Saturday, June 19, 2010

How To (or not to) Make an Ox Yoke, Part I

Making My Single Ox His First Yoke

Addendem: These two videos will give you an overview of the basic skills and tools you might use to make an ox yoke. It was my first yoke, made on a whim with available materials. It served its purpose as a training yoke for an empty cart, and I learned some of the basic principles of yoke design --- first hand. Even after lowering the hitch points they were too high — under load the yoke tended to roll back. The narrowness of the yoke seat (from side-to-side)was criticized. However, I fail to see a problem with that. The dairy-calf has a very narrow neck. When the yoke didn't tip back, it distributed the weight evenly on the sides and top of the neck; it had no tendency to tip to the side, or to waggle.

Making the “bow” from two straight pieces joined at the bottom with a throat piece I deem as a success and I would recommend it to anyone interested in making a non-traditional yoke. It’s not rocket science, but there are a lot of dynamics at work in a properly functioning yoke. For anyone with a good set of tools and some basic hand skills I’d say — go for it! That there is some formula that must be followed for making an acceptable yoke is getting stuck on tradition — in my opinion.

That is not to say that there is anything wrong with the traditional ox yoke. In fact, if you have an ox for historical or re-enactment purposes — that would be the way to go.

My second yoke is also experimental in nature and can be seen here:

At this point in time (September 12, 2010) I am very pleased with the way it functions. You can leave your observations, critiques, or opinions by clicking on “comments” under any one of my blog entries. I’d be happy to hear from you.

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