Bernson's Corner: The simpler times - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bernson's Corner: The simpler times


The people called Shakers settled in Kentucky back in the 19th century. They're gone now, but they're still celebrated for their religious faith, elegant crafts and especially pioneering farming methods. One of those practices is still alive and well in Shakertown where the emphasis is on staying true to tradition.

150 years ago, a team of oxen constituted heavy equipment; a rare sight in America these days.

George Morse is the driver of the oxen, Bronk and Buck. Billy Pruitt walks behind the team, on the cultivator. This is how farming was done before the internal combustion engine took over. 

Buck and Bronk are living history, part of the restored Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.

Morse says, "The Shakers preferred the milking shorthorns, which we have here. They had the largest milking shorthorn herd in the country right here in Pleasant Hill in 1857."

Buck and Bronk are scheduled to be put out to pasture in a few years, which is why the calves named Moon and Star are being prepared for their future lives as gentle, slow-moving beasts of burden. Moon and Star won't be referred to as oxen until they're four years old.

Now, George Morse knows what he's doing around a team of oxen.

"Yes, I grew up on a small dairy farm in Vermont -- where we made maple syrup and did logging and firewood."

When it comes to how strong the oxen are, Morse says, "They'll pull about twice their weight, if they're conditioned, and used daily. They're 2,500 pounds apiece, so that's 5,000 pounds total, and could pull close to 10,000 pounds."

In our fast-paced and gotta-get-ahead life and times, it's refreshing just to stop and consider this simple, quiet way of living the Shakers exemplified. 

Pruitt says, "The pioneers liked them going westward, 'cause they're sure-footed.  They can go across a rough terrain where a horse would break a leg."

The team of George and Billy and the team of Buck and Bronk, get things done at a steady pace, one our ancestors understood. If we move a little slower, we might learn to enjoy the simple gifts the most.

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