Friend to Friend: The Extra Load

The Extra Load

Many years ago, before homes were heated by gas or electricity, one of the major fuels in my home town was wood. In the late summer and fall we would take our wagon and team of horses into the mountains and bring down logs. The wagon consisted only of two front and two back wheels connected by a very strong hardwood pole called a reach.

The men and boys would leave early in the morning, often before sunup, to begin the long journey. Mother would fix a lunch, and the boys would ride on the skimpy wagon. Sometimes we would be lucky enough to take our ponies and ride ahead of the wagon and play we were real “scouts.”

Once the wagon turned off the main canyon road, the trails up through the ravines and over the ridges were narrow, steep, and rocky. Often the rain had caused gullies to wash down the trails, cutting away banks, exposing large rocks, and making deep ruts. Travel was very slow, but when we finally arrived, we all began work at once.

As the trees were felled, one of the horses would drag the logs over to the wagon, where we would roll or lift them up. Often the logs were so long they would hang over the back of the wagon. When the wagon was finally loaded, the logs were chained securely both in front and back. Then a large chain was wrapped around another half dozen logs, and these were tied to the back of the wagon to be dragged along the trail. With the already heavy load, I wondered at first why the straining horses were forced to pull these extra logs across the rough terrain. But I soon learned the reason.

Although going up the mountain road was rough, coming down the trail with such a heavy load was dangerous! It was difficult for the horses to hold back the heavily loaded wagon on the steep mountain roads. Even when the brakes were applied to keep the back wheels from turning, the wagon would skid and slide. The horses had to struggle to hold back the great weight of the wagon. The heavy logs dragging behind slowed the wagon enough to help the horses hold back the wagon. This way the horses were not pushed forward any faster than they should go, and a runaway or a tip-over on sharp turns into the deep canyon was prevented.

When the wagonload successfully had survived the dangerous descent and reached the main canyon road, the log drag was pulled to the side and left to be picked up later when there were sufficient logs on the side of the road to make a full load.

Sometimes young people wonder why they have to carry heavy loads—do chores, be disciplined, and comply with the rules and regulations established by their parents. However, parents know that we need to carry such loads. They know that we need to have “brakes” applied and sometimes an extra “log drag” to save us from a “runaway” or a “tip-over.” No doubt these extra loads sometimes come to us to strengthen and stabilize us and hold us back a little in order to help us go forward.

One of the great lessons of life is to learn to be obedient to the laws of God by keeping His commandments. Sometimes we are required to carry loads that we think are too heavy or too difficult. Generally, however, when we learn why such loads come to us, we see that a wise and loving Heavenly Father is guiding and blessing our lives.

[illustration] Illustrated by Bill Whitaker