Monday, February 26, 2007

86 Ox-power traction

Written at the bottom of this drawing is the following:
"This mill was drawn on the 28th of March 1797 from
Regency Square to ye Dyke Road Brighton a distance of over two
miles by 86 oxen which belonged to the following gentlemen.." (the rest is

If you click on the picture you'll get a bigger version, and you'll be able to see the white-smocked farmers directing their teams with long sticks. Some sticks have rings at the ends - for what reason I do not know.

Although this picture isn't directly related to farming, it does show what was involved in directing an ox-team. These beasts seem to be of the Sussex breed.

In those days, most farmers expected to work an ox for five or six years before slaughtering it for sale. They were not overworked as it was believed that making the animals exert themselves to their full was detrimental to their fattening abilities. Training an animal started at about two and a half years .They were yoked in sixes or eights, with teams of twelve working very stiff land.

The Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex is training a pair of Sussex cattle to work in the same way. See :