Trekking was a noisy affair; the driver shouting out the names of the oxen if he considered they were not pulling their weight.
Like all true Mashona cattle he was short in the legs and long in the body with a beautiful head, short flat horns and the kindest, wisest eyes. He was fond of strolling up to strangers in the mining camps and would stand still as they scratched his ears, or put an arm around his great neck. The two hind oxen, achter-os, or wheelers, who steered the wagon, had most work to do in avoiding obstacles in the road and were the most important oxen.
In addition, he might shout for them to go slow, even punch the leaders on the nose, or throw handfuls of dirt at the others to make them slow up. Next in importance to the wheelers were the voor-os or leaders and expected to be a cut above the other oxen.
They have to choose and follow the most promising track and not wander into the veld, or lunge at the voorlooper when he unhooked the tow. They act for the rest of the team; for instance if attacked from the front by lion they keep their nerve and gently back up with their heads down and horns pointing out. Hans Sauer says near Hartley Hills where he was inspecting old workings with Bob Williams and Edward Maund, their wagon was charged in the early morning by a fully grown male lion. The first he heard was the lion roaring and the shouts of the driver and on getting up saw the lion making short menacing rushes at the lead oxen.
The voorloper abandoned the tow and bolted underneath the wagon and refused to return. Sauer fired at the lion, wounding him and he vanished into the long grass. Stanley Hyatt describes a journey down to Filabusi, where sixteen kilometres short of their destination near the Killarney Mine they stuck fast in the mud and it took five days to move a kilometre.
It was a huge grassy vlei, saturated with water from constant rain, and the ox-wagon stuck up to its axles in the black mud. Any attempt to move made the ox-wagon sink deeper whilst the heaving cattle trampled the ground into a pond of black slime and were up to their bellies in thick mud. Hyatt disliked trekking on the highveld between Bulawayo and Gwelo he never shot anything here which meant he never had fresh meat on that road.
In the bush country towards Fort Victoria there were trees for firewood and villages to buy milk, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and eggs; also guinea-fowl to shoot. The disadvantage was that the rivers were much bigger and the chances of being held up by them increased. Both Sauer and Hyatt say that it was good practice to cross a river as soon as it was reached, in case it rose in the next few hours.
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When they were held up at a river a stick would be driven into the bank at the edge of the flood and left for an hour or two before it was inspected to see if the level had fallen. Hyatt says his spirits would rise and fall with the water. A drop of an inch and you gave the wagon boys extra sugar; a rise of half an inch and you throw your boots at the cook boy. His younger brother Amayas was once compelled by floods to wait six weeks at the Tebekwe River, but as he was so ill with fever, he never noticed the time. Stanley Hyatt, with more experience of transport-riding in this country, favoured the local cattle found in Manicaland.
They bought many hundreds of cattle over the next three years, but always hung onto their original sixteen. The conductor, or driver, needs to search out the best places for pasture when they stop in the early morning and find soft ground for the oxen to lie down comfortably tied to their chain at night. He must notice and doctor all wounds and cuts on his oxen, especially on the hoff , or hump, and for this he uses the greased tar used for the axles of the wagon.
He will rest his oxen for up to ten days when they look weary and throw over and shoe them with two shoes, or ox cues when their hooves get worn out. He will not allow his oxen to come into contact with any other cattle for fear of them catching lung-sickness or red-water. Matching the temperaments of oxen was an important matter as pairing an eager ox with a slow one acts as a brake on the span because the eager ox with the slight advance of the yoke-end tends to push his mate back.
Oxwagon Lodge Reviews, Hartbeespoort
In the first ten or fourteen days of a trek the driver will constantly change the pairings until he is satisfied they are perfectly paired. The long lash ends in two shorter pieces called the achter-slag and the voor-slag ; the latter being at the end of the whip. When a whip is properly handled, the achter-slag and even more the voor-slag inflicts the punishment and produces the rolling and cracking sound which can be heard for miles around.
The crack of his whip was sufficient, together with his voice, except when the wagon was badly stuck in a stream or black vlei. The riem is indispensable, anything broken is bound up, and it serves to tie up the oxen at night, for the tow, catching the oxen at inspan time, for arranging them in yokes and for a hundred other purposes. Check In - Check Out 1 room.
OXWAGON LODGE - Reviews & Price Comparison (Hartbeespoort, South Africa) - TripAdvisor
Show Prices. Like saving money? We search up to sites for the lowest prices. Show Prices Compare best prices from top travel sites. Other Recent Reviews. Read all 51 reviews. Level 3 Contributor. Reviewed 9 July The champagne breakfast with the beautiful view over Harties was yet another pleasant surprise. Thank you, we will be back for an oxtail lunch.
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By Desiree, South Africa. We slept in real oxwagons, ate out of enamel plates and drank out of enamel mugs. The Manager, Mark and his team were excellent hosts. Very friendly and helpful. The place was neat and tidy. The home made bread was a winner.
Inside the Oxwagon - Picture of Oxwagon Lodge, Hartbeespoort
The atmosphere was very relaxed and warm. By Patrizia, South Africa. Wonderful experience, the host Marc was most gracious, the "trekker" supper was great and the champagne "boereontbyt" was awesome. It was great learning more about oxwagons at the museum and about all the different wagons history. A great experience all round. By Dene, South Africa. Really special experience we won't forget. Thanks Mark!!!
By Nikki, South Africa. This was now perfection at it's best. We will with no doubt come back All Rights Reserved Newsletter Signup.