Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All Yoked Up - Ox Team at the Farm

Ox team Jigs and Buckwheat were calves born here on the farm. Farm staff Historic Interpreter Marieanne Coursen has trained and worked with them since they were young. Oxen are trained and used differently than horses. Oxen wear a wooden yoke over the shoulders that harness their massive strength. The pair were put in the first training yoke when 6 months old. They now perform jobs like hauling in our maple sap for sugaring and pulling the cart.
Oxen are trained to work by their drover, who combines voice commands with taps from a switch. Patience and determination are good traits in an ox drover. While less volatile than horses, oxen need constant guidance and direction through voice and body language. There are no reins on an ox team, and your little switch is more suited to getting their attention that forcing compliance. Oxen work for you because you are the head of the team. They either want to please you or resign themselves to the truth that you won’t stop pestering until they do the job at hand.
Watching an ox team back a cart into a barn is a good lesson in perseverance. The oxen know what you want to do, but don’t really like backing into a space they cannot see. Even though they may do the job every day, they know there could be something lurking in there! The drover’s command and presence has to overcome their resistance, and they let the teamster be their eyes as they back the cart into the stall.

1 comment:

  1. Oxen teams are captivating to watch coming down the road hauling the wagon and following the commands of the driver. I enjoyed watching a re-enactment in Nova Scotia a number of years ago and took some photos:


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