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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Oxen
Oxen

Tim holding grandson Bo Timothy Todd. We are hauling firewood with single Durham ox, Duke.

Oxen

by Tim Huppe of Farmington, NH

I grew up on a small family farm in Farmington, New Hampshire. My father worked off the farm during the week and my mother, in the early years, was a stay at home mom. Dad kept a small herd of beef cattle and replacement heifers. We had a family cow and hand milked her twice a day. There was always a pair of working cattle for use in the woods. We raised two hogs each year. One for our freezer and the other to sell. We kept laying hens and raised meat rabbits. There was usually a horse or pony for us kids to ride or drive. Our garden was large. My mother filled several cellar shelves with home canned goods. Also, in the cellar, were two ten gallon crocks filled with salt pork, a couple hundred pounds of potatoes, a barrel of cider, apples, and several cords of firewood. We made our own hay.

I was interested in working steers from a very young age. Before I bought my first pair of bull calves, I trained a couple of pairs of replacement heifers to work in the yoke. Dad was fine with this. When it was time to sell the heifers they were quiet and good on a halter.

Oxen

Tim’s granddaughter Lindsay Bronnenberg driving Durham oxen, Mike and Jake, at Sanborn Mills Farm.

It was easy for a kid to get a part time job working on a farm on my road. Within two miles of my house there were four farmers shipping milk, a large commercial orchard and vegetable operation, a Christmas tree plantation, commercial lowbush blueberry fields, and a wholesale plant grower.

I worked at the largest dairy, on the farm and on the milk delivery route. I also worked for the wholesale plant grower and the Christmas tree grower. Many of these farmers had kids my age. We had pick-up ball games, were in the same 4-H club, went to the country fairs together, attended church youth group, camped and fished, and much more. And of course, every farm had a pond to swim in. My neighbor friend once said to me, “I grew up thinking that every road was like ours.” I guess I did as well.

Oxen

Tim demonstrating the basic commands to students at an oxen workshop held at Ferrum College in Virginia. This handsome, well trained pair of Durham oxen reside at the college.

I started buying and pairing up my own bull calves. I worked my teams on the farm and competed at the fairs. As a member of the New Hampshire 4-H Working Steer program I was making friends from across the state and throughout New England, most who had a similar story to my own. In fact, one of the friends I met at the fairs is my wife of 37 years. Ox teamsters, 4-H club leaders, parents, and others invested countless hours building the foundation of the working steer program so that it would last for many years.

Oxen

Tim’s granddaughters, Lorin and Lindsay Bronnenberg, standing with their brother Luke’s team between show classes at the Sandwich Fair in N.H. The twin Holsteins names are Star and Bright.

The culture of the ox was rich across New England. On my road alone there were several good ox men for me to learn from, and many more in the surrounding area. Even the men who were too old to still be working cattle, would give of their time telling us stories of when working cattle was economically practical. I remember stories of oxen hauling cordwood to the brickyards, hauling loads of White Birch bolt wood to the turning mill and returning with wood ash to be spread on the hay fields. They described in great detail about teams and four ox hitches hauling saw logs to the portable mills. They shared exciting stories of oxen possessing more than average power and stamina, greater than average girth, high levels of training and abilities, and much more. And even more interesting, was the often times colorful descriptions of the teamsters that trained, worked, and competed with the ox teams.

Oxen

Tim’s grandson Levi Bronnenberg watching the action at the 2017 Draft Animal Powered Field Days held at the Cornish Fairgrounds in N.H.

After more than 45 years, the New England 4-H Working Steer program is still producing good teamsters and good young adults. And of course much credit needs to go to the individuals who continue to compete in open showing and pulling contests at the country fairs for doing their part to keep the culture alive. If not for them, not only would the excellent level of performance cease to exist, but I fear the use and the culture of the ox would be all but gone.

Oxen

Tim’s grandson, Luke Bronnenberg, in the early phases of training his current team of Durham calves, Walker and Ranger, at his home.

Credit needs to also go to the individuals who cared so much about the culture of the ox that they spent many hours researching and writing down credible and at times nearly forgotten information to be shared through their books.

Sadly, the majority of the teamsters, who once worked cattle on the farms, on the road, and in the woods for financial benefit have long since passed on.

Oxen

Tim’s grandson Luke with his team of five-year old Durham oxen Huck and Finn. They are standing in front of the woodpile at Sanborn Mills Farm.

Myself, and others of my generation who were fortunate enough to have worked beside these men and women, learned from them, sat on a bale of hay and listened to the true life stories and the legends, have a certain responsibility to pass on the information. If not us, then who?

I am a teamster, a father and grandfather of teamsters, a former 4-H Working Steer Program member and leader, an ox yoke maker, a builder of draft animal equipment, and now, a teacher.

