The oxen are usually black and are the remnants of a particular breed, the outcome of a long and slow experiment in getting the right sort of draught animal. The ploughs themselves, as Jefferies says, "must have been put together bit by bit in the slow years—slower than the ox.... How many thousand, thousand clods must have been turned in the furrows before ... the curve to be given to this or that part grew upon the mind, as the branch grows upon the tree!"
But the Downs are not scarred to any great extent by cultivation. The sheep and the birds are mostly in sole possession and are almost the only living moving things on the hills. The fox, though at one time common, is now very rarely seen, for game, with the disappearance of gorse and bramble, has almost vanished, and other beasts of prey, weasel and stoat, shun the open uplands where the only enemy of field mouse and vole is the eagle of the south country, the peregrine falcon.