"Mountain Memories" Page 17
One of the Self brothers, I believe it was Simp, became so
furious with his ox that he packed mud on" the animal's head thinking that if he was unable to breathe he would surely jump up; but the ox was extremely stubborn and refused to get up from the ground. After a little while, Simp noticed the steer wagging his tail back and forth as if he were in the throes of death. Uncle Simp became very worried at the thought of losing his only work animal, and began to scratch frantically at the mud pack on the ox's head, saying, "Lord God Almighty, he's smothering to death!" Did the ox ever get up? I don't know.
By the time my father Oliver (Joe) Miller was old enough to have a family and work animals, the days of using oxen for work was about a thing of the past. One time Joe Miller owned a mare that would not pull. In a field of corn she worked beautifully, plowing as peacefully as any horse; but as soon as she was hitched to a heavy object she would balk every time. One day Joe had worked her in the field all morning and it was dinnertime. The mare was smart enough to know this, and Joe knew that she knew it, so he took her loose from the plow and hitched her to a large log. When she felt the tug of the heavy log on her harness she stopped in her tracks and would not move another inch. Joe simply walked down the hill a little ways and took a position behind some bushes to wait and watch.
The mare stood still for a while but it wasn't long until she became restless and began to look for her master. When she could see no sign of him she looked behind at the enormous log fastened to her traces. Joe stood motionless behind the bushes and laughed to himself at the intelligence of the animal. The mare could not understand why her master had deserted her, but she could understand the empty feeling in her stomach and she knew that down at the barn there was something to take away that feeling. Suddenly she gave one long heave, and she and the log went scooting down the hillside like a snake scooting over hot boulders. And Joe, with a smile of victory on his face, came up behind. He was heading for home with a mare that had been outwitted by her two masters, Joe Miller and her stomach.
Forest fires were a common thing in these mountains and the people didn't pay much attention to them most of the time. They said it was good to burn out the old brush and leaves and let new growth come up and there would be more for the free grazing