Oxen were a valuable animal for hauling or tilling the ground.

The book Acadian Lives consists of interviews with Cape Breton Acadians and was collected and edited by Ronald Kaplan with Rosie Aucoin Grace. The book was published in 2004 and includes an interview with Walter Dugas of West Arichat:

“I trained every ox I had, myself. Right easy to train.

“That same ox you see there, I’ll tell you what happened to me one time. I was going to a place they call Grand Lake – it’s about three miles from here. And I was going for my second load. And I was scared I was going to be late, before dark – I had cows to milk. And I was on a bobsled. I had a pair of bobsleigh… And all of a sudden, I went to hold onto a rope…

“I went to just give him a little whip with the rope. And he took off, I lost my balance. And I fell. And his hind foot – and he was shod with steel shoes. And I said ‘Get up!’… He took off. And when I lost my balance I said ‘Whoa!’… He just drove his two front feet in the snow… and he stopped dead on. And I fell between his two shoes, headfirst – and he never gave me a scratch.

“That tells you how you can train an animal… he could have kicked me right in the face.

“I used to haul wood for myself all winter. And one winter, I was hauling for a company, for lumber – logs. And they used to say that I had the ox… well there’s no horse or oxen, that could beat him everywhere I went, to pull.

“They were plowing some good too. Harrowing land, plowing land… I had two barns full of hay all the time. I had three cows, 8 or 9 sheep, calf or two sometimes, and hogs…

“Well most of the ox I had… I brought them up from the cows, as calves, you know… And when they were a year-and-a-half old… I used to make little sleighs for them… I used to get the blacksmith to make little shoes… I remember one time making 10 loads of wood for a cord… to train them… About 5 or 10 pieces of wood at a time. And every day you’d put a piece or two more. Not to hurt them; not to make them work too hard. But to train them to haul hard, you know. It was wonderful fun, too…

“But the last one I had was the best ox I ever had. I don’t know if I didn’t cry when I got rid of it.

[Do you castrate them yourself?]

“No, there was an old fellow, he used to have a pair of pincers… When they’d be a year-and-a-half, two years old, call him over. He used to charge two or three dollars… I think it would make them [tamer] – because the bull sometimes – I know a couple of guys here in West Arichat that almost got killed here with a bull. But an ox will never do that. He’s just like any other small animal. You serve them right, they’ll serve you right.

“Haul manure. Haul hay. All the hay we needed… We made hay by hand you know. But once it was cut and ready to load, we used to have a truck and an ox attached to the truck.

[How did you mow your hay?]

“By hand. With a scythe… the two barns full… My father and I. Sometimes we’d take a helper… But very seldom.”