Oxen

This covered bridge was built by the Graton family of New Hampshire. The Graton’s have been building and restoring covered bridges throughout the country for three generations. Arnold Graton Sr. is manning the rope at the capstan. Tim is driving the Sanborn Mills Farm team, Mike and Jake. The bridge was drawn across a gap that separated the parking lot from the sports fields at Kennet High School in North Conway, N.H. This event was held in 2015. The Graton’s have used oxen to draw covered bridges on fifteen occasions. The Durham’s, Mike and Jake, now reside at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont. They play a large role in the college’s draft animal program.

I have been a member of the staff at Sanborn Mills Farm since 2005. Due to the generosity and dedication of the SMF founders, Colin and Paula Cabot, we have the opportunity to share the culture and teach the skills for training and working cattle and building draft animal equipment. We have assembled not only an experienced staff of ox and draft horse teamsters and instructors, but also a talented group of wood crafters, blacksmiths, millers, and millwrights, farmers, ornamental horticulturists, and more.

Oxen

Tim’s daughter Danielle Newell teaching basic commands to students during the 2017 Oxen Basics course at Sanborn Mills Farm. The oxen are five-year old Durham’s named Huck and Finn.

The use of draft animals goes well beyond the boundaries of New England. And so does the desire for information on the subject.

I hope that by sharing with you a bit of my background you will have an understanding of what fuels my desire and sense of responsibility to pass on the information and the skills that were so generously passed on to me and my ‘oxen world’ contemporaries.

Oxen

Danielle Newell stands with Huck and Finn after demonstrating the backing of an ox cart load with firewood into the shed during the 2018 “Oxen on the Farm and in the Garden” workshop, held at Sanborn Mills Farm.

When I teach individuals the technical skills of husbandry, training, and working with cattle, I play a role in opening the door for them to become part of a culture that is so important in our lives.

Oxen

Tim’s daughter Marissa Huppe with her two-year old Holstein steers Hank and Willy. The sugar shack is behind her home in Hardwick, Vermont.

Please reach out to us and let us know what we can do to help you with your draft animal program. You can sign up for one of our many workshops, or we can customize training sessions to fit your needs and schedule. – Tim Huppe

Oxen

Spotlight On: Equipment & Facilities

SmP Hellmans Logging Equipment for Horse Traction

HELLMANS Logging Equipment for Horse Traction

The trials showed that lifting the log from the ground, either at the front and/or at the rear, by adapted equipment during the logging, has great benefits concerning the required tractive effort of the horse. Furthermore, it was found that wheeled equipment can be extremely advantageous, this not just for increasing the efficiency of the logging operation, but also for the horse’s comfort at work.

John Deere Side Delivery Rake No 594

John Deere Side Delivery Rake No. 594

from issue:

When starting a new side rake, turn the reel by hand to be sure it revolves freely and the teeth do not strike the stripper bars. Then throw the rake in gear and turn the wheel by hand to see that the tooth bars and gears run free. Breakage of parts, which causes serious delay and additional expense, can be avoided by taking these precautions before entering the field.

Between Ourselves & Our Land

Between Ourselves & Our Land

by:
from issue:

Since being introduced to the straddle row cultivator last year in hilling our potatoes, I have been excited to experiment with different tools mounted under the versatile machine. Like the famed Allis Chalmers G or Farmall Cub my peers of the internal combustion persuasion utilize on their vegetable farms, this tool can help maximize efficiency in many ways on the small farm.

New Idea Manure Spreaders

New Idea Manure Spreaders

from issue:

There is no fixed method of loading. The best results are usually obtained by starting to load at the front end, especially in long straw manure. To get good results do not pile any manure into the cylinders. The height of the load depends upon the condition of the manure, the condition and nature of the field. Do not put on extra side boards. Be satisfied with the capacity of the machine and do not abuse it. Overloading will be the cause of loss of time sooner or later.

McD Lime Spreader

Parts lists and illustrations are included in this comprehensive overview

Living With Horses

Living With Horses

by:
from issue:

The French breed of Ardennes is closer to what the breed has been in the past. The Ardennes has always been a stockier type of horse, rude as its environment. Today the breed has dramatically changed into a real heavy horse. If the Ardennes had an average weight between 550 and 700kg in the first part of the last century, the balance shows today 1000kg and more. Thus the difference between the Ardennes and their “big” sisters, the Brabants in Belgium, or the Trait du Nord in France, has gone.

Cole One Horse Planters

Cole One Horse Planters

by:
from issue:

The most populous single horse planting tools were made by Planet Junior. But they were by no means the only company producing these small farm gems. Most manufacturers included a few models and some, like Planet Junior, American and Cole specialized in the implement. What follows are fourteen different models from Cole’s, circa 1910, catalog. We published ten of these in volume 30 number three of Small Farmer’s Journal.

