Pair of oxen pulling weight for Farm Museum

The oxen team, with the guidance of their drivers, will demonstrate what farm life was like in the era of the museum's 1790s Hoff Memorial Barn.

With firm commands, Don Hoff and Karen Butler guided the Carroll County Farm Museum's team of oxen around the yard Tuesday as the two beasts of burden pulled a large tire behind them.

Jack and Jim, a pair of 3-year-old Devon oxen, were donated by the museum's Hoff Barn Committee. The team, with the guidance of drivers, will demonstrate what farm life was like in the 1790s, according to Bob Shirley, education chair for the Hoff Barn Committee.


"This is the first time that anyone but the drivers have seen them hooked to a load like this. The tire doesn't look 1790-ish. What we would like to do is have an oxen cart but we'd probably have to mortgage the farm to get one. We're hoping we can get somebody to build us one," Shirley said.

Shirley said volunteer drivers Butler and Hoff have been working with the oxen team since December. Volunteers Diana Hare and Bill Kelly recently attended an oxen driver clinic at Sanborn Mill Farm in New Hampshire and are now prepared to drive the team as well.

"The boys needed a little more experience pulling something. This is a great opportunity to show some of the people who have been involved in bringing the oxen to Maryland what we can do with them. Horses get a lot of glory, but oxen did a lot of the work," Butler said.

The oxen will be on site until November and will be driven during Fall Harvest Days Oct. 17 and 18. The pair will spend the winter at Butler's farm in Middleburg and return to the museum in the spring.

"Diana and Billy have only had a two-day training and they are doing a great job," said Bob Jones, chairman of the museum's Hoff Barn Committee, as he watched the demonstration.

Jones said the museum is looking for two or three volunteers to care for the oxen while they are on the property. To volunteer, call 410-386-3880.