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Farming with Oxen

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Just before harvest, the men who will bring in the corn stop to pose for Maud Dodge's camera in Ashfield, Massachusetts. But the focus of this photograph is not the tall stand of corn or the four men ready to bring it in. Instead, the oxen are given a pride of place. Before the wide availability of gasoline-powered farm machinery, there were few animals more useful for farming on the rocky New England terrain than oxen. A well-trained team could haul heavy loads out of fields that to this day would mire a typical tractor. Farmers, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th century, worked hard to improve the quality of their oxen through cross-breeding programs. To this day, Ashfield oxen are highly prized.


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