Monday, December 31, 2012

Scout the Ox Meets His Match

When dogs are presented with a mirror they don't seem to take notice of themselves. I was curious as to whether Scout the Ox would take notice of himself.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Babe the Blue Ox Pavilion: Minnesota History Center

Head to the Then Now Wow exhibit's new "Babe the Blue Ox Pavilion" for hands on history and a live performance. Watch a world premiere play about Paul Bunyan and make your own Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox to take home. Free with History Center admission.

Dates: Dec. 28, 2012, Dec. 30, 2012, Dec. 31, 2012

Time: noon to 4 p.m.

Fee: $11 adults, $9 seniors and college students, $6 children ages 6-17; free for children age 5 and under and MHS members.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Scout the Ox Picking Wild Rose Hips - Funny!

Scout the Ox supplementing his all hay, winter diet with wild rose hips. (Rose hips contain more Vitamin C than oranges!) That ox tongue and those lips were really made to do the job. As you watch remember that rose bushes are thorny affairs.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oxen on Parade in Boston, Massachusetts

Regular parade on Washington Street.
Leslie Jones, 1886-1967 (photographer)
Date created: 1942 (approximately)
 Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection
Some rights reserved

There's a lot to see in this archived photo! The camera man, Leslie Jones, worked for the  Boston Herald-Traveler newspaper, between the years 1917 and 1956, so likely the location is Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Notice the diamond willow whip handle and the horn knobs. The oxen appear to be wearing shoes.

This photo is the correct size for a standard computer screen. It would make a nice desktop wallpaper-background.
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Leslie Jones Photo: Yoke of Oxen

Man with team of oxen hitched to wagon. 
Eastern United States
Photographer: Leslie Jones,  (1886-1967)
Free desktop wallpaper, oxen. Free desktop background, oxen.
Fits widescreen monitor.
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Smiling Teamster with Yoke of Oxen

Farmer with team of oxen pulling empty hay wagon.
Eastern United States
Photographer: Leslie Jones, (1886-1967)

Free desktop background: oxen. Free desktop wallpaper: oxen.
Fits standard computer screen.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Southern Teamster Hauling Logs With Oxen

Logging with oxen in southeastern USA forest.
Teamster's name, the location and date are unknown.
 Link to original archived photo.
Forest Service,
Southern Research Station
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Training the Ox to Back-Up for Hitching

Gee or Haw, Back, and Whoa are commands used while hitching or unhitching an ox to a log for skidding. I have a number of trees to move from a wetland. This makes for a lot of repetitions which are great for training. At this stage of his training I'm asking the ox to make at least two steps back each time he hitches. He is accustomed to responding to the reins for left and right turns, and for stopping. So backing a few steps with a sustained tug on the reins comes fairly natural for him. I use a standard nylon cattle-halter without a cinch-chain, bit, or nose-ring, and as you can see in the video he is very responsive to that.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Double Yoke of Oxen

Double Yoke of Oxen
Seaford, Delaware, USA  c1910
Published by W.H. Hall of Shipley & Hall
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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sleek Yoke of Oxen

Sleek Yoke of Oxen Pulling Loaded Ox-Cart
This is an unidentified photo, from an antique glass negative "found in a barn." My uninformed guess is that it could be a load of sugarcane in the ox cart. Anyone care to venture a guess at the region where the photo may have been taken?  Click on "comments" below to share your thoughts.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

"Vrachtrijder" With Ox Cart Load of Wooden Shoes

De Vrachtrijder
Oxcart load of wooden shoes.
The picture was likely taken in southern Netherlands. "De Vrachtrijder" translates roughly as "The Truckdriver."

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Refitting the Ox Yoke

Using carpenter's chalk to identify pressure points, I file the yoke to re-size it for a comfortable fit on the growing ox. I would like the pressure to be distributed evenly over the entire yoke seat.

Scout the Ox is just over three years old.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ox Logging: Fitting and Using a Single Yoke

Tim Harrigan has just posted this instructional video on his TMHarrigan You Tube Channel.  He uses a traditional yoke for his single ox, Will,  and presents in the video concise and helpful information on fitting the yoke, britchen, and chains. Be sure to visit his channel and "like" his video.

