Pennsbury Manor has some new residents! We are pleased to introduce our members, volunteers, visitors, and the rest of the Pennsbury community to Michael and Roger, two oxen who are joining our team of animal ambassadors. Some of you may notice a resemblance to Bill and Red, Pennsbury’s former oxen team. That’s because Michael and Roger are related to them – we are glad to keep their family line going here at Pennsbury!
Michael and Roger round out our farm, which already has geese, sheep, horses, and of course a barn cat. All the inhabitants of the stables at Pennsbury are animals that William Penn would have had when he lived here. Penn would have used oxen on his farm to clear and plow his fields. Oxen are better suited to ploughing difficult ground as their cloven (or “split”) hooves give them better traction on rocky soil than horses, and they don’t tire as easily. Before the land could be plowed, they had to remove trees – and Michael and Roger were trained to pull logs in Maine before they joined us here. Just like some of us enjoy regular pedicures at the salon, Michael and Roger recently had a visit from the farrier who trimmed their hooves to keep them healthy and strong.
Michael and Roger won’t be ploughing any of Pennsbury’s 43 picturesque acres though – they are here to enjoy a life of peace and semi-retirement. They will be active members of our interpretive and educational programming where they will demonstrate team handling and ploughing in their beautiful handmade yoke from New England Ox Supply.
Just like your pets at home, Michael and Roger have their own personalities. Now that they are settling in to their new home, their demeanors are starting to shine through. Roger is very serious and reserved, focused on the tasks our animal husbandry lead Carole gives him. Michael is the class clown – he likes to goof off, have fun, and test his caretakers’ limits. Roger’s horns point up whereas Michael’s are more spread out – see if you can tell who is who!
Caring for oxen takes a lot of work, which is why we are so grateful to Carole and our dedicated team of volunteers who help her. A typical day includes feeding, grooming, cleaning stalls, moving animals to new corrals, scheduling veterinarian and farrier appointments, and keeping watch on their overall health – it’s a very labor intensive job! There are a lot of costs involved as well. A bale of hay is $6 and 100 bales lasts 3-4 weeks. A gallon of fly spray costs $70 and Pennsbury animals use 7 gallons per season. Not to mention medicine, veterinarian appointments, farrier appointments for the hooved animals, and more. The yearly cost of caring for the animals is around $15,000.
That’s why we are asking for your support. The animals at Pennsbury Manor play an important role in the overall interpretation of William Penn and daily life in 17th century Pennsylvania. The Pennsbury Animal Fund helps provide for the ongoing care of the animals at Pennsbury Manor, maintaining existing animal programming, and developing new interpretive programming for our living collection of farm animals. Pennsbury Manor’s Animal Program is completely volunteer-operated and is supported solely by the Pennsbury Society, a non-profit 501C(3) support organization, and donations from our community.
If you would like to donate, please follow this link and be sure to indicate that you would like your donation to go toward the Animal Fund. You can also mail cash or check to 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road Morrisville, PA 19067. Better yet, you can come visit Michael and Roger in person, and drop your donation off in the Visitor Center while you’re here!
We hope you will continue to follow along on Michael and Roger’s journey by following us on Instagram and Facebook (@pennsburymanor) and by checking our website for new updates.