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All You Need To Know About Oxen & More
A Bit about the Book by Janine Weins

After Elwood finished speaking with Bradford Perkins, he called Kathy in the Extension Office Library. Bradford had a new team of oxen and wanted information on how to yoke and train the oxen. When Kathy said she had Dr. Drew Conroy's book Oxen: A Teamsters Guide Elwood went down to the library to borrow a copy.

On the way back to his office Elwood read the back cover on which Stephen Taylor, New Hampshire Commission of Agriculture, had written--"Few people, if any, on this planet have the knowledge and understanding of the subject of steers and oxen to compare with that of Drew Conroy. In this book his work in exploring the history of cattle as draft animals, their care and training, and the pure pleasure of learning to be a teamster is gathered into a valuable and enduring record. . . "

Back in his office Elwood thumbed through the pages of Oxen: A Teamsters Guide and noticed the book was packed with photographs, drawings and tables and that the index listed nineteen chapters. The first chapter was "Selecting the Ideal Team." The last two chapters were "Oxen History" and "International Development." In between there were chapters on "Yoke Styles," "Competing with Oxen," "Hoof Care," "Hitching Options" and "Logging with Oxen."

Elwood was thinking of his grandfather who used to spend long winter days making yokes when he noticed that Chapter 9 was called, "Making a Neck Yoke and Bows." Turning to page 137 Elwood read about sizing a yoke and the selection of wood. He realized the making of yokes had not changed much from in the last few decades when he read "selecting a tree from the forest is the best option . . . the best woods for an ox yoke are hardwoods that are difficult to split. . .such as black or yellow birch . . .white oak. . . hard maple. . . sassafras . . . cherry" and he saw a photograph of a yoke being shaped with a drawknife. Elwood had more respect for the design of oxen yokes when he read the distance between the oxen was critical "getting the animals too close together increases the chances they will interfere with each other . . . having them too far apart causes them to see-saw back and forth." After looking at the three page--ten picture spread that showed in detail how to yoke a team of oxen Elwood decided he wasn't going to volunteer to yoke Bradford's new oxen.

Impressed with the clarity and completeness of Oxen: A Teamsters Guide Elwood called Bradford and said, "I recommend you get Oxen: A Teamsters Guide. It is packed with all information you need to know about Oxen--training, nutrition, competition and much more."

Drew Conroy

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