26 August 2011



Rich Ciotola farms with ox power in Massachusetts. Check out This New York Times Article to learn more.

The signs of a good ox are are, thick, soft, smooth, short hair; short thick head; glossy smooth horns; large shaggy ears; wide forehead; full black eyes; wide nostrils; black lips; thick, fleshy neck; large shoulders; broad reins; large belly; thick rump and thighs; strait back; long tail, well covered with hair; and short, broad hoofs. 

The best colors are brown, dark red, and brindled

Young steers, intended for labor, should be early yoked, and taught to draw; for if this be delayed till they have attained considerable growth, they are more difficult to break. They should be moderately worked at first with old oxen, till they have acquired sufficient strength, and become inured to work. 

When worked much in wet weather, let the part of the yoke that presses against the breast and neck, be well rubbed with tallow, to prevent causing soreness. 

When an ox is eight years old, he should be turned off to fatten; and to promote his fatting, let a little blood be taken from him. If kept longer, his flesh will not be so good. 

The stronger ox should be unyoked first, as he is apt to be unruly, while unyoking his mate.
[Maine Farmer's Almanac]

Green Mountain College students mowing hay with oxen (photo link)


Before horse power became popular in the Agrarian Nation, farmers used oxen. Even early into the 1900s many New England farms still utilized ox power. In the post-cheap-oil future that lies before us, oxen will once again be an important part of agriculture.

Long ago and far away (Northern Vermont, 1977) I was a student at The Sterling School (now called Sterling College). The school had two oxen, Bonnie & Red. I had some opportunity to work with them and it was a wonderful experience. I've been particularly fond of oxen ever since.

Check out this 1924 film clip on YouTube showing oxen at work in England....

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Anonymous said...

Ha ha I was just watching one of the videos "farming in fathers day" I was watching it without turning on the sound and realized halfway through that my mind was adding the sounds of the farm machinery!!!! Does this mean I have spent to much time on the John Deere running the baler lately?? Karen

Unknown said...

I know that in these parts (Nova Scotia, Canada) the Ox was actively being used by commercial farmers until the early 70's. Some of the guys running Ox at the competitions are the same guys that used to use them on the farm.

Anonymous said...

I read the article from your link. I was surprised the farmers don't use dehorning paste on the boys when they are babies - maybe they received them after they were too old for it to work??

I've been following every post. Thanks for this project.

Jennifer in western NC