

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Besides good, tough iron for the shoe, we need an anvil with a round horn and a small hole at one end, a round-headed turning-hammer, a round sledge, a stamping hammer, a pritchel of good steel, and, if a fullered shoe is to be made, a round fuller. Bodily activity and, above all else, a good eye for measurement are not only desirable, but necessary. A shoe should be made thoughtfully, but yet quickly enough to make the most of the heat.

The Mule Part 1

The Mule – Part 1

by:
from issue:

There is no more useful or willing animal than the Mule. And perhaps there is no other animal so much abused, or so little cared for. Popular opinion of his nature has not been favorable; and he has had to plod and work through life against the prejudices of the ignorant. Still, he has been the great friend of man, in war and in peace serving him well and faithfully. If he could tell man what he most needed it would be kind treatment.

Ask A Teamster Horse Don't Won't Can't Turn

Ask A Teamster: Horse Don’t, Won’t, Can’t Turn

After moving the drop ring on the other side down we went out to the round pen for a test drive. The difference in how she ground drove and turned was amazing – not perfect, but real sweet. With the lines at that level a right turn cue on the line obviously meant go right to her, and a left turn cue meant left. After we drove around for a while with me smiling I couldn’t resist moving the drop rings back up to the line rings – Bam, back to the old confusion.

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

by: ,
from issue:

“Farm to Fork” food programs are a revival of the past. Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Company is now involved in developing “Old School” free raised Irish Dexter rose veal. We are trying to replicate ranching as it was 100 years ago. This is not a fast paced business venture; it does allow us to best use our ranch to provide old style food for those who are seeking food that has a history of quality.

Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

Feeding Elk: Winter Work for the Belgians

by:
from issue:

Doug Strike of rural Sublette County is spending his second winter feeding wild elk in nearby Bondurant, Wyoming. Strike is supplementing his logging income as well as helping his team of Belgian draft horses to keep in shape for the coming season. From May to the end of November he uses his horses to skid logs out of the mountains of western Wyoming. I found the use of Doug’s beautiful Belgian team an exciting example of appropriate technology.

Livestock and Predators No Easy Answers

Livestock and Predators: No Easy Answers

by:
from issue:

Since we’ve raised sheep commercially, we’ve been committed to trying to live with the predators in our environment. Over the years, we’ve lost just a handful of sheep — several to coyotes, at least one each to mountain lions and rattlesnakes, and four in one night to a neighbor’s dog. Mostly, though, our commitment to nonlethal predator protection tools has worked. A combination of electric fencing, livestock guardian dogs, sheep selection and grazing management has allowed us to co-exist with the predators in our environment.

Developing Draft Colts

Developing Draft Colts

During October, 1910, The Pennsylvania State College and Experiment Station purchased a group of ten grade Belgian and Percheron colts and one pure bred Percheron for use in live stock judging classes. An accurate record of the initial cost, feeds consumed and changes in form has been kept in order that some definite information as to the cost of developing draft colts from weaning to maturity might be available for farmers, investigators and students.

The Cutting Edge

The Cutting Edge

by:
from issue:

In the morning we awoke to a three quarters of a mile long swath of old growth mixed conifer and aspen trees, uprooted and strewn everywhere we looked. We hadn’t moved here to become loggers, but it looked like God had other plans! We had chosen to become caretakers of this beautiful place because of the peace and quiet, the clean air, the myriad of birds and wildlife! Thus, we were presented with a challenge: how to clean up this blowdown in a clean, sustainable way.

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

by:
from issue:

At the same time that U.S. commercial beekeeping is circling down in a death spiral, hobby beekeeping is booming and almost every beekeeping club in the country has at least twice as many members as it did twenty years ago. What this means is that if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with relatively clean and varied sources of pollen and nectar, the potential for a successful family-sized commercial apiary is better now than it has been for many decades.

Praise for Small Oxen

Praise for Small Oxen

by:
from issue:

Every day in the winter, and a fair number of days in the summer, I choose to work with a team of Dexter oxen, just about the smallest breed of cattle in North America. Harv and Mr. Whistling Sweets are three years old, were named on a half-forgotten whim by my young children, and stand 38” tall at the shoulder. Sometimes, perched on top of a load of hay, moving feed for my herd of thirty cows, I look and feel comical — a drover of Dachshunds.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT