Monday, December 4, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide

Santa, with Jem and Scout in 2013.  Jem wasn't wild about those
flowing "Father Christmas" robes.
I've gone Black Friday shopping twice in my life.  The first time was 15 years ago, when Black Friday started on . . .Friday.  I bought a TV and lived to tell the tale, vowing to never go again.

In 2012, I was back at it, with better results.  On the day after Thanksgiving that year, I met Dulcy out at Tillers and we loaded up Brutus and Cassius, who were 6 months old at the time.  (Full disclosure:  we tried to get them loaded, but they'd been running with the herd their whole lives and in the wind wouldn't be persuaded to go into the barn, where they could be loaded.  Dulcy and John Sarge got them in the barn that night and Black Friday became Black Saturday.)
Cassius and Brutus, a month after Black Friday
2012, settled down well.

So if you're like me, shopping doesn't inspire you unless it involves oxen, or oxen 'stuff.'  In no particular order then, here are a few recommendations for stocking stuffers.

As always, the standard disclaimers apply:  I'm not employed by any of the companies mentioned here, don't make a dime from the recommendations, and if I haven't tried it I won't recommend it.  So here we go:

A rasp cuts bale strings like butter, but
leaves fingers alone.
1.  A large wood rasp, or hoof rasp.  The brand doesn't matter and you gain many bonus points for picking up a used one.  Leave it in your barn.  It makes the best string cutter for hay bales, particularly when you have cold fingers.

2.  Chairmaker's Notebook.  See this blog post for a full review, but here's the gist of it:  Yoke making is like making a Windsor chair- from splitting, to carving, to steam bending and finishing- and Peter Galbert is a master teacher.  It's not cheap, but few books on woodworking even come close.

3.  A membership to MODA.  $20 a year and our mission is: To promote the use of oxen to our American youth as well as to those in foreign lands, so that all may be shown their diversity and skills, even in this modern world. We do this to keep our American heritage alive and to educate those who can benefit from our experiences.​  Plus, we'll send you the newsletter.  

4.  Why Cows Need Names.  There are lots of good books on oxen, but you probably own those already.  Randy James' wrote this beautiful little book about being an ag extension agent working with small farmers in Plain communities in Ohio.  It's worth your time.  

5.  A Gift Certificate to Tillers International.  Tillers does as much to promote oxen as arguably anyone in the world, mainly to help small farmers lift themselves out of poverty.  Classes at the learning center in Scotts, MI help pay for some of that help.  And you can learn a new skill, such as blacksmithing, in the process.  

When you're composing your letter to Santa, drop me a line as well.  I'd love to hear what's on your list. . . as long as it's not a TV.

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