How to Entertain an Ox

26 Mar

MJ, my ox, celebrated his 13th birthday on March 23.  Ironically, in the Chinese calendar, he was born in the year of the ox.  This makes him a loyal, dependable, and patient character.  Those born in the year of the ox also make good parents.  Again, I find this ironic since an ox can’t be a parent.  Lack of his own offspring aside, this is a good description of MJ.  He is truly sweet and good-natured.  I’m grateful he is such a congenial gentleman because at about three thousand pounds, he’s going to be able to do whatever he wants.  It’s hard to see, but he is over five-feet tall at the shoulder.

Usually his day is spent grazing on the just emerging grass or laying out in the hills with Maxine, his companion cow.  He dotes upon her.  The first winter she was here, he spent so much time licking her ears that she got frostbite on the edges and lost her fuzzy look.  Although he isn’t a parent, he makes a wonderful “uncle” to Maxines calves.  He’s just as proud of them as if they were his babies.  He gives her space when she is getting ready to calve, but when he hears the baby has arrived, he will rush over to give it a quick sniff and then let her have nesting time.  After the baby gets a bit older, Maxine will go off to graze and leave MJ to babysit.  Babies will try to play with him, and he’s always gentle.

Teresa and MJ

Right now, there isn’t a baby to enjoy and there isn’t much to graze on, so what does he do to pass the time?  MJ likes gates.  For the most part, he’s respectful of gates and fences, but he does like to check them out.  If I shut the sixteen-foot gate into the goats’ barnyard but forget to fasten it, after a few days, I’ll walk out to find MJ and Maxine in there.  He’s generally easy to put back where he belongs, and if I fasten it, he’ll leave it alone.  Honestly, he leaves it alone simply because he is loyal and dependable because I doubt a gate has been made that could actually keep him out if he didn’t want it to.

He’s taught me the value of a good heavy gate.  There is no point in going for the cheap gate because it will never last.  However, there is one old run-down gate in his barnyard that has no real purpose, but I’ve never gotten around to removing it because occasionally, it helps MJ to amuse himself during these long uneventful days.

Recently, he’s taken to playing with the gate that is intended to keep everyone off the small pasture until it has a chance to grow.  The gate is just wired and not hung.  I’m having a hard time getting him to quit letting the llama out there.  I’m not sure if he’s accidentally busting the wires just checking to see if it’s open or if he’s trying to get rid of the llama.  I’m leaning towards the second.

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