Route 27, Belgrade, Maine · 207-649-3331

“Red” mentor, best friend, worker, oxen at Winterberry farm

Gil Whitehead Winterberry Farm oxen Christmas treesStar and Red came to our farm when they were 2 weeks old and Gil was 9 years old, they raised each other, Gil has worked those boys practically every day.

We picked them up on a cold February day in New Vineyard, Maine. we loaded them into the back of our Toyota 4 runner, Gil started right away with training them with his commands and a yoke.

They were his 4H project and after 3 years of showing them at the local fairs, Gil decided that showing was not for him. So he began working them in the woods twitching logs and hauling them up to the house for us to burn in the furnace, then he started working them in the vegetable fields hauling compost in his ox cart built just for them, with a dump body on it. As Gil grew so did the oxen always shoulder to shoulder even now at 6’2″ those oxen are right at his shoulder.  IMG_1697

We began a Christmas tree lot for Gil when he was 4years old, now at Christmas time, Gil hitches up the scoot and brings the families that arrive at the farm, down to the tree lot and brings up there treasured tree for the Holiday tradition.

Two years ago Gil decided to build a cabin, well as those boys have been right there with him, as he cut those 50 trees down with his cross cut saw, he used the boys to twitch the logs up to his cabin’s location and as the cabin walls became to tall for Gil to raise himself he used the boys to slide them up.

Each September Gil loads up the boys and brings them to the Common Ground Fair, for the scooting and logging demonstrations, and enjoys the interaction of the fair gowers and talking about his boys and what he does with them on the farm.

Last Tuesday we stole Gil away from his semester program, to help us on the farm for 2 days to prep us for the spring growing season. He hitched up the boys to work them, he was planning to load up the ox cart with compost and apply it to one of the cut flower fields, when Red challenged Gil and Gil was tossed around a bit. This was the last time this was going to happen and Gil decided that Sage and I would not be safe handling Red while he was away for the next 2 months. So we decided together that Red was not to stay, Gil loaded Red onto the trailer and rode with him to the slaughter house he stayed with Red right to the kill room and until the end. The steer led a blessed and beautiful life, they helped me raise a young boy into a fine, gentle young man. We miss Red and we are giving Star all the love we can and extra brushing and extra grain. and we hope he understands soon the Red is in a better place in the after world, for sure he is safer. While we look for a new buddy for Star, we are sure the right one with find us.

This is one of those learning moments on the farm, life and death and all the love in between.

“Red”  February 2009-April 2017  9N1A1945e