To see blog posts on the making and fitting of Scout the Ox's most recent single yoke, (click here).

To see a blog post of the making and fitting of Scout the Ox's previous single yoke/collar combination click  (here) and (here).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Drinking Water Delivered by Ox Cart

"The water-cart;" 1856 Illustrated London News; Engraved by W. Thomas; Painted by Troyon

Postcard; c.1912-1918;  

Mexican children; Creator: Horne, Walter H., 1883-1921 Date: ca. 1910-1917. Water cart and donkey, Chihuahua; Creator: Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942 Date: ca. 1882-1897. Digitally altered photos; Source of original photos:  Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries,
DeGolyer Library (click link)

"Fountain At Cintra Near Lisbon" Ox Cart, Portugal. 1883 Illustrated London News. W. H. Overend artist

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Lesson to Learn from Costa Rican Teamster’s Tragedy

Tuesday morning, October 30th a Costa Rican man hauling sugar cane, with a team of oxen, stumbled and fell in the cane field. It is believed he tripped on crop residue from the previous sugar cane harvest. Another man working nearby called out for the oxen to stop but they continued --- running over  Bertilio Quiros, age 72. He died at the scene with wounds to the head, chest, and limbs.

A daughter described  Bertilio as a humble man who loved his work as a teamster. He was a loving father and grandfather. Our sympathies go to Bertilio’s family and friends.

Those of us who work with oxen (and “reitkuhs!”) may tend to become mesmerized by their usually gentle and affectionate natures. Bertilio’s accident is a good, though tragic, reminder of our oxen’s size, weight, and strength, and that oxen may not comprehend the significance of the consequences of their actions. I am reminded of finding dead sheep around the base of our hay feeders because their herd-mates were standing on top of them while they ate. The offending sheep were not cognizant of their actions and it is doubtful Bertilio’s oxen were cognizant of their’s either.

I mentioned “reitkuhs” (“reitkuh” is German for riding cows — riding cows and “springenkuhs” (jumping cows) seem to be a phenomenon of a few young German girls, especially those who live on dairy farms). I've seen several pictures of these smiling girls lying beneath their cows with their faces protruding between the cows front legs (click here to see one Die Kuhreiterin at 1:29 seconds. While the trust these kids have in their cows is admirable, I do fear for their safety.

It could be dangerous to anthropomorphize about our cows or oxen. While a cow may have a natural instinct not to step on it’s calf, I do not believe she would have an understanding of the possible consequences of a misplaced step on her young friend and trainer.

I know the only understanding that Scout the Ox has of the consequences of stepping on my toe is that it makes me holler — and he gets an elbow jabbed in his side!

With these thoughts in mind I’m glad I have trained Scout the Ox to long reins — so I can walk behind him while working. I’m also glad he responds well to “whoa.”  While I’d like to think he would  not step on me if I fell in his path, I’m not prepared to bet my life on it.

Source links:, and  buewabewerber - You Tube

Monday, October 29, 2012

Skidding Trees with Single Ox Under Yoke

We skidded some small hybrid poplar trees out of the woods Saturday (October 27, 2012). The PVC pipe on the chains protects the ox's legs. The log chain is attached to the center of the evener.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Eager Ox, Ox-Cart Ride; Country Roads, Lakes, and Farms

Scout the Ox sets a fast pace. His constant companion, Harry the Dog, accompanies us as we explore some back roads and meet some horses and cattle. The location is northwestern Minnesota, USA.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Standard Poodle "Oliver's" Ox Cart Adventures


My ox cart is antique. To prevent the strength of the ox from breaking it, I connect the pull-chains to the ox yoke with lightweight S-hooks. If the cart hangs up on something the S-hooks straighten out and release the cart. This occasionally leaves me in a predicament. In this video the water crossing was deeper and steeper than I expected.

