Welcome to Local FarmMany of our events are organized collaboratively with the non-profit Motherhouse, Inc. For regular updates on their eggscellent Old Style Life-Skills Series of workshops for the backyard farmer/homesteader, subscribe to the free Motherhouse newsletter, and/or "Like" Motherhouse on Facebook and receive reminders and reports of these and udder eggsciting events.
Category Archives: Training
11-year-old Timothy Lacy puts himself in the hooves of a young ox-in-training named Sherlock and writes about his life on Local Farm, Cornwall, CT. Now, in Chapter 3 we meet Sherlock’s baby brother, Dutch. See Chapter 1 and follow the links for the full story.
Big news! My mom just calved and now I have a baby brother named Dutch. He is small, friendly, smart, and pale. I think he will be a good brother. I heard they’re going to turn him into an ox like me. Today I went on a walk with Dutch, and he seems like he’ll grow up like me. I can’t believe how undemanding Tim is being with him. NOT FAIR.
But Dutch has been hilarious when Tim visits him. When he sees a warm human or cow body, he thinks it is “breakfast time” so he is always trying to get milk. He sucks on the fence, he sucks on shirts, chains, shoes, fingers, even Tim’s ears. He does that to pretty much everyone who bottle feeds him. By the way I heard that they have started weaning him, which means he is not getting milk from his mom anymore. He gets milk from a bottle and eats hay.
Now I will turn a small part of the entry over to Dutch.
Hello my name is Dutch, also known as Dutchy. I was born at Local Farm in a barn with my mom Silmeral. Now that I am a month old, some days after I get my breakfast (a bottle filled with my mom’s milk) I get a visit from my older brother Sherlock. He comes into the barn with Tim and gets tied to the gate at my stall, and we have a little time to talk before Sherlock goes to work with Tim.
He tells me everything there is to know about being an ox. If I am lucky I take a walk with my brother. One time we saw a red-tailed hawk on our walk. I also get to meet all of Sherlock’s friends who live in the fields, like Samantha, who is Sherlock’s best friend, and Serafina, and Raquel. Sherlock wears a lot of gear which Tim tells me that someday I’m going to get to wear. I hope that day comes soon. Unfortunately this is all Sherlock will let me write in his autobiography.
Back to Sherlock
The other big news involves me (Sherlock). They put britchen on me, and they got me a cart, and they also figured out how to hitch me up to the sled. I have a feeling that they will use that cart while training Dutch. I don’t know how to explain how I am hitched to the cart with the britchen, but I will try. Basically, on the side of my yoke there are some rings where the britchen, which is like a harness, connects with my yoke. And in the back the britchen connects me with the cart.
Today was the first day of work. My job was to bring hay to the herd and to Dutch. They put my yoke on and they clipped a sled full of hay to it. I took it out to the pastures and then Tim took me back to the barn to load me up with another bale. Then when we went to the pastures Tim would drop my halter and tell me to wait and unload the bale. It sometimes was hard to resist snatching the bale away from Tim and eating it myself but I managed to resist it anyways. It was ok but I hope being an ox will get more fun. I think I did pretty well.
But it isn’t easy to work in this hot August weather. Worst of all there are lots of flies. I try to brush them off but it is not easy, especially when you have a yoke on your back.
Life goes on at the farm. Betsy, the former head cow, has come home to have her calf. The calving is pretty much finished: three calves were born this past spring. But, the cow named Pumpkin is having my calf in February. That’s right, I’m going to be a dad. Samantha has been living in the pastures with the other cows. Froggy the horse has left for a horse camp for the summer. In general, I am glad to say that life is still good.
11-year-old Timothy Lacy puts himself in the hooves of a young ox-in-training named Sherlock and writes chapter 2 about his life on Local Farm, Cornwall, CT. See Chapter 1.
Spring! At last I can roam free in the fields with the adult cows! I can talk to Froggy the horse, I can eat all the fresh grass I want. Oh it’s like heaven out here! There is a whole kingdom of grass. I can walk out anywhere I want in the fields and I sleep outside too. I can even see what’s outside of the farm, like the small creek across the street where at night I can see extraordinary things – eagles, herons, bobcats, coyotes, and cardinals. So this is the great outdoors! So I guess my life out here is better than it was in the barn.
The swallows have returned and Tivoli the cat gave birth to another litter of kittens! There are also a few new cows at Local Farm. One new cow here is named Roxie. I have fallen in love with her! I like to follow her around and stay by her side. She is the beautiful color of butter.
And there are newborn cows. A new calf named Sindarin was brought here. She kind of reminds me of the way Samantha and I were when we were a month old. She drinks from a jumbo bottle just like Tim used to give me and Samantha and sleeps a lot.
