Ox and Oxen

by B&SD
(????)

"Strong as an OX", was a popular phrase used to refer to people thought to be strong.

Oxen are quiet and unassuming animals that give back far more than they take. They are willing to work long hours with a comparitively small amount of feed and care. Their humility and gentle perseverance are a constant source of example for us all. And Jesus used these quiet creatures to whisper words of encouragement into our hectic lives. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30. So come along with us as we look at the ox as a simple, natural, and enjoyable alternative to farming in this fast-paced and high-priced world.

Our ancestors could tell you the value of these lowly beasts. Oxen were animals that filled the pioneer's needs in several ways. They pulled the heavy wagons, loaded with all the wealth these brave people had, at little to no cost in feed. The opportunity to graze the vegetation that could be found along the way was the oxen's only wage. Often these animals were cows, rather than steers. They gave the family the yearly bonus of a calf, as well as the milk that the growing children so badly needed. Many oxen were used as the power to bring home the supplies needed for the house and farm. Their plodding meant a long trip to the nearest store, and often the farmers would have been able to arrive faster if they had walked, but without the oxen's strength, they would not have been able to return with the heavy sacks of seed, flour and other goods that their families were waiting for. And in the end, these humble and dependable servants were used for food to feed hungry mouths, and for leather to create new harness and clothes.

Now in this day of fast paced life, and money hungry lifestyles, if we choose to, we can still find some of that simple, quiet living. Some of the choices necessary to achieve that sense of peace, must needs be, choices that have to do with what is inside of a person, but some of the choices could include how to go about getting things done. The slow steady pace of the ox is a great way to start.

Oxen are a natural power alternative to tractors, as well as to horses. They are strong and when they pit their strength against a stump wedged deep in the ground, or a day's work in the field, pulling a piece of equipment, they are well able to succeed. It is with great awe that a person could stand to watch a team of fit, and well-trained oxen, compete in a ox pulling competition. The power these animals can exert is incredible, well worth seeing, and harnessing it is relatively easy to achieve. The skills required to train and equipt an ox are basic, as well as great for the growth of both body and soul.

Working with these draft animals is necessarily carried out with a close partnership between the handler and the team, and is a wonderful way to become intimate with a part of creation; to enjoy it, and see its beauty. It is also a way to share a little with our ancestors, to remember our history, and to join with others who have the same interests and desires. So, as life races past us, join us, as we slow down to work with our oxen; and perhaps, as we move a little slower, we will enjoy a little more what we have been given to hold.

What is an ox?
Oxen are steers of any breed of cattle, that are at least four years old, and taught to work. Steers, in this catagory, that are younger than four years old, are called "Working Steers".

What is a steer?
A steer is a castrated bull.

How are oxen different than cattle?
There is no difference. Oxen are just cattle that have been taught to work.

Why are oxen so big?
Usually steers are butchered before they reach their full size. Because oxen are kept alive, they have the chance to grow bigger. A full grown ox is usually bigger than the bull of the same breed.

Why do oxen have such big horns?
When people choose an animal for an ox, they choose one with horns. The horns keep the yoke on their heads when they back up. Oxen's horns grow as their bodies grow, and so they have big horns, although not all breeds have the same size of horns.- B&SD


What about the Meek?

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