Orvan Ox grew up in the New Holstein area of Wisconsin, though he is quite obviously not a Holstein. His ancestry isn't clear, genealogical records not having been all that well kept. Orvan figures he has a generally European ancestry. Some of that might be from France or Southern Germany, along with a significant contribution from the Scottish Highlands.

Not caring for piercings or other marks made him somewhat counter-cultural and that has been the cause of some confusion which continues even now. Not having a nose ring, some would assume he was not a bull. The lack of nose ring caused others to assume he was far more aggressive than he is. Orvan is simply a pretty easygoing bull who just doesn't care for piercings. "Why give someone a handle to control you with?" he asks.

Orvan had little interest in team sports and frustrated more than one coach who thought he might make a good lineman. He found golf a bit more appealing but admits he was never very good at it. He jokes that it was likely that his main interest was the green, looking at it as a potential snack. His education was nothing outstanding and despite the pun potential he has never been to Oxnard or Oxford and never went any further than a tech school where he learned a bit of computing. He quickly points out that he is not a programmer and found that out the hard way, but he does know enough to avoid using Word. Orvan says it has been helpful to know some folks who are programmers, especially with some of the stuff ACME has had him do.

The jobs available to an ox can be somewhat limited, especially to one with no interest in agriculture. Orvan once applied to work in a china shop but was rejected, due to what he claims was simple discrimination. He also was not hired as a power company lineman, due to the possibility of his horns getting too close to live wires. He did spend a couple summers working with a carnival, mainly doing setup and tear-down work, but also spending time in a "See the Minotaur" sideshow and as a part of a ring-toss game where the rings were to be tossed onto his horns. He says the actual work wasn't bad, and the ring toss wasn't too bad, at least when it was for smaller children. After various other perhaps less odd jobs, including one at a quarry, he wound up working for the United States Postal Service for a while. With increasing concern about workplace violence at post offices, he was told that his horns were considered weapons and that something would have to be done about them. Rather than having whimsically changing policies permanently affect his anatomy, Orvan left USPS and eventually wound up at ACME. He claims that along with his USPS experience, his time at the quarry (working around if not directly with explosives) was probably a help in getting in at ACME.

Orvan is a vegetarian, to almost vegan levels, and likes some Indian cuisine as it has a large vegetarian selection beyond the silly idea that vegetarian meals are always salads. He doesn't talk about his private life much, saying it's simply a matter of respecting his family and friends' privacy. In fact, he tends not to talk very much at all. Some have speculated that he has or had a speech impediment but no evidence supports such a claim. When asked about his relative silence he has been known to grin and write, "A closed mouth gathers no foot." before turning his attention elsewhere.

As if delivery work wasn't enough walking around, Orvan enjoys hiking and geocaching. Geocaching, he says, is really just hiking with a purpose. Among his less active pastimes are bottle cap and match book collecting. He says he is hardly a serious collector and really only dabbles, picking up the odd match book or bottle cap when the opportunity arises.