Friday, July 11, 2008

Wagon Train Responsibilities

The Wagon Train was a community. Just as the Draft Horses had to pull their own weight, the participants also had to pull together to make the week work smoothly.
The two horses we rented became our personal responsibility for the week. That involved walking them to water morning, noon, and night; providing hay for both and additional grain for Joey in the evening, and brushing them after the ride. Tacking was our job also, usually followed by a quick inspection from one of the regular riders. There was an unspoken concern about the city-slickers (us) in horse country.

Daily assignments for the next day for all Wagon Train participants would be posted on the Chuck Wagon. You would scour the list to find your name and chore. You might be Morning Cook (this required an even earlier wake up), Noon (easy, help peel and cut carrots, slice tomatoes and spread out luncheon meat and cheese), Fire Builders (hot job), Morning or Evening Server, Evening Cook, Dishwashers (slightly disorganized), All-Day Picket Fence (a hard job pounding the stakes into the ground to hold the line for the horses), morning or evening Baggage (help load or unload the luggage into a huge trailer), Fleecers (cleanup patrol, typically assigned to the kids), or Biffy Diggers.

"Biffy" is North Dakota slang for bath-room. I thought it was a word the Wagon Train people invented, but apparently it is commonly used. Any one familiar with this expression? This job was a tough day long job, which required digging a large hole, and then rolling the portable john over it. We would have a biffy stop along the trail, where only a shallow hole yet wide enough for a 4-seater needed to be dug. Once we arrived at the campsite, a deeper hole needed to be dug since it was a longer stay. Every time we pulled out, the hole needed to be covered. Best advice here was 'just don't look'.

Typically, everyone was assigned one job for the day. If you were morning server, your responsibility was completed early in the day and you could relax for the rest of the day. If you desired, you could volunteer to help with any of the jobs. The day I was Morning Cook, we had to crack 20 dozen eggs and whisk them for scrambled eggs. We also sliced bread and separated bacon. Oatmeal and stewed prunes were also served every morning. Everyone was off to a good start with a hearty breakfast.


Marilyn Miller said...

My brother-in-law calls it just "bif". I hadn't heard that term anywhere else. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Did you get any rest?

Linda Jennings said...

This certainly was a family "vacation" to remember forever!!

Anonymous said...

I was thinking this would be so much fun EXCEPT I don't do well w/o a bathroom. Biffy's sound better than what I was imagining.