A Good Thunderstorm

Posted by Rural Missourian on Jul 18th, 2008

Our resident Mizzurah poet, good friend, and sister in Christ, Jan Wyller, knows how much I like a good thunderstorm, which we have plenty of here in the show-me-state. Below is a poem she wrote for me about them. It’s an awesome sight to behold a furious thunderstorm roll through at night from the balcony seat of an upstairs window of our home. The incredibly spectacular light shows and deafening booms thrill me, as I know my Maker and Lord ordains these storms. They not only speak to me of His absolute majesty and wonderful glory, but also of His humbling justice and holiness.  Thanks Jan.


God’s gracious countenance

Shines often

on us,


I love a good thunderstorm!

to let its winds whish ’round,

pummel me with tepid rain,

to hear heaven’s rifles crack –


not reporting (whom, or) what they shot,

Echoing away, Deeper volleys encoring . . .

I love to see, sharp against the bullying dark,

some distant

torched tree a-sizzle,

Love laughing, watching your hair

frizzle, stand erect

in electric air!

Ozone’s fruity fragrance teases


Greening above announces: ¿HAIL!?


Under grey-yellow skies,

we picked (and ate) from flat green grass

its icy globes

dropped just for us!

I’m grateful His summer cycle’s

not tight,

Its clean freewheeling blessing’s

Bright, warm—


I still love a good



Posted by Missouri Rev on Jul 5th, 2006

What do sweeps, shovels, scooters, twisters, half shovels, muley twisters, half sweeps, bull tongues, buzzard wings, scrapers, and subsoilers have in common? They are all terms once used by American farmers to describe the various shapes of the plows they used in working the soils of our nation. I discovered this little known gem of an Americanism when I ran across the term ‘muley twister’ while doing research on draft mule logging. As is the case whenever one digs into a trade abandoned by a culture long ago, one discovers many terms that need defining, like ‘muleskinner.’

In working through this fun process I have had the help of a wonderful book my wife picked up at a public school auction, A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles (Mitford M. Mathews 1951). She picked up a large box of old “archaic” dictionaries for $1, a veritable treasure trove for one who loves history and enjoys writing. Amazingly, every one of these books has the word “DISCARDED” stamped in bold on the opening page. Yup, the minds of the American children have long been discarded, as there is no need for them to learn their American heritage, as they might get the wrong impression about the great multicultural, polytheistic democracy they worship 5 days a week during the school year. Besides, there is nothing worse than having your own cannon fodder turn on you by coming to the knowledge of the truth!

Below is a small list of interesting “muleisms,” a new word for your agrarian vocabulary that I wished I would have coined. The mule at one time was a major contributor to the American economy and way of life, which is why it has spawned dozens of words and sayings over the years. Each entry has a basic definition and sentence where it is used from the past in a song, book, magazine, or newspaper (which are dated). Many of these sentences are quite funny like “If only I had studied carpentry or mule skinning instead of ballet.” For a great homeschooling project I suggest you have your children do the research and compile their own list of Americanisms; it’s not only loads of fun, it’s quite educating.

I am also working on a list of old mule sayings. Though it might take hours of research, hard work, and great sacrifice, “I’ll do it if it harelips a mule!– The Missouri Rev

Missouri Mule – was once considered the best mule bred; the term was first coined at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis. (1923) Nation. “Then there is the Missouri mule. He it was who won the war [WWI].” (1947) Time – Of Mules & Men. “The celebrated Missouri mule, isolationist by temperament, has been having some rude shocks, is due for more.” [According to the article, it appears that some Missouri mules which had been exported to Mexico were giving the Mexicans some troubles for which they were destined for some “rude shocks” because they believed they were too pampered. Said Mexico City’s Ultimas Noticias: “It is said that the mules must be bathed every eight days . . . . Loosely paraphrasing from the classic Bogart movie Treasures of the Sierra Madre, “Care? We don’t need to give them mules no stinking care!” – TCM]

Mulada – a drove of mules, (1846) Abert Exam. N. Mexico. “Flocks of golden-headed troopials . . . mingled most sociably with the common cow-bird, and all in great glee were catching grass-hoppers in the vicinity of our mulada.”

Muleskinner – the name for the whip used to drive mule teams, (1912) Wason Friar Tuck. “He would stand up an’ yell, crack his mule-skinner, and send the ponies along on a dead run.”

