This morning, in the recently harvested potato field, Jim and John (the oxen) are showing vast improvement in their plowing technique. Their first time pulling a walking plow at Howell Farm was August 30, just two days before the plowing match, and their subsequent plowing match performance was less than championship-worthy.
But since then, Farmer Rob and Intern Virginia have been putting in two-to-three hour days with the oxen, and the results are starting to show. An increase in the oxen’s strength and fitness certainly helps, but so does the rhythm of now working on a regular basis. Farmer Rob says the cooler weather is a factor as well. Oxen don't like hot summer days.
This year’s potato field will soon be planted with wheat or spelt, but the plowing is still turning up some healthy looking potatoes that were missed the first time around.
Meanwhile, out in the field that was used for the plowing match, Farmer Ian (the winner of the match, as it happens) is finishing the plowing job with Jack and Chester.
Farmer Jeremy reports that Bill the draft horse continues his recovery from a leg injury, and is able to pull heavier and heavier loads of manure each week. Jeremy doesn’t want to rush the rehab program, however, so Bill might not be use for plowing this fall. Plowing is one of the hardest jobs on the farm for the horses, as well as the oxen, and the farmers too.