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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 PST

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: Equipment & Facilities

LittleField Notes Mower Notes

LittleField Notes: Mower Notes

by:
from issue:

The horse drawn mowing machine is a marvel of engineering. Imagine a pair of horses turning the energy of their walking into a reciprocal cutting motion able to drop acres of forage at a time without ever burning a drop of fossil fuel. And then consider that the forage being cut will fuel the horses that will in turn cut next year’s crop. What a beautiful concept! Since I’ve been mowing some everyday I’ve had lots of time to think about the workings of these marvelous machines.

Shed and Barn Plans

Below is a short piece from Starting Your Farm, by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller. Click the links below to see Chapter One of Starting Your Farm and to view the book in our online bookstore. “You may have purchased a farm with a fantastic set of old barns and sheds. You, on […]

Fjordworks Cultural Evolution Part 1

Fjordworks: Cultural Evolution Part 1

For the teamster who first and foremost just plain loves driving horses, hitching the team to a fully restored and well-oiled cultivator is a wonderful way to spend time with horses. For those intrigued by the intricacies of machines and systems, the riding cultivator offers endless opportunities for tweaking and innovation. And for those interested in herbicide free, ecologically produced vegetable and field crops, the riding cultivator is a practical and precise tool for successful cultivation.

McCormick-Deering Ensilage Cutter No 12B

McCormick-Deering Ensilage Cutter No. 12B

from issue:

IMPORTANT TO McCORMICK DEERING OWNERS: This pamphlet has been prepared and is furnished for the purpose of giving the user as much information as possible pertaining to the care and operation of this machine. The owner is urged to read and study this instruction pamphlet and if ordinary care is exercised, he will be assured of satisfactory service.

The Brabants Farm

The Brabants’ Farm

by:
from issue:

The Brabants’ Farm is a multi purpose farming operation whose main goal is to promote “horsefarming.” Our philosophy is to support the transformation of regional conventional agriculture and forestry into a sustainable, socially responsible, and less petroleum dependent based agriculture, by utilizing animal drawn technology (“horsefarming”), and by meeting key challenges in 21st century small scale agriculture and forestry in Colombia and throughout South America.

Wheel Hoe

The Wheel Hoe: A Tool For Shallow Tillage

When we bought this little farm I soon realized I needed a wheel hoe. The size of the horse and tractor dictated space wasting wide rows in crop production and, to some degree, so does my two wheeled tractor.

Multi-Purpose Tool Carrier Equi Idea Multi-V

Multi-Purpose Tool Carrier: EQUI IDEA Multi-V

Building on the experiences with a tool carrier named Multi, consisting of a reversible plow interchangeable with a 5-tine cultivator, the Italian horse drawn equipment manufacturer EQUI IDEA launched in 2012 a new multi-purpose tool carrier named Multi-V. The “V” in its name refers to the first field of use, organic vineyards of Northern Italy. Later on, by designing more tools, other applications were successfully added, such as vegetable gardens and tree nurseries.

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.

Geiss New-Made Hay Loader

Gies’ New-Made Hayloader

by:
from issue:

I was sitting on a 5 gallon bucket staring at the hayloader. I had a significant amount of time and money invested. My wife, the great motivating influence in my life, walked up and asked what I was thinking. I was thinking about dropping the whole project and I told her so. She told me that it had better work since I had spent so much money and time on it already. She doesn’t talk that way very often so I figured I had better come up with a solution.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

by:
from issue:

From reading the Small Farmers Journal, I knew that some people are equally happy with either model, but because McCormick Deering had gone to the trouble of developing the No. 9, it suggests they could see that there were improvements to be made on the No. 7. Even if the improvement was small, with a single horse any improvement was likely to increase my chance of success.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

by:
from issue:

As we start, consider a few things when building a pto cart. Are big drive tires necessary? Is a lot of weight needed? Imagine the cart in use. Try to see it working where you normally go and where you almost never go. Will it be safe and easy to mount or dismount? Can you access the controls of the implement conveniently? Is it easy to hook and unhook? Where is the balance point? I’m sure you will think of other details as you daydream about it.

The Milk and Human Kindness Stanchion Floor

The Milk and Human Kindness: Plans for an Old Style Wooden Stanchion Floor

by:
from issue:

The basic needs that we are addressing here are as follows: To create a sunny, airy (not drafty), dry, convenient, accessible place to bring in our cow or cows, with or without calves, to be comfortably and easily secured for milking and other purposes such as vet checks, AI breeding, etc. where both you and your cow feel secure and content. A place that is functional, clean, warm and inviting in every way.

Cole One Horse Planters

Cole One Horse Planters

by:
from issue:

The most populous single horse planting tools were made by Planet Junior. But they were by no means the only company producing these small farm gems. Most manufacturers included a few models and some, like Planet Junior, American and Cole specialized in the implement. What follows are fourteen different models from Cole’s, circa 1910, catalog. We published ten of these in volume 30 number three of Small Farmer’s Journal.

Permanent Corncribs

A short piece on the construction of corncribs.

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.

Homemade Cheese Press

Homemade Cheese Press

by:
from issue:

On the Gies farmstead we occasionally wallow in goat milk. From it we make our own butter, yogurt and cheese as well as drink some. This has prompted me to build a little cheese press to help with the extra milk. The press is made from inexpensive 1/2 inch thick plastic cutting boards used for the top and bottom plates and pressure disks, white pvc pipe, and a plastic floor drain cap.

New Horse-drawn Side Delivery Rakes from Europe

New Horse-drawn Side Delivery Rakes from Europe

In Northern Italy the two agricultural machinery manufacturers MAINARDI A. s.r.l. and REPOSSI Macchine Agricole s.r.l. produce a vast range of haying equipment with pto and hydraulic drive, also hay rakes with mechanical drive by the rear wheels. The majority of the sold machines of this type are currently used with small tractors and motor cultivators. The technology of these rakes is based on implements which were developed in the 1940s, when animal traction still played an important role in Italy’s agriculture.

Horse Powered Snow Scoop

Horse Powered Snow Scoop

by:
from issue:

The scoop has two steel sides about 5 feet apart sitting on steel runners made out of heavy 2 X 2 angle iron, there is a blade that is lowered and raised by use of a foot release which allows the weight of the blade to lower it and then lock in the down position and the forward motion of the horses to raise it and lock it in the up position. This is accomplished by a clever pivoting action where the tongue attaches to the snow scoop.

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