Being new to ranching, I am always learning something. Like not every calf is a boy just because they have something hanging down under their belly. New calves all have something and it is their umbilicus. I was no help that first year tagging calves.
Some things you learn as a child, and that belief stays with you. As a child I watched Sesame Street. The show helped me learn many things. How to sing my A,B,C’s, count in other languages (still can to 10 in Spanish), and all about different animals. Besides the animals you see in zoo’s and on t.v there was Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Ox, and the Yak. I knew I would never see the first two, they didn’t leave Sesame Street and the last two I thought were “old fashioned” like dinosaurs. My reasoning was that I have never encountered an ox or a yak in any of the wildlife parks or zoos that I have been to.
So I was very amazed to find out that I actually own an ox! How crazy is that!
The only reason I found this out is because I happen to see a package of meat in a store labelled “Oxtail”. First thing out of my mouth was “Is that really part of a tail?” to hubby, who said “Yes” Well then my mind went to … is that all they use from an ox is the tail …. what about the rest of the animal …. where do they get the ox from … I thought they were extinct… At some point I think I verbalised this to hubby who then explained what exactly an ox is and that we could potentially have one.
Well I was shocked! So for those of you who, like me, grew up in the city watching Sesame Street and think ox are no more I am here to tell you they are still around. Kind of….
An ox or oxen for more than one, are actually cattle that are tamed, trained and used for labour. They were used to plow the fields, pull wagons and carts and for whatever else required lots of muscle. Most of the time they used castrated males (steers) for this job because they were easier to handle then bulls. The females were used for milk or they were either pregnant or nursing a calf and you wouldn’t want to use them for hard labour.
So in a way I guess they are extinct or endangered, at least in Canada. I don’t think many people use cattle that way anymore. Maybe we should go back to using oxen. Just think, it would cut down on C02 emissions from the trucks and tractors involved in farming and there would be an increase in employment because you would need people to work with the animals. Just a thought…
As for our potential oxen, they are quite handsome boys but not exactly tame and very far from trained. What could I get them to do, hmm… well if I could just pet them that would be awesome! How did we end up with them? Well that is a very interesting story and I am glad you asked.
Our black boy “M04C” was born January 3, 2015 and was a surprise baby. His mother had been hit on the road and her leg was broken. Hubby brought her into the yard and we put her in a corral where she could be close to food and water and heal up. She couldn’t keep up with the rest of the herd and we didn’t want to just dispose of her so we kept her to fatten and then slaughter for our own use. She was not out with the bulls so we did not think she was pregnant. A few weeks before we were scheduled to take her in, out popped baby boy. Surprise! Someone snuck out of the pen.
When it came time to sell the calves, M04 was head and shoulders bigger than the rest of them that were born in late April and May. You would think that would be good, we would get more money for him or something. NO That is not how it works. No one would buy him. He did not fit in with the rest. So we kept him. I even tried to sell him as a yearling but because he is just one, again no one wanted him and if we just took him to auction we would get half of what he should be worth because he is alone. It doesn’t make sense to me so I can’t explain it. One day I will have to pick someone’s brain as to what goes on after I sell the calves and then maybe I will understand.
Our red boy was born in 2013 and he spent that summer at our ranch away from the home ranch. He did not make it back to us with his mother in the fall. Then a few weeks ago we received a call from the auction market in the area of our other ranch saying they had a steer of ours. He just “showed up” at someone’s field. Hmmm…
So now we have two big boys. Anyone wanting some oxen or really good beef?
Oh, and I looked up Yak…. you have to go to the Himalaya region of Asia to see them and they are also a bovine. Still very much in existence. Maybe one day I will see one.