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Plowing Big with Mules
Plowing Big with Mules
Freddy Valentino and Annie Arnold on the plow, George Cabral on ribbons, Madelyn Bell on ground.

Plowing Big with Mules
The Shenandoah Hitch

Paul Reno wrote us about one of his big recreation projects, putting 21 mules and “Schandoney” (Shenandoah) hitch to 13 plow bottoms. In his words; “This was my 2000 & 2001 project rebuilding 3 stockton gang plows, butt chain harness, and Gene Hilty’s 21 head Schandoney Hitch. Also helping George Cabral to train 8 mules for a cadre to hook what mules we could find to pull it. All the old pictures I could find showed 8 or 10 head on one or two plows. To center the 21 Schandoney I needed 3 plows, 13 bottoms with 143″ cut. Everyone said 21 mules couldn’t pull it. Our 21 walked away with the plows set deep as they would go (sandy loam and good rain the week before).”

Plowing Big with Mules

“Three plows long is kind of unwieldy to make a square turn. Taking off 286″ per round, ten acres, cut it down awful fast. For practice we had to do a lot of recycling dirt and use unplowed ground for show schedule. Freddie Valentino is ailing so we will not be able to do it this year. He has pens & corrals for over 50 head but is short of tillable land.”

Plowing Big with Mules
Plowing Big with Mules
Plowing Big with Mules

“This is the way the Schandoney should be riding when all is going well. But that blasted bundle of lines got no business being there. Nowadays skinners want to drive everyone of them. They say to heck with buck backing (that’s a shame). I says there is not a man in the world can handle 6 or 8 when they want to go but this hitch will set them down in their tracks when a good leader slacks off.”

(Editor’s note: What Paul is referring to is that, with a buck back tie in system, if the leaders are stopped the whole outfit is stopped. Having lines on every animal is less of a guarantee of security than having lines just to the leaders and each animal secured to the equalizer. Paul and I are in complete agreement on this. LRM)

Plowing Big with Mules
Plowing Big with Mules

“The man standing in straw hat and Carharts is Gene Hilty. He was always where he should have been and very useful.”

Plowing Big with Mules

“The white mules are American Creams.”