Friday, June 24, 2011

Ox Takes Time to Smell the Lady's Slippers

Ox Pulling Cart Spots Showy Lady's Slipper Orchid

Scout the Ox Smells the Native Prairie Flowers

Ayrshire Steer and Minnesota State Flower
Cypripedium reginae
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Just a Little Cowlick

Music: Love Comes - The Posies (Every Kind of Light)

Ox Steps Through Ox Yoke While Grazing

Scout the Ox discovers a minor difficulty when he puts his head down to graze while wearing his yoke. The yoke slid behind his head and as he stepped forward he stepped into the "bow."

Having lifted his feet frequently when he was small, paid off in remedying this situation. Early training of the ox-to-be is invaluable when he has grown too big to be overcome physically. I weighed him on a registered scale over the weekend and he came in at 1400 pounds. He's a year and eight months old and still growing fast.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oxen Yoke: Neck, Withers, or Head? Ox Collar

An ox yoke is in it’s most basic definition a piece of wood that transfers power from an ox or oxen into work for mankind. The iconic yoke connects two oxen together for this purpose. Yokes occur in a continuum of designs along which three notable stops are head yokes, neck yokes and withers yokes. A large number of variations have been used based on local needs, resources and customs. The ox collar is an aberration from the traditional yoke but accomplishes the same basic function.

Neck Yoke
The neck yoke is the "traditional" ox yoke of the United States. As the name suggests the yoke rests on the oxen's neck. The beam is held in place by the oxbows.

Withers Yoke
The withers yoke is used with Bos indicus oxen.
Bos indicus oxen have a prominent hump over their withers, against which the oxyoke rests. There is usually a rope or other light fastener that loops under the neck to hold the yoke in place, but the fastner does not  transfer power from the ox to the pole or chain. This particular withers yoke is attached to a wagon pole by lashing it with a rope.  

Head Yoke
Head yokes are secured to the oxen's horns and/or forhead; that lashing transfers the power from the oxen to the yoke, which in turn transfers the power to the work. Headyokes must be carefully fitted to the individual ox. 
Ox Collar
The ox collar does not quite fit the definition of an ox yoke, but it is yet another way to transfer power from the ox to the work at hand. See also: A Horse Collar Doth Not an Ox Collar Make

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jersey Steer Begins Cart Training as an Ox

Anuttama says Makani is a little over a year and a half old and weighs about 1050lbs.

She commented on my video, Hip-Hop Back to the Drawing Board in which Scout's early version of an ox yoke fell apart:

"I just hooked my little boy for the first time today and he was so good. Then we also had an incident: he slipped, fell on his side and broke a shaft! But he wasn't hurt and didn't freak out. I had to unharness him to get him up but then we reharnessed and pulled a drag so that the last thing that happened was good. Your Scout seems sensible, too."

Scout continues to amaze me with his lack of panic in surprising experiences.

Certainly for training on a light cart like this, the horse collar is working well. As you can see in the video they have turned the collar upside-down to make for an improved fit. It is recommended by ox drovers much more experienced than me, however, that a horse collar not be used for heavier work; the ox is likely to be uncomfortable and could develop sores. See also: A Horse Collar Doth Not an Ox Collar Make.

Thanks Anuttama for sharing your video on YouTube. We'll be watching for a progress report on Makani. Happy carting!

Bird Song, Ox Training, and Dog

Pulling the wagon through a variety of terrain was good training for Scout the Ox. It provided different experiences, and minor mishaps, all of which make him a more adaptable and cool headed beast-of-burden. Harry the Dog added a bit of light- heartedness; the sounds of nature and the Spring greenery provided a pleasant backdrop. The video is a little long, and more contemplative than instructional. In the opening clip notice the small tree in the forground as the ox cart passes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Oxen Training: Ground Tying the Single Ox

Here's another job where the ox has replaced my small tractor on my very small farm. I'm using the dirt from gopher mounds in the pasture to fill low spots in the yard and garden. The problem with this kind of work is that the ox being a grazing animal wants to keep stepping forward to the next best thing to eat. Out of necessity I learned that if there is nothing to tie him to, I can tie him to the pull chain or the wagon. If he attempts to step forward his nose chain snugs up around his nose.

Adjusting Hitch Point on Adjustable Ox Yoke

It's been in the news that oxen are replacing tractors due to high fuel costs and farmers are turning to YouTube to learn how to drive the oxen! I just heard it on the radio.

Well here it is. I used to move the hayfeeder with the tractor but now it is a job for Scout the Ox. This video clip demonstrates how that the longer the pull chain the greater the likelyhood that the yoke will not stay in place. It also demonstrates how adjusting the hitchpoint will affect the proper functioning of the yoke.

See also: Ox Yoke Malfunctions

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dog and Ox Commune with Pair of Wild Geese

Nesting pair of Canadian Geese

Scout the Ox was intrigued by the honking geese.

Harry the Dog did a pretty good job of pointing.

Canadian goose on pond in Minnesota.

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