Friday, July 15, 2016

Shag and Prince

Big Brother is awesome this season - I know I know what most are saying but as us Big Brother fans always say "People just don't understand how much pure strategy is in this game".  All people see are personalities and not the game play.  And really - EVERY SINGLE PERSON this year is eye candy. 


We had an ad-hoc meeting last night going over the long forgotten and very outdated financial policies of Columbus. Page by page we are fixing and adding guidelines. 

We also had a presentation of the 2015 audit report and I tell ya - Columbus is in it's best shape financially that it's been in in a long time and have almost recovered from the Enerpac situation when it comes to the GO Fund Balance as a % of Expenditures.  Our debt is under control and we are doing just fine.      

Shag and Prince - A Snapshot from the 1930s 

This will be in a book I am creating from my moms writings. a companion to Snapshots Along the Way  (now at the Columbus Library). 

When my parents first bought the farm in Goodrich very few farmers in the area could afford tractors. The usual source of farm power was a team of horses. Pa started out with one horse, an old, cheap one who couldn't hold up under really hard work. Luckily Pa had a fondness for calves and couldn't bear to eat veal and hated selling those cute Brown Swiss bull calves. When our first cow, Pet, had a bull calf Pa castrated it, making it a steer, and while it was still small he improvised a calf-sized harness.

Carrying the harness, he led the calf to the cornfield and let him sample corn-on-the-stalk while be put the harness on him. Then he led, or more accurately, dragged, him back to the farmyard, hitched him to the empty stoneboat and faced him toward the cornfield

Pa told me that if he'd hitched him to the barn he'd have pulled the whole building to the cornfield. He said teaching him to pull to the cornfield was easy. Teaching him to pull away from it was harder.

That was Angelface, the first of our five oxen. I don't really remember Angelface, I just remember hearing about him.

A few years later Pet and our second cow, Bonnie, both had bull calves. Pa made the best of it. He castrated them both, named them Shag and Prince, showed them how to pull the stoneboat to the cornfield and then turned their apprenticeship over to Angelface.

After the first shock of being harnessed in-team with one or the other of those callow adolescents Angelface taught them their jobs very well.

When Shag and Prince were mature, they could do more than any tractor of the time could do. They worked from morning until night, plowing and harrowing and pulling the hay wagons, pulling logs out of the woods and stumps and rocks out of the ground. They were incredibly strong.

During one rainy spell a semi-truck went into a deep ditch down the road by Shadrack's farm. Shadrack's big horses couldn't budge it. Bergmann's tractor couldn't budge it. The tow truck from Athens couldn't budge it. By that time it had attracted a crowd. Someone said,"Get Granzow's oxen." Most scoffed at the suggestion, but Mr. Shadrack had seen the oxen at work. He came and asked Pa to try it. I went along .

Shag and Prince were hitched to the truck with Pa's heaviest logging chains. Pa gave them each a slap on the shoulder and said, "0.K., boys. Giddyup!"

They moved to the ends of the chains and pulled. Nothing happened. They leaned forward into their harness and p-u-1-1-e-d. Nothing happened.  They stopped and slowly, slowly they turned their heads, Shag to the right and Prince to the left, to see what they were hitched to. They started looking at ground level and slowly, slowly moved their eyes up to the top of the truck. They looked forward. They looked at each other. They set their feet, leaned into the harness and p-u-u-u-1-1-e-d and the truck moved a bit and slowly, slowly, those marvelous, wonderful, noble, beautiful oxen pulled that semi out of the ditch.

Mom and Wayne on Shag and Prince
Shag and Prince became local Legends In Their Own Time that day, and Pa put me up on Shag's back to ride home, I was the proudest kid in all Creation.

Those two oxen were the closest thing to pets that I had in Goodrich. I loved them, and Shag,calm, placid, mighty Shag was my favorite. When he was lying in the barnyard I would sometimes go out and lie on his back and almost go to sleep there. He wouldn't move until I got off and went around in front of him where he could see I was out of harm's way. Then he'd lumber to his feet, nuzzle my shoulder with his big nose and go off about whatever oxen do in their leisure time.

When Shag and Prince were in their prime Pa started training two more oxen, King and Kaiser. They were a matched set, nearly black and very handsome, but almost useless as a team. King was O.K., but if whatever they had to pull didn't move after their effort, Kaiser would just lie down.


Art Fair this Saturday (tomorrow) in Lake Mills.  And if you don't want to see my stuff you MUST see a friend of mine Cassius Callender who is seriously world class and just down 5 canopy's from me.  I'm just glad we are not competing . . .except for best in show and he would CRUSH me. 

Next week when it's 95 degrees think of this image.   

People ask why I don't have a lot of winter shots.  Well, you try selling this when it's the middle of summer and 95 degrees. 



A new bird has been flitting around our house lately - a Brown Thrasher.  Brown Thrashers have are prodigious song birds and have the largest repertoire of songs in North America with over 1,100 different songs.  I still have not been able to get a photo but here is won from the net.

We have been serenaded every morning to some wonderful bird music.

Have a great weekend.



  1. More!

    The story about the oxen pulling the truck out of the ditch was great. Keep em coming!


  2. I agree. Your Mother's stories are very entertaining. They paint a picture of the past. Reminds me of a favorite local author Jerry Apps. Keep pulling out those stories. Great stuff.