How to Measure a Mile

First you must gather your materials. You will need an an iron plow and a field, but not a square one. Long and skinny. And a pair of oxen yoked together. Try to find oxen who like each other and can tolerate you well enough. Some cows are just mean.  Be wary of oxen who say they are intrinsically motivated self starters who have a passion for teamwork and excellent organizational skills, as this means nothing anymore. Treat your team well, bring treats, but don’t let them bully you — give some oxen an inch and they’ll take a mile.

Start plowing in a straight line. This can prove difficult if your oxen don’t want to move, but this problem is not insurmountable. Persuade them. Good cows. Once they decide to get on with it they’ll stop themselves for a break when they’ve had enough. Lazy cows. And once they stop they will sit there doing nothing and won’t budge for love or money, not until they’re good and ready. Give them whatever they want, and do not allow them to unionize. God help you if they do that.

While the oxen are sitting around and doing whatever pay attention to how lang (long) is your furh (furrow). You’ve just plowed a furlong. Turn your oxen around and do it again. Do it eight times, and count yourself lucky as you won’t get any more than that out of your oxen in a day. Besides, it’s been a good day. Those eight furlongs make one plowed acre in area and add up to one mile in total plowed length. Math! And cardio. Also: nature.

If you cannot source a willing pair of oxen, walk mille passus, 1000 paces, but don’t count every step. Pick a foot and count how many times that foot hits the ground. Do not hop. Congratulations! You have walked a mile and you didn’t have to persuade a stubborn ox to do anything.