Hazard A Guess: Week of May 20, 2004.

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Hello from Hazard!

Leftover responses from readers who also correctly identified Item No. 710 as a shoe stretcher: R.D. Heidl, Sandusky, Ohio; Tim Fultz, Youngstown, Ohio; and Gailey Henderson, Williamstown, W.Va.

Readers were quick to identify Item No. 711 as a livestock yoke, which was kind of a “gimme.” But what was the yoke’s specific use?

It’s a calf yoke, say Reva Montgomery, Lordstown, Ohio; James Miller of Louisville, Ohio; Bill Swanson, Butler, Pa.; James Cogar, Canton, Ohio; and Geri and J.C. Corrigan of Millersburg, Ohio. (James Cogar suggests it’s a sheep yoke.)

The Corrigans, who are collectors of antique ox yokes, explain that it’s actually a calf bow, not a yoke. They shared quite a bit of information on yokes and bows and tell us that our item was used for young cattle in training (working steers). The cattle aren’t called oxen until they are 4.

Our pictured, pear-shaped bow would be a problem to properly fit to a yoke, they add. Ideally, the bow is a perfect “U” shape.

“A lot of them were not made with the comfort of the oxen in mind,” the Corrigans write.

The couple has had a local metal shop make their bows out of 5/8 inch steel tubing, which has worked well. Mr. Corrigan saw bent metal rods commonly used to work teams while he was in Queensland during WWII.

Using wood to make bows today is a labor-intensive process, he adds, but the result is a “beautiful piece of work.”

Few are made today, mostly from a cost standpoint, although the Corrigans work with several Amish craftsmen who still fashion the wooden bows and yokes – including Abe Yoder of Clark Bending near Baltic, Ohio, who Corrigan says is “no doubt the largest maker of ox bows in North America and probably the world.”

* * *

Item No. 712 comes from Clyde Henning of Paris, Ohio. We may not even have the thing photographed in the right angle, because no one knows exactly what it was attached to. We’ve hazarded a guess, but we’d like to hear from you.

Send your responses to: Hazard a Guess, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or via e-mail to: editorial@farmanddairy.com.

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