Muleskinner – the name of those who drive mule teams, akin to bull whacker, who would “skin” the mule with a whip to move them on. (1888) Century Mag. “These prairie schooners usually go together, the brawny teamsters known either as “bull-whackers’ or as “mule-skinners,’ stalking beside their slow moving teams.

Muleskinning the profession of driving a team of mules. (1945) MacDonald Egg & I. “If only I had studied carpentry or mule skinning instead of ballet.”

Mulepuncher – a derogatory term for one who drives mules. (1870) Terr. Enterprise (Virginia City, Nevada). “Even a boss driver is liable to suffer the indignity of being called a ‘mule-puncher.’”

Mulewhacker – a derivative made from muleskinner and bullwhacker. (1873) Beadle Undevel. West. The streets were thronged with motley crowds of railroad men . . . and mulewhackers.”

Mule Litter – a chair or litter attached to the back or pack of a mule to carry travelers or the wounded from a battlefield. (1888) Billings Hardtack. “Another invention for the transportation of the wounded from the field is the Cacolet or Mule Litter.”

Mule Rush – a mule or horse race. (1883) Mark Twain Life on Miss. “The most enjoyable of all races is a steamboat race; but next to that, I prefer the gay and joyous mule-rush.” [since the word “gay” has been redefined in our culture, this quote might get one in trouble – TCM]

Muley Saw – the primary saw at a mill. (1846) Davenport Gazette. “The saw mill has but one saw; a ‘muley,’ constructed upon an improved principle . . .” (1883) Harper’s Mag. “If the log is of large size, it is sent at once against a ‘muley,’ or straight rip-saw, working perpendicularly, which splits it in two.”

Muley Twister – a moldboard plow where the cutting share and moldboard are one piece, though without the upper part of the moldboard. (1944) Clark Pills. “By colloquial designations the various strange shapes were known, to the trade as sweeps, shovels, scooters, twisters, half shovels, muley twisters, half sweeps, bull tongues, buzzard wings, scrapers, and subsoilers.”

Mule Road – a zigzagging road. (1880) Mark Twain Tramp Abroad. “We followed the mule-road, a zigzag course, now to the right and now to the left, but always up. [This is sure proof that Mark Twain was from Missouri, as all one needs to do is drive five minutes to discover a Missouri Mule Road – TCM]

A “Murmuration” of Starlings

Posted by Missouri Rev on Nov 2nd, 2005

I recently saw a murmuration of starlings fly over, that is right, a murmuration.  Try having your spell checker recognize that one.  As I am always trying to improve my writing skills, I ran across several names for groups of animals that are most interesting.  The English language is rich or, might I add, was rich in such amazing descriptions of God’s creatures, as it is in so many things, but over time they have largely disappeared through ignorance and lack of use.  Much of this can be blamed on the fine job the state does in lobotomizing its students in the public school system.  Being myself a product of the public school system, for which it has taken me years by God’s grace to rectify through steady self education, I had no clue there were such magnificent names until now.  This could get really fun!!  

Most of us are aware of the typical names such as a colony of ants, flock of birds, pride of lions, herd of cattle, covey of quail, flock of sheep, pod of whales, swarm of bees, gaggle of geese, and now the murmuration of starlings.  But were you aware of a shrewdness of apes, pace of asses, cete of badgers, sloth of bears, gang of buffalos, covert of coots, plump of ducks, gang of elk, charm of finches, skulk of foxes, knot of frogs, drift of hogs, kindle of kittens, exaltation of larks, sord of mallards, pod of meadowlarks, watch of nightingales, muster of peacocks, nide of pheasants, bevy of quail, trip of seals, wisp of snipe, host of sparrows, spring of teal, skulk of vermin, gam of whales, clowder of wildcats, skein of wild fowl, sounder of wild hogs, or fall of woodcocks?  Nearly half of these words show up as miss spelled by my trusty spell checker.  Now that you agrarians have had your animal kingdom vocabulary increased, think of the fun you can have in rightly describing the various critters you might steward or see, let alone the various people types we all know?  In keeping with the biblical tradition of using animals to describe certain groups of depraved people like the infamous brood of vipers, what, for instance, could we call the corrupt politicians of our area?  How about a skulk of vermin!  What about the profane talking heads of modern media?  How about a pace of asses!  What about the lawless generational welfare types that are always rooting for more handouts?  How about a sounder of wild hogs?  You get the idea.  Have fun!  — The Missouri Rev