Friday, April 26, 2013

Memorable Things Lost Which were in Use Among the Ancients: Oxen

Below is the title page of book published in 1715 but first issued in 1589.

Below is a quote from the above book.

" . . . .ships, . . . and six oxen within, which by turning an engine stirred the [paddle] wheels. . . . "

This is a related illustration, but from a different book.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oxen Powered Paddlewheelers Used by Romans in Maritime Battles

15th century illustration of  4th or 5th century oxen powered paddlewheeler.

Oxen powered paddle-wheelers were apparently more than just a concept.  Following is the translation of a quote from De Rebus Bellciis, an anonymous 4th or 5th century (A.D.) writing.

“. . . .oxen, yoked in pairs to capstans, turn wheels attached to the sides of the ship; paddles, projecting above the circumference or curved surface of the wheels, beating the water with their strokes like oar-blades as the wheels revolve, work with an amazing and ingenious effect, their action producing rapid motion. . . .” 

The Roman Army is said to have used the oxen powered paddlewheelers on the Mediterranean Sea. The paddle wheels were used in combination with sails. Because of the ship's heavy weight, and it's increased  speed over short distances, the Romans had an advantage over the enemy. By overtaking the enemy they were able to smash their lighter sailing ships with the sturdy bows of the oxen powered paddlewheelers.

The paddlewheelers must have been larger than the fanciful one illustrated above. The oxen would have needed room to get their footing and to travel efficiently around the capstans. The vertical shafted capstans turned whatever machinery was used to transfer the work to the horizontal shafted wheels.

One can imagine the advantage of oxen powered ships if the winds were calm, and the enemies sails were hanging limp.

Oxen consume a lot of hay and fresh water, so the ships must have operated close to home. Large haystacks and water-tanks on board ships would have hampered progress on the open sea.

The Chinese are said to have had a similar invention.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Team of Oxen Battle the Tide in 'The Golden Days'

Vol. XIII—No. 51             November 12, 1892.

Excerpt from

Matt and Natt's Venture

By Wm. Pendleton Chipman


     On examining the heap of seaweed, he became convinced that by loading heavily he could carry what remained in two loads.

        He therefore pitched away until in his judgment half of the heap was upon the cart. It made a big load, but the oxen were stout, and, bending their necks to the yoke, they, at Matt’s command, started slowly off. As he approached the narrow roadway, he noticed the tide had gained rapidly and was now sweeping over it with considerable force and depth.

        Jumping upon the tongue of the cart, he urged his oxen through the tossing waves. To his consternation, the water came well up around the patient animals’ backs, and had he not quickly scrambled to the top of his load he would have been thoroughly drenched.

        The cattle, however, raised their noses high as possible and plunged bravely through the flood, soon emerging on the other side with their load unharmed.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

White on White: Oxen and Apple Blossoms

Team of White Oxen in Apple Orchard
Eastern United States
Photographer: Leslie Jones,  (1886-1967)
We also have white-on-white here in Minnesota today, April 21st, 2013, but unfortunately its neither oxen nor apple blossoms. 
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Snow on the Ground, Spring in the Air

An oxcart ride in Eden Township, Polk County, Minnesota, set to Nature's of Winter music by ChuckBerglund, lyrics, Winter Glow by Emily Richards.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Oxcart Odyssey

Grandkids travel through time and across the universe in an oxcart.

Snow and Ice: Grooming After the Storm

Helping Scout the Ox stay warm by removing the snow and ice in his coat, with a curry-comb.

Preventing Accidental Learning of Undesirable Behaviors

A psychology primer. 

The concept of accidental learning illustrated by Scout the Ox. Preventing undesirable behavior is the key to eliminating the natural reinforcement that would result in accidental learning. Prevention requires seeing in advance what may happen next.