Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let It Snow! Let It Snow!: Ox in Winter

Scout the Ox Begins His Second Winter --- With a Smile
The blaze orange ribbon was for safety during hunting season.

Winter for Scout the Ox Means Cozy Nights in the Barn

[Editor's note: Don't tape your ox's horns!  In several weeks time the tape began to deform Scout's rapidly growing horn and was discernible for a long time after.]
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Ox in Training: Hauling Firewood

On a November day when the sky was grey, like the side of a fish, I chunked up a fallen Box Elder tree. After checking out the chainsaw with his usual curiosity, Scout the Ox grazed nearby while Harry the Dog hunted mice in the tall grass.

 We went back for the wagon and Scout the Ox stood patiently while I loaded the two-wheel garden cart that I had converted into a four-wheel wagon by adding the forecart attatchment (see How To Convert a Garden Cart into a Small Wagon to Pull With a Single Ox ).

Scout the Ox pulled the load without difficulty; the cart was a little top-heavy and we did tip it over one time, but otherwise it worked great. I lead him with my lead-stick (see Broomhandle Ox Training Aid because the trail to the woodpile meanders around numerous obstacles, and the like.

The dump function worked well. When we'd get a load to the woodpile I'd trip the dump and have Scout the Ox move the cart ahead. I came back to split and stack the firewood later.

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Hoof Trimming on Yearling Steer: Ox in Training

Before Trimming Hooves, the Medial Claws Rocked Back and Curled In

I posted the following on Riding Steers Forum on October 25th, 2010:
"I brought Scout onto the concrete Saturday and was soo-o discouraged with his front hooves. I was able to get the lateral claws trimmed to stand up pretty good, but the medial claws are so rocked back that all the weight they bear is on the heel. He showed this tendency very young.

This is not uncommon in dairy cattle (I trimmed cattle hooves full time for a couple of years), but, the main reason I bought my calf from the dairy I did, was that they never had hoof problems --- always good solid feet!

Sometimes you can do everything right and still get bad results."

Five Days After Hoof Trimming the Hooves Stand Up Straight 

I'm very pleased with the results of the trimming. Scout is standing up normal now.

Before anyone attempts trimming cattle hooves, I highly recommend study, and hands on training (Practicing on hooves salvaged from a butcher shop is in order). It would be easy to cripple an ox by making trimming mistakes.

Scout the Ox had overgrown hooves at an unusually young age. To see before and after photos of that click Hoof Trimming Calf.

Bennett Buggy, Hoover Wagon: Ox Tows Disabled Lawn Tractor

Towing my lawn tractor back to the shop for repairs reminded me of the Bennett Buggy and the Hoover Wagon of The Great Depression. Folks who had purchased automobiles in the good years before the economic downturn now found that they either couldn't afford gasoline or it wasn't available --- a number of automobiles had their engines removed and were hitched to oxen or horses to provide transportation.

Ox Team pulls 1933 Bennett Buggy, Crescent Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada

Bennett Buggy Pulled by an Ox and Horse Teamed Together. Saskatchewan, Canada

The Bennett Buggy was named after Prime Minister of Canada, Richard Bennett, and the Hoover Wagon was named after the President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. Both served during The Great Depression of the 1930's. I have not found a photo of a Hoover Wagon; does anyone have one?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Demonstration of Chinese Masters Painting Oxen (牛)

If you like art and oxen, this is an interesting video of two skilled Chinese artists at work. Watch the ox appear before your eyes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

World's Slowest Riding-Steer

(riding ox)

張僧繇《十八宿神形圖卷 》 ﹝局部﹞,南梁
The Chinese Tortoise is believed to be the worlds slowest riding-steer (ox). It's slow and steady gait has earned it a reputation for being very dependable transportation.

To learn more about riding-steers join the discussion at http://ridingsteers.freeforums.org/index.php

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How to Write "Cow" or "Ox" in Chinese

Click here for video.

Oxherd Riding on Ox and Playing Flute
Guo Xu, artist
[Chinese, 1456-1526]
Ink on paper

Friday, November 26, 2010

Worlds Largest Oxen in 1930

Worlds Largest Oxen: Mt. Katahdin and Granger

Combined weight 9800 pounds (avg. 4900 pounds each)
Mr. A.S. Rand, breeder
 Stetson, Maine
Photo taken August 24, 1930

Monk's Ox Was Plenty Large

Monk with Single Ox and Cart

The monks at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley used oxen to work on their 530 acres of land in the town of Cumberland R.I. The monks were of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance founded in 1098. After a fire destroyed their abbey in Nova Scotia in 1892 they migrated to R.I. around 1900. I wonder if they brought their oxen with them, as oxen were frequently used in Nova Scotia.

