Which animals were kept on mission San Buenaventura?

Tourist Attractions

By Laurie Baratti

Introduction to Mission San Buenaventura

Mission San Buenaventura was founded in 1782 in what is now Ventura, California. It was the ninth mission established by the Spanish Franciscans in California, and it played an important role in the colonization and Christianization of the Native American populations in the region. The mission was home to a variety of domesticated animals, which served as a crucial source of food, labor, and transportation for the residents.

Domesticated Animals on the Mission

The animals kept at Mission San Buenaventura included cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, chickens, goats, dogs, and mules. Each of these species had a unique role to play in the daily life of the mission. They were raised and cared for by the Native American converts and the Spanish colonizers who lived and worked at the mission.

Cattle: The Backbone of the Mission

Cattle were by far the most numerous and important domesticated animals on Mission San Buenaventura. They provided meat, milk, hides, and tallow for the residents. They were also used for plowing fields, hauling carts, and other forms of labor. The cattle were carefully managed and bred to ensure a steady supply of meat and other products.

Sheep: A Valuable Source of Wool

Sheep were also an important part of the mission’s livestock. They were raised primarily for their wool, which was used to make clothing, blankets, and other textiles. The mission had a dedicated wool-processing area where the sheep were sheared, the wool was cleaned and carded, and the yarn was spun.

Horses: Essential for Transportation

Horses were essential for transportation at the mission. They were used for riding, pulling carriages and wagons, and carrying goods. The mission kept a herd of horses for these purposes, and they were carefully bred and trained to ensure their reliability and stamina.

Pigs: Important for Meat and Lard

Pigs were raised for their meat and lard, which were important sources of food for the residents. The pigs were allowed to roam freely in the mission’s pastures, where they foraged for food. They were rounded up and butchered when needed, and their meat was cured and stored for later use.

Chickens: A Common Livestock

Chickens were a common livestock at the mission. They provided eggs and meat for the residents, and they were also used for their feathers and down. The mission kept a flock of chickens, and they were allowed to roam freely in the mission’s gardens and pastures.

Goats: A Multi-Purpose Animal

Goats were valued for their milk, meat, and wool. They were also used for their hides and their ability to clear brush and weeds from the mission’s gardens and fields. The mission kept a small herd of goats, and they were carefully managed to ensure their health and productivity.

Dogs: Guarding and Hunting Companions

Dogs were kept at the mission for several purposes. They served as guarding and hunting companions, helping to protect the residents from wild animals and intruders. They were also valued as loyal and affectionate pets, providing companionship and entertainment for the residents.

Mules: A Crossbreed of Horses and Donkeys

Mules were a crossbreed of horses and donkeys, and they were valued for their strength and endurance. They were used for heavy labor, such as hauling heavy loads and plowing fields. The mission kept a small herd of mules, and they were carefully bred and trained to ensure their usefulness and reliability.

The Absence of Cats and Other Animals

Interestingly, cats were not kept at Mission San Buenaventura. This was likely due to their association with witchcraft and superstition in Spanish culture. Other animals that were not kept at the mission included rabbits, which were considered pests, and llamas, which were not well-suited to the climate and terrain of the region.

Conclusion: The Importance of Animals on the Mission

The domesticated animals kept at Mission San Buenaventura were essential to the daily life of the residents. They provided food, labor, transportation, and companionship, and they were carefully managed and bred to ensure their productivity and usefulness. Today, the mission serves as a reminder of the important role that animals played in the history of California and the colonization of the Americas.

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Laurie Baratti

Laurie Baratti, a renowned San Diego journalist, has contributed to respected publications like TravelAge West, SPACE, Modern Home + Living, Montage, and Sandals Life. She's a passionate travel writer, constantly exploring beyond California. Besides her writing, Laurie is an avid equestrian and dedicated pet owner. She's a strong advocate for the Oxford comma, appreciating the richness of language.

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