Saturday, January 29, 2011

Did you know?

On October 22, 2009 Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China, gave U.S. President Barack Obama a porcelain sculpture of five oxen that has been valued at $1200.00.

From the Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 11/ Tuesday, January 18, 2011
President Hu Jintao and President Obama

Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 24, 2011

Watering the Ox: How Much Water Will a Yearling Steer Drink?

My online blogger friend Chuck (for whom oxen hold spiritual significance,) signs off on his weekly blog-cast Friday Night Oxen with "Have a nice weekend, in service to the Oxen."

I sometimes think of that and smile when carrying water, feeding hay, or forking manure in the wee hours of the morning --- or late at night. Keeping an ox is not entirely a practical matter. But it sure is fun! Especially when the temperature dips below zero to -35 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind is blowing. (Tongue frozen in cheek.)  Just think, I might be at the health club laboring away on a treadmill and getting nowhere --- while inhaling the smell of somebody's sweaty socks.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Minnesota Winter: An Ox in a Snowstorm

Scout the Ox, an Ayrshire Steer with Horns
Minnesota Winter Snowstorm
"If I might say...."

Scout the Ox, an Ayrshire Steer with Horns
Minnesota Winter Snowstorm
..  "'s a bit blustery."

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Leading the Single Ox

Leading the Single Ox: Advantages and Disadvantages

The single ox is more prone to go astray due to distraction than a team of oxen. Leading the ox all but eliminates the straying problem. Leading also eliminates a lot of guess work for the ox. By being led he understands exactly what it is you want him to do.

Not being in the enviable position to work together daily, leading also makes up for the lack of daily reinforcement of the Gee and Haw commands.

One day I was leading Scout the Ox and we were crossing a ditch at the top of which the snow was very deep. I was getting stuck in the deep snow and unable to go any further when to my surprise he got his horns under me and boosted me up onto solid ground. Now that's teamwork!

One downside to leading is an occasional horn in the back. I'm planning to make a longer lead stick for the times when leading seems the best option, and I will also continue to drive him from the side or behind when working on the road or in open country.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ox Checks Out Camera

Curious as a cow, Scout the Ox investigates the stationary camera. In hindsight, the results were predictable.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Making Firewood With an OX and a Dog: Day 2

Scout the Ox started easily on this cold and windy day. No block-heaters or jumper cables to deal with. We got out several small loads of firewood. I have switched from the wagon to a sled, and have replaced the lead rope with the broomstick.

Haltering and Hitching the Ox: A Two Act Play

I set everything up for an unflawed demonstration of haltering and hitching the ox to a sled, but everything didn't exactly go as planned! To start with Harry the Dog stole Scout the Ox's collar --- and wouldn't give it back--- Scout the Ox took over from there. It all turned out to be a bit of a yoke. 

PitambarTheRedBull commented on YouTube
Loved it! Made me smile!

I have no association with eNasco nor do I endorse this particular halter. I have done business with this company and have been a satisfied customer
This type of rope and sliding chain cattle halter has been an excellent training tool. It offers some control by tightening around the nose when the ox-in-training resists. Once the animal complies, a gentle shake of the rope relieves the tension as a reward for correct behavior. Rough or indiscriminate use would constitute aversive behavior training, or even cruelty, and is to be avoided.
As Scout the Ox's training progresses I use this halter less and less. In a work situation I prefer a standard nylon web halter. The ox should be controlled primarily with the gentle guidance of the whip or goad --- not by tugging on the halter. Playing tug-of-war with an ox sets you up for failure.
With teams of oxen the halter should be removed as soon as reasonable control makes that possible. With the single oxen, in complicated working situations, the halter may continue to be a desirable tool for communication and to help him overcome distractions. Some teamsters would maintain, however, that the ultimate goal should be to eliminate the use of any halter.
The yoke pictured in the video is highlighted in this previous post.
The broomstick used in place of a lead rope is highlighted in this previous post. It has been a valuable training aid, and when it's unsnapped from the ox it doubles as a goad.
Posted by Picasa

Scout the Ox: Can You Come Out and Play Now?

Scout the Ox managed to pop the latch on the pasture gate. He didn't wander away, but rather, came to our front door to see what was happening. He voiced his arrival, and I have little doubt but that he would have come right in if the door had been open.

Here's a video of a Pitambar the Red Bull who lives on a distant tropical island.  He is being trained as an ox. In this clip he is allowed a visit in the house --- but don't tell the the lady's husband! 
Posted by Picasa