Oliver the visiting Standard Poodle was determined to "stay with the sinking ship." What was he thinking?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Controlling Thistles on Pasture

By using a brush saw thistles can be selectively clipped.  This gives the grass a competitive advantage.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Twin Sisters with Oxen Teams at Skowhegan Fair

(click  Morning Sentinel link below)
 Morning Sentinel

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Clearcut Regrowth

Last winter I clear-cut an area of poplar using Scout the Ox to haul the wood (click here). This is a picture of part of the vigorous regrowth on July 6th, 2012, just six months later. The clear-cutting of poplar is part of the forest management plan. Tree regrowth is beneficial for wildlife.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Historic Pembina "Ox Cart" Trail

Experience a day on the historic Pembina Trail, otherwise known as The Woods Trail, one of the many branches of the Red River Ox Cart Trails. The trade route traditionally carried furs and buffalo hides from the Red River Colony (Selkirk) on the long journey to St. Paul, Minnesota. The ox cart trains consisted of several to hundreds of carts. The ox cart teamsters were a  colorful mix of peoples, primarily Metis, who are themselves of mixed race. Portions of the Woods Trail still exist in Red Lake County, Minnesota, near Huott and Dorothy. That is where I made this day trip by oxcart to capture a taste of what life on the trail might have been like. A follow-up video chronicles our stop at Old Crossing Treaty Park where we went for an evening swim after a hot day on the trail.


Music: Silver Spear
Album: Slainte
Group: Siainte
Source: Free Music Archive

Historical photos I referenced for the digital artwork came from numerous sources, most of which are listed here:
State Historical Society of North Dakota
Manitoba Culture, Heritage & Tourism
Project Gutenberg
Minnesota Historical Society
Library and Archives Canada
McCord Museum of Canadian History
Manitoba Historical Society
The Pageant of America Collection
APTN Digital Nations
Encylcopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America
Minnesota Historical Society
Portage La Prairie Images
Whitney's Gallery

Swimming with the Ox at Old Crossing Treaty Park

Near Huott, Minnesota, the Pembina  Trail, otherwise known as The Woods Trail (one of the major branches of The Red River Ox Cart Trails), crossed the Red Lake River at what is now known as Old Crossing Treaty Park. After a hot, bug ridden day of carting on one of the  remnants of the trail, Scout the Ox, Harry the Dog, and I stopped at the park for a swim in the river. This is the location where oxcarts on the trail forded the river, and it became a well known meeting spot as well. The crossing is rich in history and is home to the annual Chautauqua and French Festival at Old Crossing Treaty Park.

Historical reference photo: State Historical Society of North Dakota

Music: Jig of Slurs
Album: Cup of Tea
Group: Siainte
Source: Free Music Archive

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gee and Haw at the Rice Paddies

 March 31,  2012 we visited the rice paddies.  Scout the Ox turned the cart around on the narrow dike demonstrating his proficiency with the gee and haw commands. (This is from a date earlier this spring because it was lost for a while on a crashed computer.)

Sunset After the Rainbow: Single Ox with Cart

Single Ox with cart; on the prairie at the edge of the Red River Valley, in northwestern, Minnesota.
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Oxcart: To See a Rainbow

While ox-carting on the prairie in northwestern Minnesota, a small storm over the Red River Valley treats us to a rainbow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hope Springs Eternal

Poplar Tree Log Sprouting Shoots

I set this nice poplar log aside when I was cutting firewood last winter. I'm keeping it up on blocks as a possible bolt for a future ox yoke.

In the mean time, it's sprouting branches!
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Harvey Dunn's Painting of Rock Picking with Oxen

[Homesteaders Picking Rock with Team of Oxen]
Artist: Harvey Dunn (1884-1952)

Note to students of art: There is camera distortion in this  representation.

This is likely some of the early work of artist Harvey Dunn. The painting's title is unknown to me, but it certainly looks like homesteaders picking rock on The Great Plains in his home territory of South Dakota.

For more artwork depicting oxen, by Harvey Dunn, click on these three links:

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Picking Rock with Scout the Ox

Picking Rock with Scout the Ox
We're clearing rocks from what is to be a mown firebreak between a prairie-forest edge restoration. The prairie area, on the left in the picture, is to be burned periodically. 
Picking Rock with Scout the Ox
Not long after these photos were taken we had a cloudburst and Scout the Ox took off running for home. He ended up tangled in some trees, turned his yoke upside down, and we all got very wet.
Picking Rock with Scout the Ox
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012