Despite the slushy weather conditions, Merle and Roy pulled our volunteer around and around in her little sled this weekend. It wasn’t the shiny, bell-adorned sleigh that I fantasize the boys someday pulling, but it’s a start. A girl can dream. As for Rebecca, the ride may have given her a soaked rear, but she was as happy as could be, getting pulled at two miles an hour!
In general, cattle are not fast animals. I find that the boys sometimes have especially slow days during training, the days when getting them to move is much more of a task than usual. Most of the time, when this happens, just one of the boys will have an off day. For instance, Roy may not be focused and may not move forward on cue, while Merle, on the other hand, moves instantly and quickly. Since Merle is always hitched on the left side, the entire yolk then turns to the right, against my commands. If the situation is reversed and Merle is holding Roy back, the team turns left. Does that make sense?
For this reason many ox drivers, when first choosing a team, try to pick two calves with similar temperaments, either both type B personalities or both type A. This way, both steers will for the most part, keep pace with each other. In the end, whatever type of team ultimately gets chosen, one of the steers will always be slightly more alert and slightly more energetic than the other. The alert steer is almost always the dominant one. Strangely, my dominant guy is the smaller one, Merle. In the below picture, Merle is the steer nearest to the camera.
I never had this opportunity to use my best judging skills to pick the ideal team because I wasn’t the one who found these two, Merle and Roy were the ones who really found me. The day the livestock dealer came through to drop off a couple of animals, these two little newborn boys were curled up in the truck on the way to the auction. If the farm staff here didn’t end up taking them, they probably would have become veal. Merle and Roy may not be the spitting image of the perfect storybook team, but I think their flaws give them more character, and that’s just fine by me!