ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY (WDBJ7) Using an ox team may seem an antique hobby to you, but on a small farm can be really useful.
“It’s a very low tech, low tech solution to farming problems,” explains Kendy Sawyer, who was training visitors to the Rockbridge Regional Fair on how to guide oxen.
They can be used for tasks like hauling or any activity on a small farm that would otherwise demand a tractor.
“Up to a certain amount of acres of land, financially it doesn’t make as much sense to have a tractor because they cost so much,” says Kristen McCann, who owns a family farm in Bassett with her husband.
And leading an ox isn’t as complicated as you might think.
“We’ll go with the cliché," Sawyer laughs. "It’s not rocket science.”
Take for example Arianna McCann, Kristen's daughter. She’s hoping to turn her calf into a useful part of the farm.
“This is Ahern," she says, pulling him back into position with his lead. "I’m trying to teach him how to do simple steps.”
So she’s learning how with the big guys, following Sawyer's instructions as she leads a giant steer around the ring.
“The kids are really enjoying it," Kristen McCann says. Learning a lot, management skills. It’s a good thing.”
“It was interesting," Arianna admits. "I’m glad I know more, because I was getting confused about what to do with him at home.”
“The children can learn, and they may grow up to not even live on farms, but they’re also learning to be in charge, to be responsible," Sawyer explains. "Oxen love leadership. The children have to take that roll or the oxen will.”
A lot of big lessons for a big animal on a small farm.