Farm animals were very important to the settlers. They relied on the animals for food and clothing. Oxen and horses did the heavy work.
Oxen could haul logs. They pulled plows and heavy wagons. Oxen were slower than horses but much stronger and easier to take care of. Oxen could survive by eating prairie grass. A yoke made of wood was used to harness the oxen. A team of oxen was very valuable to the early settlers.
Horses pulled plows, wagons and buggies. In the winter the homesteader travelled in a horse-drawn sleigh. Horses cost more than oxen but were faster. Horses ate grass and hay but also needed grain feed to stay healthy. Horses also required a lot of water to drink. A farmer needed a few horses to pull farm machinery.
Some farmers kept a few geese. Children picked the feathers for filling pillows and feather beds or quilts. There were usually two quilts for each bed in winter - one to sleep on and one to use as a cover. It took alot of feathers to make one feather quilt.
Chickens provided eggs and meat. The feathers were also used for pillows and quilts.
Cows were raised for meat and but mainly for milk which was churned into butter or made into cheese.
Pigs were easy to raise because they ate roots, waste food (old bread, vegetable and fruit peels, spoiled foods) and sour milk or whey. The bacon or ham from the pig was salted or smoked.
The farm animals needed shelter to protect them from winter storms and freezing temperatures. The farmer stored hay and grain to feed the animals through the long cold winter.
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