Sunday, June 6, 2010
Mom and the Oxen
Several of these Important Historical Trails started right here in the Kansas City area because this was like the outer limit of civilization in those days. If you left Missouri and went to Kansas, you weren't even in the United States anymore. Instead, you were in Indian Territory. So places like Independence and Westport were the last places where you could buy food and wagons and all the stuff you might need before you got to Oregon or California or Utah or wherever you were going.
And since cars hadn't been invented, people had to travel in wagons pulled by horses or mules or oxen. Horses and mules ate lots of grain, so if you used them to pull your wagon, you had to take along a bunch of grain, which most people didn't have room for because they also had to take food for themselves and maybe a plow and a bed and some other stuff. But oxen were cheap, and also they could just eat grass and be happy, so that's why most people used oxen instead of mules or horses.
Maybe you are wondering what an ox is exactly. Well, Mom told to me that you can make an ox by taking a boy calf and doing a special kind of surgery on him and then training him to pull a wagon. When oxen pull wagons, they wear these wooden things around their necks called yokes instead of wearing a harness like a horse or a sled dog wears.