Category Archives: Oxen

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but you’d be amazed how hard it can be to convince the animals of this.

The calves and the sheep have separate accommodations in the evening, but go out to graze together in the morning.

Yesterday I opened up a small field that had just finished a good rest and was flush with clover. The critters would have eventually found it on their own, but it’s just good practice for me to move them. The calves are learning commands, and I like to give the sheep good reasons to come when I call them.

The boys did not want to go. They only recently have been weaned off morning milk and oats in favor of me having time to move them to fresh pasture in the morning. They kept mooing at me and at the barn and trying to turn back around. Once we got where we were going though, they stopped dead in the gate, front feet on the good grass, back feet on the old grass, and started eating. Seems I’d been right after all about where the good eats were…

The sheep had been roaming far off and would be a long time in coming, so I went on with my other chores, which put me outside the corner of the fence. When the sheep finally came, they made a beeline for me, and got stuck in the corner. “No sheep, you just passed the gate, go back! See, that one’s gone in, follow her!” I had to go around, and get it all sorted out. They were quite happy tearing up great mouthfuls of clover when I left for church.

First Yoking

Two calves in a red yoke facing their teamster.
First time yoked, they did pretty well.

Thanks to Vicki Solomon of Evergreen Oxen for loaning us the yoke and taking the picture, and to the folks of Western NY Oxen who encouraged me to put this little gathering together.  John Deer and Case did well, although I myself made some mistakes.  They’re well on their way to becoming useful members of the Eddy Ridge team.

Welcome John Deere and Case

Deer and Chase
John Deere and Case, their first night at Eddy Ridge Grassland

We’re hoping two years from now these guys will be competent “handy steers” who will help us put up hay.  In five years they’ll get the proud title of “oxen” and be capable of heavier work.  But for today their job is being babies, drinking milk and enjoying grooming, and getting used to life.

Deer is a week old, Case was born just over a day ago, his navel was still wet when I picked him up yesterday.  They are close relatives, and hopefully will grow up in sync to be a well balanced team.

Thanks to breeder Jason DeMay of Towpath farm for getting us off to a great start, and all my other farmer friends that have been advising me on my first calves.