My Farming Journey: From Teen Ag to Oxen

My Farming Journey: From Teen Ag to Oxen

By Allison Carrier, Communications & Development Assistant

Katie Josephs was a member of our Teen Ag crew in 2014, and her interest in farming only continued after a summer at Wolfe’s Neck. She now trains a team of steers, and will join us at Wolfe’s Neck with her 4-H group for a Draft Power Workshop & Demo on Saturday, May 19th. They’ll teach us about draft power field work and how the animals respond to her commands. Learn more about Katie and how she got started working with oxen and steers:

My journey with working steers started with a visit to a friend at a dairy farm. It was my junior year of high school and I was 16. As a joke my friend said, “Hey, those are for sale if you want them”. The next thing I knew, I was putting two calves in the back of my pickup truck and heading home. Not knowing anything about working steers or even cows in general, I found myself taking care of these calves. After three months, I found my way to the 4-H Brass Knobs Working Steer Club. Here, I learned how to train my calves, tend to their basic needs and about the history of working steers and oxen.

After I started to learn about my working steers I quickly became obsessed. Every day after school I went to the barn I kept them in to train and feed them. In the beginning of my journey, I really just used my team in 4-H. 4-H taught me how to train my team while hitched to a cart. During a competition, we had obstacles to maneuver to simulate working around a farm. The same principle applied to the stone boat class. The intention of this class was to simulate how a team and farmer would go through a field and pick up stones to ensure that plowing would be unobstructed.

I am now 21 and finishing my junior year at University of Maine Farmington as an elementary education major. Education is my passion. It is only fitting that I educate others about my other passion…working steers and oxen! The most important part of my mission to educate is to address the history of a dying heritage farming method. Through my experience, plowing with draft animals is dying out. I am pleased to be a part of a community that allows me to educate others and spread the knowledge of working steer and oxen. I find that it is important to keep a piece of history alive. After all, using draft animals is how we originally cultivated the ground.

It’s been five years since I started working with steers, and I am the first person in my family to raise any type of cattle. My own interest sparked exposure and interest in my other sisters, and now 2 out of 3 of them have even joined in the hobby with me. I hope I can inspire others with my journey as well.

 

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