The Ox


A narrow life



Bordering an agricultural plain, at the foot of a row of hills, there was a small town. A road led from the plain through the town directly to one of the hills and steeply up its side, to a high valley beyond. The road was lined on both sides by densely growing bushes and tall trees so that, when ascending the road, one could not see much else but the road ahead.

Quite often, not only light passenger buggies but also transport wagons followed this road. The teams of draft animals pulling heavily loaded wagons were then not able to pull those up the mountain road. Therefore, a man conducted his business there by renting out pairs of oxen to assist in letting the wagons be pulled up.

That man was the owner of 8 oxen. At the end of each year, he sold the oldest two and bought two young ones at the beginning of the following spring, because there was not much work during winter. This way, each ox served almost 4 years in the service of this man before being sorted out.

On a spring morning, also the ox of this story still quite young arrived with the man.

During the first year of his service, he enjoyed showing his youthful strength.

During the second year of service, he arrived at the peak of his capability to work and was content with that.

During the third year of service, he sensed how the new and still younger oxen already had more strength than he. Yet, work was good, because when there was much to be pulled up the hill then they obtained more to feed on in the evening.

During the fourth year of his service, things were not that simple any longer. Quite often, the ox was tired. Once he had hurt one of the hoofs by stepping wrongly and then had to suffer pain for many weeks till all seemed healed.

Then, late in fall, the man gave him lots of salt to lick as much as he wanted. That tasted good! He was also allowed to drink as much water as he wanted, finally looking quite round.

Then, another man came by. He talked for a while with the owner of the ox and also looked him over finding him still having quite some meat and led him away.

They followed different roads, not limited by forests and, therefore, more interesting, suggesting a wider world even now in fall still being quite beautiful.

Then they arrived at a barn which was dark inside. The ox was led there, where there were still other oxen already waiting.

One ox, the one which was standing next to him in the dark, suddenly collapsed. Then, some men came in with a horse which dragged the collapsed ox out of the barn by his horns.

Suddenly also the ox of our story sensed a hard hit on the head.

All turned dark in front of his eyes and he collapsed.

During the last moment, he felt great calm. Now, he would not have to go out in each weather any longer to pull heavy loads