Tim still takes me out for walks. By the way remember that weird thing they put on my back called the yoke, well, that was not the end of having that odd weight on my back. Two weeks ago this man that I had never seen before named Garrick came over and worked with Tim on trying a bunch of yokes on me. He was really nice and seemed to know a lot about oxen. The yokes were different sizes and finally one was comfortable. Don’t ask me what these are for. I still have no idea, but I have a feeling that some sort of cart is involved. And now I think I really should just go along with it because it does not look like this is going to end anytime soon.
The other big deal that’s going on in my life is I think that my mom, Silmeral, is going to have another calf. I really wonder what Debra and Margaret are going to name it. I heard Tim talking about ideas for the calf’s name. There is a special way to decide a cow’s name. At Local Farm the first name of all the cows born here is Local and the middle name is the father’s name and the last name starts with the same letter as the mother’s. My full name is Bluestone (where I was born) Fat Louis (my dad) Sherlock. Everyone calls cows by their “last name”. Here are some ideas for the name of Simeral’s calf: St. Louis, Stan, Suzuki, Sooner, San Jose, Sophie, and Samuel.
I also heard that many of the other cows here are pregnant. I am more than excited for this. So this is my new life and I hope I stay here forever. This is only the beginning!
(See Chapter 3)
Garrick Dinneen stopped by Local Farm to help us in training our young bull, Sherlock. Here he is showing us different yokes. Debra made the small single yoke propped behind and to the right of Garrick’s feet, 20 years ago while attending Tillers International. It’s just the right size for Sherlock. Garrick’s holding a double yoke that he made while in 4-H.
This is the britchen he had made for his single ox, Buck. Although it is way too big for Sherlock…
he put it on so we could see how it works.
A britchen helps hold the yoke and shafts in place on a single ox and acts as a brake so the cart doesn’t roll into the ox.
Garrick helped encourage Sherlock as Tim took him for a test drive in the “new” yoke. The clanging hooks on each end of the yoke made Sherlock pretty nervous, but bit by bit he’s getting used to it.
Today, I took him for a walk in the yoke and used baling twine to tie a 2X4 to his yoke so we could get used to the sound of something dragging behind. Scarey! but I showed confidence and soon Sherlock pulled it like a pro.
Just Sherlock. I am a Jersey cow. I was born on a warm April day at Bluestone Farm in Brewster NY. When I was 2 weeks old my mom, Silmaril, and I moved to the Local Farm barn. It was a nice welcoming barn where swallows nested on the roof and they would always keep me company whenever Silmaril was out in the fields with the other cows. And Tivoli the cat who had just given birth to a litter of kittens would come daily to see me.
I convinced mom to let her have some of my milk so I always consider her my sister. She’s a really good looking cow. She is yellow like the color of corn syrup. All heifers that I’ve seen look like that.
The walks are really fun but I don’t really get the point. Maybe If Tim could understand me I would know. Whenever I am not being walked I sit in the barn talking to Samantha and eating my favorite food HAY,HAY,
AND MORE HAY! In fact the hay barn is on top of a flight of stairs that are in my pen so I could get hay whenever I wanted if only I could learn to climb stairs. Occasionally Tim puts me a separate pen where I only get 2 flakes of hay a day. A flake is a big chunk of a bale. I also cannot see Samantha. At least it isn’t as bad as being kept from your milk. You see once you get older you’re not allowed to get milk. And if you try the punishments are gruesome. You see a couple of days ago this bull named Phinigan who lives in the pastures was caught drinking milk so the farmer made him wear this uncomfortable nose ring. Poor Phinigan. They are now not letting me have milk either. OH it is so annoying I mean I wish they would put my mom in the pen right next to me.
It is now winter. All the swallows have gone and now Samantha and Tivoli are the only people I can talk to. But one day Tim took me for a walk and there was this puffy white stuff coming down from the sky. It was scary so I tried to run away but you can’t run away from the weather. And Tim was upset so I know I did a very bad thing.
Tim has been doing another strange thing a lot lately. He puts a hard wooden thing on the back of my neck a lot lately. I don’t know what its called but it’s so strange looking that I feel weird wearing it. I’m starting to realize that these walks are what I live for so I try to do whatever they want me to do. But the question is what do they want this to lead to?
Ok a lot of this white puffy stuff that I think they call snow is coming down. I mean so much that the barn is buried. That’s why now I don’t think I will see Tim any time soon. I just got some interesting news: They’re planning to let me move into the pastures in a couple months. OH I just can’t wait for that day! I’ll finally be able to see my mom again and run and talk to chickens and meet Froggy the horse and live off fresh grass. I haven’t gotten fresh grass since August. And it is now February just a couple weeks before this all happens!
Basic commands we learned were:
hep or come for move ahead,
whoa for Stop
gee for turn to the right
haw for turn to the left
and back for back up.
Sherlock gives us a hand for a job well done as Margaret lifts his hoof to accustom him to handling.