Stone was quarried from the monastary property, by the monks, to erect buildings. Oxen moved materials from place to place and helped with the farming by plowing the fields; hooded monks could be seen laboring in the fields along with the oxen.

They also sold items in their gift shop; I expect that may be the source of the postcards from which this photo of the ox originated. In 1950 much of the monastery was again destroyed by fire. The Cumberland public library now occupies the site of the previous Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley.

Our Faithful Ox: Abby of Our Lady of the Valley, Lonsdale, R.I.
(post cards)
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Durham Ox: How Big Was He?

The calf that became known as the Durham Ox was born in North-East England in 1796. Selective breeding for desirable traits was coming into vogue and beef tallow was in demand; extremely fat cattle were celebrated.

Being a large specimen with desirable characteristics of what would become the Shorthorn breed, the Durham Ox was toured around England riding in a special wagon pulled by four horses. I find nothing on record to suggest he was ever used as a draft animal. Estimates of his weight ran as high as 270 stone (1,715 kilograms or 3,781 pounds).

He dislocated a hip in 1807 while unloading from his wagon. When the hip failed to heal, and the ox was slaughtered (two-months later), he had apparently lost some condition; his carcass weighed in at only 189 stone (1,200 kilograms or 2,646 pounds); still quite a large animal.

The Durham Ox had become so popular that he became the subject of several famous turn-of-the-century paintings, and several English inns and pubs are named after him.

A Durham Ox Dinner Platter
(blue transferware)
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Monday, November 22, 2010

How Big Will a Holstien Riding Steer (or Oxen) Get? Pretty Big!

This is Bovine Beauty's Holstein, steer calf --- Fuzz.

And this is Bovine Beauty with Fuzz at an intermediate date.
As you can see in this more recent photo, at 2.5 years Fuzz has become a substantial riding steer. He is now taller than his trainer.

Bovine Beauty and her steer Fuzz are good at traffic control --- they stop it!

According to Oxen: A Teamster's Guide,  Holstein steers will average 2,500 pounds (1,135 kg.) mature weight. They grow rapidly and are a docile breed.

 To learn more about the use of riding steers, or to join in the riding steers discussion, please visit the Riding Steers Forum. The forum is friendly, free, and open to anyone with an interest in riding steers (bulls, or cows).  Auf Deutsch: reitkuh 
(Bovine Beauty is the screen name for this individual, on the Riding Steers Forum. The above four photos are copyrighted and used here with the copyright owner's permission. Copyright Law applies.)

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Q: Why do Kittens Get Stuck In Trees?

A: Dogs Might Have Something To Do With It.

Squeak the Kitten turned up missing one evening. After it got dark and he still hadn't shown up, I searched the yard with a dim flashlight and couldn't see or hear anything. In the morning before the sun came up I let Harry the Dog out of the pasture (where he spends the night with Scout the Ox) and called "kitty, kitty."  Harry trotted off around the two large-bales, behind the garden, through the brush, and across the backyard to a pine tree --- where he stopped and looked up.
There was Squeak, as seen in the above picture. He'd spent the night in the tree. It was his first time out of the house overnight, and it was cold. Though cats climb trees quite naturally, I've heard they have to be taught by their mothers how to climb back down. Niether Squeak nor Soapy were raised by mother cats. I plucked him from the branch, handed him to Sherry, and rushed off to work.
I don't know if it was Harry the Dog's awesome nose that had come to the rescue, or if he had something to do with getting Squeak up the tree in the first place? (The latter is not hard to imagine!)
The next evening I looked out our window and saw Squeak and Soapy climb up about three feet high on the elm tree, and then climb back down. I guess they had decided it was time to get some practice.   
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Best Roller Coaste-er Ox Cart Ride (Turn u-p the volume!)

Grandson keeps the ox cart ride animated.


(I think he lost a few teeth on that one!)

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Grandaughter's Ox Cart Ride

Training the steer, Scout the Ox, to cross a roadway while pulling
 a very-precious passenger in the cart.

Ox "training" is just another word for having fun!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dog leads Steer - Ox

Harry the Dog has some fun leading Scout the Ox down the drive-way. They invented this interspecies play themselves, one evening last Winter. See photos at http://storybrookeripples.blogspot.com/2010/02/serendipitous.html

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Your Walking Down a Trail and. . . .

. . . .you hear a cowbell. . . .then a steer comes charging around the corner. What's the first thought that comes to mind?

He's a friendly fellow, Scout the Ox. I was sitting cross-legged in the trail when he trotted up to me and stuck his wet nose on my camera lens. When we walk sometimes he gets taken up with grazing and gets left behind. When he realizes he is alone he comes running to find us.