O volském potahu

Title: O volském potahu
Variant title:
  • On oxcart
Source document: Pešík, František. Agrární kultura : o tradičních formách zemědělského hospodaření a života na vesnici. 1. vyd. Brno: Ústav evropské etnologie Masarykovy univerzity, 2007, pp. 143-148
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The oxcart is a traditional form of a cattle yoking, which in the Czech Republic became extinct in the 1950s with connection to the village collectivization. František Pešík, agriculturalist and correspondent of the Czech Ethnic Society, compiled a work, based on his memories, in which he explains this extinct form of yoking with the help of town Manětín (West Bohemia). The ox - emasculated bull - was used as a draught animal in small homesteads, in which a horse wouldn't be profitable. The mansions saw a great use of oxen. Estates used the oxen for ploughing and transport of sugar-beet from the fields in the autumn, as the horses sometimes lost their shoes when they sank into the heavy soil. The ox was a reliable draught animal as it didn't yield as horses sometimes did. It was better suited for powering mills (grinders) and threshers thanks to its slower pace. Just like horses, the oxen were shoed for an outdoor work. The ox- and cow-shoe, unlike the horse-shoe, had two parts. The traction power of the animal was lead off its head. In the German villages of West Bohemia, the oxen were yoked into harnesses with so-called "jochs" attached to the horns; the Czech farmers in Manětín and its environs used mostly harnesses with so-called "handle". Special commands were used for communication with the oxen, the driver had to have a whip in his hand; this was used very rarely. The amount of fodder for oxen was not much different from that for cows. Sharp iron articles were great danger for the cattle. Even when the farmer was careful, the ox could eat a nail with its fodder. The ox then had to be put down. After 1945, the new inhabitants of the West Bohemia borderland sold oxen and bought horses. Small homesteads in Manětín often saved their oxen, which they then handed over to the Agricultural Cooperative. Members of the cooperative then used them for croft field ploughing and various other jobs until 1960 when this form of yoking dies out once and for all.