Honoring an Ox – Before and After


The minute I laid eyes on him, I knew he was coming home with me.

Below is his before photo.  He had been hanging out in a Southern Iowa barn.  Looking a little gritty and weathered.

Like he had been exposed to way too many winters.  A little elbow grease, bleach, black eyeliner and some turquoise shadow would do him proud.

I lived through the 80’s – so I am familiar with bright turquoise eyeshadow.

I knew I had to have him…  I love a good project!

One problemo, I was with my bestie….  The one who can’t stand the sight of a dead animal.

The one who clutches at her heart with a deep sigh anytime she sees a flattened opossum on the road.

I have tried telling her opossums are great at pretending.

But I’ve never convinced her they are just faking their own death… they can look sooooooo believable.

How was she going to react to the idea of this ancient & filthy skull of an ox sharing the ride all the way back to my place?

I understand that the skull of an animal is not for the faint of heart.

Thank goodness she was a good sport and encouraged me to get him.

I think she secretly saw that I was already planning his makeover.


All we know about him is that he is very – very old and 9 out of 9 people agree he is indeed an ox.

I can’t remember the last ox I saw… anywhere.

The only oxen I have ever seen were pulling carts somewhere in the Serengeti on the National Geographic channel.  Or in old western movies with the parade of wagons headed for the gold rush.

So how did he end up in a barn in Southern Iowa?

Maybe he was part of a team that pulled a family of pioneers in a Conestoga wagon heading for the Wild Wild West with dreams of striking gold…

but because of blizzard conditions, they only made it as far as Iowa.

After riding halfway across the country in a wagon, homesteading on the fertile soil of Iowa might have looked like the better option.

Speculation of whatever he did during his day will be the subject of many future conversations as our guests admire him and all his aged imperfections.

Here he is today, as he proudly adorns his new makeover and keeps watch over the bar at the Lodge.



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All photos, thoughts, experiences, and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.

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  1. Mary Kay

    What an amazing transformation of that beautiful beast. He was quite the majestic fella to begin with, but oh my gosh, look at him now!

    I like to think he was an invaluable and much loved member of his family and lived to a ripe old age.
    You’ve done him proud…as I knew you would 😊

    *A skull I can handle haha…taxidermy…not so much

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Mary Kay – It is fun to imagine him pulling a family across the country. Or maybe hauling a load of stuff that wouldn’t fit in the Conestoga wagon.
      Thank you for being a good sport. He seems pretty happy in our bar!

  2. What a stunning paint job, Teresa – the ox would be so proud. I did have to chuckle…on my first trip to Santa Fe, I saw my first cow skull and just had to bring it home…I cradled the skull in my arms on the plane to Brooklyn. Once home, I proudly displayed the skull on the wall totally freaking out my little dog…I guess the humidity of NYC brought out all the odors of that skull…it kind of was a disaster. So glad I found your blog. 🙂

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Oh, Jeanne – thank you so very much for your sweet comment! I cannot even imagine cradling a skull on a plane. For sure you gave the other passengers something to talk about, perhaps YOU were the highlight of their journey!!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave such a sweet comment.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Thank you Molly – You know as I look at his before photo – I think he looked good then too. But for hanging out inside the house he needed a little cleaning up!
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  3. Donna Fincher

    You definitely are a natural. He is gorgeous and you brought him back to life. I would love knowing his life story. My emagination can go crazy wild, in a good way, thinking of different adventures this fella went on & with who he went on them with.
    Thank you for sharing and a beautiful artist.
    ❤Donna Fincher

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Well Donna – YOU were my inspiration! I would have never even thought about decorating a skull – until I was so very impressed by your work!
      Thank you so much for your kind words, but you are the master!

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