Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the oxen team



This nearly life-size team of concrete oxen aren't going anywhere. They represent the pioneers who settled this land. A farmer would never be able to put much food on the table without the help of a team of oxen. They were the literal "horsepower" of the age. To see how they appeared in the day visit the site created by E.T. Wickham's grandson.... Wickham's Stone Park.

If you're anywhere near northern Illinois you can learn to drive a real team of oxen at Garfield Farm and Museum. The class is held in the spring of the year and it's probably one of the "Ten Things I Want to Do Before I Die". Size doesn't matter with oxen, they are commanded not by brute strength, but by voice and body movements. It's a fascinating day spent in the country. Contact Garfield Farm for more information. I'd love to come out and take photos of your session with the team.

5 comments:

sugarcreekfarm said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing this. I'm always intrigued by people who have a passion and a creative means of expressing it.

Floridacracker said...

What a neat diploma that would be. How many people can say they know how to drive an oxen team?

Zanne said...

The most interesting student I've seen go through the class was a woman from downtown Chicago. She was definitely a "city gal", not even owning a car. She saw the class mentioned in the Chicago paper and thought it would be an interesting experience, so she took the train out and spent the day driving oxen. She was a teeny tiny thing, not much over 5 ft tall, which just proves the point that voice, attitude and body language is what drives 3,000 of animals. Oh, and a well trained team of course!

UKBob said...

You have some nice pictures on this blog.

Rebecca said...

Oxen are amazing creatures but you can't get the true experience from going to a farm and offering a course where you learn on a pair that is already trained. Yes they will respond to voice and body commands but believe me it takes a lot of bruises and physical training to get them to that point. Anyone can walk in front of a trained pair but you've got to be strong and able to hit the animal in order to get it trained. Most people think that sounds mean but something that weighs 1300 pounds or more doesn't respond to anything but pain.
I am very impressed that this course exists though, it's great that people who never have the chance to go through the real experience could have a taste.