Ask A Teamster Perfect Hitching Tension

Ask A Teamster: Perfect Hitching Tension

In my experience, determining how tight, or loose, to hook the traces when hitching a team can be a bit challenging for beginners. This is because a number of interdependent dynamics and variables between the pulling system and the holdback system must be considered, and because it’s ultimately a judgment call rather than a simple measurement or clear cut rule.

Step Ahead Horse Progress Days 2016

Step Ahead: 23rd Annual Horse Progress Days 2016

by:
from issue:

I had only been to Horse Progress Days once before, at Mount Hope, Ohio in 2008. It had been an eye-opener, showing how strong and in touch with sustainable farming values the Amish are, and how innovative and sensible their efforts could be. So at the 23rd annual event in Howe, Indiana, I was there partly looking for signs of continuity, and partly for signs of change. Right off I spotted an Amish man with a Blue Tooth in his ear, talking as he walked along.

McCormick-Deering Tractor Disc Harrow No. 10-A

McCormick-Deering Tractor Disc Harrow No. 10-A

Small to mid-sized disc-harrows are a most useful tillage implement. Some farmers consider them indispensable. Discs such as the McD 10-A may be used with either tractors or big hitches of work horses. This tool will cut both plowed and unplowed ground. Ahead of the moldboard plow, the disc harrow is a valuable tool to cut up and free tough sod. When employed in tandem with spring tooth harrows, a great deal of work can be accomplished in much less time.

Shed and Barn Plans

Below is a short piece from Starting Your Farm, by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller. Click the links below to see Chapter One of Starting Your Farm and to view the book in our online bookstore. “You may have purchased a farm with a fantastic set of old barns and sheds. You, on […]

Blacksmith Forge Styles

Blacksmith Forge Styles

from issue:

Blacksmith Forge Styles circa 1920.

Timber Wagon

Timber Wagon: The ÖSTERBY SMEDJA SV5 Forwarder

New equipment for draft horse use in silviculture (growing trees) is commercialized in Sweden at present by five companies, mainly specialized in forwarders and logging arches. This equipment is primarily adapted to the needs of forest enterprises in Scandinavia. Thus the forwarders are designed for short and small wood, for loading via hydraulic crane or an electric winch, or for manual loading without tools. This equipment is also adapted to the local topographical conditions. The rocky forests require strong off-road capabilities.

Geiss New-Made Hay Loader

Gies’ New-Made Hayloader

by:
from issue:

I was sitting on a 5 gallon bucket staring at the hayloader. I had a significant amount of time and money invested. My wife, the great motivating influence in my life, walked up and asked what I was thinking. I was thinking about dropping the whole project and I told her so. She told me that it had better work since I had spent so much money and time on it already. She doesn’t talk that way very often so I figured I had better come up with a solution.

Homemade Cheese Press

Homemade Cheese Press

by:
from issue:

On the Gies farmstead we occasionally wallow in goat milk. From it we make our own butter, yogurt and cheese as well as drink some. This has prompted me to build a little cheese press to help with the extra milk. The press is made from inexpensive 1/2 inch thick plastic cutting boards used for the top and bottom plates and pressure disks, white pvc pipe, and a plastic floor drain cap.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 1

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 1

by:
from issue:

For the last ten years, I have made hay mostly with a single horse. This has not necessarily been out of choice, as at one time I had hoped to be farming on a larger scale with more horses. Anyway, it does little good to dwell on ‘what if ’. The reality is that I am able to make hay, and through making and modifying machinery, I probably have a better understanding of hay making and the mechanics of draught.

Build Your Own Butter Churn

Build Your Own Butter Churn

by:
from issue:

Fresh butter melting on hot homemade bread… Isn’t that the homesteader’s dream? A cheap two-gallon stock pot from the local chain store got me started in churn building. It was thin stainless steel and cost less than ten bucks. I carted it home wondering what I might find in my junk pile to run the thing. I found an old squirrel cage fan and pulled the little motor to test it. I figure that if it could turn a six-inch fan, it could turn a two-inch impeller.

Fjordworks Plowing the Market Garden

Fjordworks: Plowing the Market Garden Part 1

In a horse-powered market garden in the 1- to 10-acre range the moldboard plow can still serve us very well as one valuable component within a whole tool kit of tillage methods. In the market garden the plow is used principally to turn in crop residue or cover crops with the intention of preparing the ground to sow new seeds. In these instances, the plow is often the most effective tool the horse-powered farmer has on hand for beginning the process of creating a fine seed bed.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT