Friday, February 8, 2013
The oxen have worked four out of the last five days. Big jobs like moving hay, small stuff like moving tools and equipment, pulled a tree down that was hung up on another tree and hauled a stack of hog panels out of the woods where a neighbor had disassembled a pig pen. When they are working like this they get good. The mud was so bad that the sledge was sunk up to the floorboards with average size round bales on it. They did it perfectly, putting everything where I wanted it, never faltering. It had to have been tough going. I had to use two of them to pull the hay rings out of the mud. Loading the bales, George and James had to hold them in place because otherwise they would roll off the sledge; never a mistake. Yesterday, pulling the hog panels down, it was an obstacle course, threading their way through the trees with twelve sixteen foot panels behind them. We never even brushed a tree.
When we have done something like this, George in particular watches me until I tell him he did a good job. His body is tense. The others do it too, but it is less pronounced. They don't relax until I reassure them that they did it well. I find myself wondering if all my oxen were like this and I just was too dumb to see it. This bunch really works for praise and reassurance. That may be the key to working any animal.
Posted by Gerry Barker at 1:27 PM