Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Lame Oxen

When we made camp, after having traveled sixteen miles, John Mitchell called my attention to the fact that our oxen were growing lame, and he seemed quite vexed because I treated it as a matter of course.

Any one who has traveled from the Missouri River to the Oregon country, knows that while crossing the prairies, which are covered with a dry stubble of matted grass, the hoofs of the animals will become hard and crack, thus allowing dirt to collect in the crevices until the leg above the hoof swells, and sometimes festers.

There is only one way to treat this trouble, which is to wash thoroughly in water made very strong with soap, and then scrape away all the diseased part of the hoof, after which tar, or hot pitch, should be applied freely.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Our men should have looked after the feet of the animals, but perhaps because that required too much labor, they had allowed the poor beasts to go neglected, and now had come the time when, unless they set about it manfully, our journey to the Oregon country might be ended suddenly.