Dad was always a firm believer that the best way to train an animal was real work. As a kid, I always liked to take them out and take them for a walk down the road, and if dad would let me get away with that, that’s what I did. I still tend to do that, but he’s absolutely right: the best thing for training is real work and probably the best real work for them, that I can find, is picking rocks. We’ve got plenty of them around here. You know, you take a stone boat out. We generally kept a horn tie on them if nothing else but an insurance policy, but dad whipped on us very hard to manage the rope correctly.
Twenty four years ago, the students in Tillers International’s Oxen Basics class, enjoying their time together, decided to return the following year as a reunion of sorts, and so the Midwest Ox Drovers Association (MODA) was born, along with its Annual Gathering. The Gathering is held the weekend after Father’s Day at Tillers International in Scotts, MI. A weekend devoted to making new friends and greeting old friends while interacting with working cattle, the Gathering is always a great time. On Saturday night of the Gathering, after dinner, a number of us sat down for a moderated roundtable discussion. I had jotted down a few questions on the proverbial “back of an envelope,” powered-up my recorder, and we were off to the races.