MEMORY # 108

OCTOBER 27, 2004


Author : James Wood

            Recently, I was interpreting a poem entitled “The Auld Farmer’s New Year Morning Salutation To His Auld Mare, Maggie”.  The poem was written by the Scottish Bard, Robert Burns over 200 years ago.  It tells a story of a farmer who with his horse, Maggie, had grown old together.  It ends with two verses that set me to thinking of the two animals that played very important roles in the life of our family—Kit and Red—two large red mules.

         The last two verses as I have interpreted them follow:

“And thank not, my old trusted servant, Maggie,

that now perhaps you are less deserving,

And your old days may end in starving.

From my last bushel of grain,

A quarter-peck, I will reserve out of it,

Laid by just for you.


We have worn to crazy the years together,

We will totter about with one another.

Because I care for you, I will move your tether

To some spot reserved just for you,

Where you will nobly fill your stomach

With little or no work to do.”

            I recall, when we moved from the swamp of Eight-Mile to the hills of Walcott, AR, two of the animals we very carefully moved were Kit and Red.  They had been in the family long before I came along and had toiled right along with the rest of the family.  They aided in planting crops, plowing the gardens, pulling stumps and millions of other chores required on a working farm. Prior to mechanical tractors, they played a key role in insuring the survivability of our family. I can’t ever recall when they refused to be harnessed and go to the field.  As a matter of fact, they seemed to enjoy and look forward to it—in their own “muley” way.

            Kit died in her sleep soon after we moved to Walcott, but Red lived for several years afterward.  Red died peacefully in his pasture well over 20 years old. They had served well and deserved their retirement.

Rather than have dogs or other wild animals dig them up, their bodies were burned.  They were never replaced.

            Every once in a while, Little Granddad Ira or Dad would hook old Red to a plow or some other tool to work the garden.  It seemed Red once again felt he was useful and stepped out proudly.  It was a time that most of us would go out to see him work and would be proud of him again as he performed the task for whom he alone was best suited.

            Lesson learned from this memory:  As Kit and Red worked in the harvest, sometime Everettwould muzzle them so they could not pull ears of corn off the stalks. Usually, Dad would object because he believed workmen were worthy of their hire.  That was the way they took payment in their own simple way for the work performed.