Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To Make a Single Ox Yoke, Part 1

The Old Yoke

Scout the Ox has outgrown his old yoke. The spacing of the bows has become too narrow on his neck, pinching him, and riding up too high on the withers. The top bridge of the yoke has run out of room for enlarging it again (link here) without weakening it. It is time for a new yoke.
Young Ayrshire Ox Pulling Sled in Woods

The old yoke was satisfactory for light duty work during Scout the Ox's training. It was made of readily available dimensional lumber (a discarded stair rail, and a discarded aspen timber.)It appeared awkward, in spite of the fact that it has functioned reasonably well.

Young Ayrshire Ox Hauling Firewood on Woods Trail

In making the yoke, I broke with my own maxim of learning how to do a thing the established way, before going off on my own to find a better way.

The question then begs to be asked "Why not just follow the pattern of a traditional yoke?"

Let me explain.

My use of an ox is recreational, even though I use him for accomplishing work. Oxen, in our part of the world, greatly lack the efficiency of a small tractor or an automobile. So, unless there were no gas, or there were no money, it would be difficult to justify using an ox here for other than recreational work, recreational transportation, historical preservation, or aesthetics.

Part of my recreation is to design and build my own efficient and comfortable yoke using the skills and supplies available to me, on my very small farm here in the 21st century.

Connecting oxen to a load or an implement is an unnatural en-devour. This presents a nice challenge. In the end I may find I have only reinvented the traditional yoke.

This will not be a How-to series of articles as this yoke is to be only my fourth yoke, for my first ox. This series of articles will simply outline my thoughts, at this point, on my steep learning curve. I also hope to document my successes or failures.

Links to past yokes I've used on Scout the Ox.
Just A Rope
Yoke 2: PVC Pipe
Yoke 3 Part 1  Yoke 3 Part 2
Yoke 4

Coming soon! To Make an Ox Yoke, Part 2: The Plan