Westmoreland Drive Shed
The drive shed was built in the early to mid nineteenth century and used by the First Congregational Church of Westmoreland, New York. The congregation housed their horses and wagons in the shed during church services and other gatherings. Drive sheds were often found at churches in the nineteenth century, but since the invention of automobiles, they have become extremely rare. Originally, this shed probably had seven bays but has been shortened to include fewer bays today.
For most of the nineteenth century, animals served as the main source of power on the farm. Teams of horses and oxen pulled carts with heavy loads, plowed acres of land, and drove the family into town and to church.
The Farmers’ Museum has three Percheron Draft horses. The Percheron were commonly used on farms for the heavy work. Today, our horses plow fields and pull the wagon ride for visitors here at the museum. One of our horses, Zeb, is retired and no longer has to pull the wagon. Now, we have two young Percheron, Dick and Dock, who work the farm. This breed of horse is know for its strength, intelligence, and willingness to do hard work.
In the 1800’s, oxen were a more common work animal than teams of horses. They were very strong and did the brunt of the heavy moving on the farms.
The Farmers’ Museum regularly raises and trains teams of oxen from birth. We continue the tradition of training them from a very young age to work together. This is done by placing the pair of young steer together in a yoke. As the steer grow, new and larger yokes are used. To be considered oxen the pair of steer must be four years old.
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