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First, a little history on what we do. Both Wendy and I grew up in families that raised and worked oxen. We have basically been working with cattle our entire lives. When our children were quite young, we began building ox yokes for their calves. They were very involved in training and competing with oxen. As soon as we began building their yokes, we started getting orders for custom-built ox yokes. We are very fortunate in that we live in New England. This region has the greatest number of ox teamsters and working cattle in the country. We are also very fortunate that many members of our family are in the logging and lumber industry. This gives us a steady supply of quality hardwoods for our yoke making. Our state, New Hampshire, is the most forested state in the United States.
The piece of Red Maple that we are making Alfons’ yoke from has an interesting story of its own. I manage a farm in which we do all of our logging with oxen and draft horses. On the farm, we have a water-powered sawmill and grist mill, and many other interesting buildings. We teach blacksmithing, tinsmithing, timber framing, training of oxen, logging with oxen and logging with horses. You can check us out at www.sanbornmills.org. (We apologize but are having computer trouble and our 2013 schedule is not yet updated.)
The Red Maple tree for Alfons’ yoke was harvested at Sanborn Mills Farm. It was hauled from deep in the woods using our oxen, Joe & Jake, and then long-hauled to the mill area on a New England-style logging scoot, using the draft horses, Willie & Rose. It is actually quite rare for our yoke stock to come from Sanborn Mills Farm. Maybe someday you folks can come visit us at Sanborn Mills Farm and join us at one of our many workshops.
The yoke is coming along very nicely, as you will see in the pictures. It has a very clear sapwood face and the back side of the yoke shows the darker heartwood. The hardware in the center of the yoke will include a ring and a bitch link. When hooking to an implement with a pole, the pole passes through the ring. When hooking to a chain is necessary, the chain will pass through the keyhole opening of the bitch link and drop into the pinch of the bottom of the bitch link. It is a very nice system. The bow pins are handmade by a blacksmith.
We should complete the construction of the yoke next weekend and it will take a few additional days to apply the five coats of polyurethane. When the last coat is dry, we will pack and ship the equipment to you folks. When you receive the yoke, it needs to be stored in a dry, unheated building. The wood is winter cut and contains a lower sap content than the rest of the year, however, it should be allowed to acclimate to the environment. We store ours in the same barn where we house the cattle.
The pictures we are sending you all have to do with the making of your yoke. However, there is one picture of a recently polyurethaned 9” yoke that we built for a customer. This is what it looks like before we add the thru-bolts and center hardware. We will send you pictures of the horses and oxen logging at Sanborn Mills Farm.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We would appreciate feed back from you when you receive the ox yoke and would like to get a picture of the yoke on your cattle.
Thank you for your business, Tim & Wendy