Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Electric Cart, Neon Spring

Photo by sld.
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Harry Gets Wheels!

Happy Harry, the dog, gets his own cart. He seems pleased; maybe he's happy to have a job like his friend Scout.
Video by sld.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Controlled Burn for Prairie Restoration Project

Non-native species of grass come up earlier in the spring than our native grasses or wildflowers. By burning annually when the non-natives are up about three inches I hope to set them back enough to allow the natives who are about to emerge to compete more vigorously. Burning also helps keep brush from encroaching.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Peaches the Pony Stands for Hoof Trimming

Photo by sld.

Not every two-year old horse is this calm. Peaches is "For Sale" to an approved home.
Photo by sld.
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Weather Alert!

If an ox sticks his tail up in the air, it's a sign the weather will change.

Stepping Right Out

Notice I have moved the "yoke" back over the shoulders. This appears to be a more comfortable setting for light carting; likely it would put too much pressure at the breastbone for heavy pulling though.
Photo by sld.
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Ox Hauling Firewood

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spreading Manure

I've eliminated the up-over-the-top yoke altogether and added a push-bar in the front. This is much stronger. The strap over the top does the bulk of the work, the front bar keep it in place.

That's shredded-paper bedding mixed with waste hay and manure.
I used non-glossy, mostly white, shredded office paper; it brightens up the barn and absorbs a lot of moisture. Shredded paper works best if mixed with waste hay or straw to give it bulk. By itself it doesn't form a pack suitable for lying on.

We'll find out how quickly it decomposes in the pasture this summer..
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Harry Loves Ropes

Remember that red firehose?
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Training Ox to the Music of "Hungarian Dance No. 5: Allegro; Vivace"

Video by Amy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Look Mom, No Halter!

Out Walking.
Ox, oxen, calf, bull, bullock, steer, and training.
Photo by Amy.

Ox, oxen, calf, bull, bullock, steer, and training.
Photo by Amy.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Travel by Travois

Mrs. Black Horse, Tse-Tsehése-stahase, with dog travois.
Walter S. Campbell Collection, Western History collections, University of Oklahoma Library

Mrs. Soski with Dog Travois.
1916,  Fort Macleod, Alberta.
Adapted from photo by Oliver, W.J., Calgary, Alberta

 Lakota Woman with Dog Travois
Rosebud Reservation

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nothing New Under the Sun

Stanley Berkeley, 1855-1909 Englishman
I thought my up-over-the-neck design somewhat unique until I discovered this old illustration in a 19th Century children's book (I don't know the accuracy but the illustration looks convincing). There are however a few flaws in my design; with the flexible poles on my oxcart the three corners of the two-sided triangle are weak, especially the apex.
In the story, the woodcutter has unknowingly given the King a ride into town. Somewhat befuddled, he is returning the guards salute.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Off Road Adventures


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The training sleigh now has wheels from a discarded leaf-rake, and a platform of used plywood out of Dad’s collection of scrap lumber. The screws came from the old Cyr Hardware store apartment I tore down in Oklee last summer. The cart (it’s now an oxcart!) also has handles — mostly left over plumbing supplies from one of Dad’s plumbing projects. My plan was that the “yoke” would just sit on the shoulders, but it was too light weight to stay in place. So, as you see in the pictures, I had added his collar and a piece of strap from a broken tie-down to make it work til we got back to the shop.

We found that discarded piece of red fire hose along the way. It just might come in handy someday.

Oh by the way, he seems to have recovered from his lameness. It only took a day-or-two. Are you wondering if his feet were cold in the pictures? I don’t know, but mine sure were!  (3/13/2010)

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Scout has Outgrown Peaches!

And isn't he a fine looking chap.
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Maybe my failsafe plan of eating my beef if he doesn’t work out as an ox is moving into Plan B.

When Scout limped out of the barn, this morning, my first thought was laminitis — always on my mind, after his hoof trouble in January. After watching him move around in obvious pain I now question the laminitis theory. In addition to his apparent lameness he occasionally buckles at the knees.

Could he have pinched a nerve over his shoulders yesterday when the camera flashed and the dog barked? Knowing how calves are traditionally manhandled at branding time, on ranches in the West (and at youth rodeos), it seems unlikely our little incident would have yielded these results. But maybe.

I have seen somewhat similar gaits in sheep with unusual nervous system disorders: Scrapie? Listeriosis? White Muscle Disease?

My original intention was to raise a beef-steer, however, I got sidetracked with this ox thing: Plan A. My heart sinks thinking Plan B may be transpiring before my eyes.

Would you like that quarter-pounder with fries?   (2/27/2010)

B is for Burgers
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Friday, April 16, 2010

In the Flash of a Camera

Akin to a falling star, I knocked off the top rail of the feed-bunk before crashing into it. Lodged there in the hay I began my assessment of what had just happened.
Not long after I conceived the idea of raising an ox to pull a cart, I learned that it is possible to ride them as well. How fun could it be to disappear into the woods on the shoulders of a two-thousand pound behemoth — with horns.
It is advised to teach cattle at a young age while they are of a size you can handle. It is said they will remember well into adulthood what they learned as a calf, however, they are not able to bear much weight until they have fully matured. With this information in mind, I set out to accustom Scout to the idea of carrying a rider.
Oft time, while he’s eating his grain, I take the opportunity to throw a leg over him and stand astride in the rider’s position (while bearing my own weight). Scout has grown sufficiently tall that, in order to achieve this task, I must stand on the tips of my toes.
This was the beginning of my downfall.
Not so long ago I discovered this thing called a blog, and before long I was posting a few pictures here. While standing over Scout on my tiptoes, like a clumsy ballerina, I decided to capture the moment on camera, to share with you. I raised both hands high overhead (like ballerinas do) to get a birds-eye image of my ox training genius.
In a well synchronized dance the camera flashed, the dog barked, the calf startled — and here I lie in the feed-bunk. A fallen star.  (2/26/2010)

Ox Training

Using long-reins to reinforce basic commands.

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Puppy Takes a Nap

Blogs are So Boring!
Harry the Dog

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Dog Helps Himself to Chow

Puppy says, "Let's get to the bottom of this."
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Ox Training Sleigh

This is Scout's first time pulling anything.
The self braking system keeps the sleigh from running into the calf's heels.

The training sleigh needs to be lightweight, have high clearance for unexpected off-road adventures, and it needs to be self-braking to prevent it from sliding into the calf’s heels. This particular model meets all those requirements and comes with baked on powder enamel finish.
Actually this is the frame of a discarded treadmill turned upside down. It works great!
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Scout Still Shares His Bowl With Harry

Ox-in-training still shares with dog.
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