A Training Rig for Jack and Bill – Southern Pines, NC
Somehow, in my new-found enthusiasm for welding, sand blasting and paint, I overlooked one small detail of my pending expedition; my mules Jack and Bill.
After all, hadn’t I bought them early in the planning stages of the trip so I could get them in shape? But now they mostly just kept their round bale company.
Woody and Maggie escaped my inattention. I still managed to ride them weekly. But the thought of riding plow mules raised the hollow enthusiasm reserved for pushing a wheel barrowful of cement. In the end the guilt got me.
I threw my saddle on Bill, whom I judged the milder of the two, and ponied Jack. They immediately blundered into a yellow jacket’s nest which gave the failed attempt more of a Mad Max taste than a Ben Hur experience.
So I built a training wagon, little more than a flat bed on wheels, while I continued on the “real” one.
Scavenging the remains of the original wagon for timbers
With friends Eric and Ginny, I picked clean what remained of the original wagon.
The new frame members are laid out
2 by 6 boards were reconstituted into a box frame.
The box frame
In two days, my friends helped me build a stripped down wagon bed that fit onto my Pioneer wagon chassis. The project came to ten dollars; five for lumber and five for a gallon of mismatched paint from Lowe’s. Everything else was recycled.
Jack and Bill are put into harness
Hitched up at last!
Jack the mule with Bernie and Sparky, un-official “Expedition Dog”
Finally, I was poised to hit the road, albeit in a make shift way.
Then I discovered something else I’d ignored.
I didn’t know how to drive a mule team.
That’s where Hoy stepped in and got me moving.