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A piece of Colonial America that continues today in Pennsylvania

When the pioneers were surviving in Colonial America, one of the animals that helped them was a dual purpose cow. A cow that could give milk, provide food, pull a wagon and plow a field. One of the breeds of that cow is a Devon.
Less than 400 Devons are alive today. Some of these live at Oxhill Devon Farm in Russell.
This oxen farm is owned by Howard Van Ord who shows his oxen at the Warren County Fair. It is the only fair in Pennsylvania that has a show for oxen.
An oxen is actually a steer. A castrated bull that is trained to work. Although cows can be used as oxen they are usually more valuable providing offspring and feeding them.
An oxen is a draft animal; it can do everything a draft horse does.
At the Warren Fair, the oxen compete in obstacle course training contests. In these contests, they must back into a parallel space, walk through pylons,walk over tires, pull a sled and go through a gate. As the oxen do this they respond to voice commands, motion and the tap of a whip.The oxen teams also compete in a Matched Pair class for the team that walks and works together and looks alike. Van Ords matched Devons won that class.
His pair of Devons are 16 months old and look identical. Their names are Willy and Pat. They wear protective rounded tips on the end of their horns.The tips protect the other oxen and their handlers from being gored by a horn. In each pair there is a leader and a follower. Van Ord said a team can last 16 or 17 years.
The Warren Fair also has pulling contests for the oxen. These contests are distance pulls with the oxen pulling 75% of their weight. “In Maine, oxen pulls are as common as horse pulls,” said Dana Kozlowski (Van Ords daughter). “They have 20 pulls per week in Maine.”
Howard Van Ord is also a 4-H leader for the Oxen Club. The only oxen club in Pennsylvania and Ohio. “I’m a 4-H fanatic,” Van Ord said. “I believe every kid should have an animal project to teach the kid respect and teach the animal respect.”
His team of Devons work at home. They haul round bales of hay, drag wood and plow fields. Other farmers can use them to mow hay and plow snow.
“That’s what makes a team,” Van Ord said. “You work together as a team. You can keep an oxen for half of the cost of keeping a horse.”
When comparing oxen to horses; it’s similar to the tortoise and the rabbit. The oxen are the slow and steady creatures. When the West was being settled it cost twice as much to send something by horse as oxen.The horse has to carry all it’s feed with it; the oxen eat whatever they find along the way. If a horse would break a hitch, it would not be an easy repair.
If an oxen breaks a yoke, you can cut down a tree and carve a new one. Van Ord carves oxen yokes and sells them all over the country,as far away as Alaska and California. They are sold mostly to Heritage farms where history is kept alive. That is what Howard Van Ord is doing, preserving a small piece of Colonial America—-the oxen.