Small Farmer's Journal

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October 24, 2016

Oxen Experiences

Oxen Experiences

Some things I have learned about working with oxen as with any other living thing is to treat them with some respect. Especially hump-backed cattle which I prefer. Be firm and gentle, but consistent, realizing you could be seriously injured if they chose. Be patient while teaching them what you want them to do, and then insisting every time that they do what you want them to do every time.



October 25, 2016

Livery and Feed

Livery & Feed

A livery stable, for the benefit of those who never heard of one, was an establishment which catered to horses. It boarded them, doctored them, and bred them, whenever any of these services were required. It also furnished “rigs” — a horse and buggy or perhaps a team, for anyone who wished to ride, rather than walk, about the town or countryside. It was a popular service for traveling men who came into town on the railway train and wanted to call on customers in cross-road communities.



October 26, 2016

A Pony-Powered Garden Cart

A Pony-Powered Garden Cart

One of the challenges I constantly face using draft ponies is finding appropriately sized equipment. Mya is a Shetland-Welsh cross, standing at 11.2 hands. Most manure spreaders are big and heavy and require a team of horses. I needed something small and light and preferably wheeled to minimize impact to the land. My husband and I looked around our budding small farm for something light, wheeled, cheap, and available, and we quickly noticed our Vermont-style garden cart.



October 27, 2016

Horse Powered Snow Scoop

Horse Powered Snow Scoop

The scoop has two steel sides about 5 feet apart sitting on steel runners made out of heavy 2 X 2 angle iron, there is a blade that is lowered and raised by use of a foot release which allows the weight of the blade to lower it and then lock in the down position and the forward motion of the horses to raise it and lock it in the up position. This is accomplished by a clever pivoting action where the tongue attaches to the snow scoop.



October 21, 2016

The Milk and Human Kindness Stanchion Floor

The Milk and Human Kindness: Plans for an Old Style Wooden Stanchion Floor

The basic needs that we are addressing here are as follows: To create a sunny, airy (not drafty), dry, convenient, accessible place to bring in our cow or cows, with or without calves, to be comfortably and easily secured for milking and other purposes such as vet checks, AI breeding, etc. where both you and your cow feel secure and content. A place that is functional, clean, warm and inviting in every way.


On the Anatomy of Thrift Part 3: Fat & Salt

On the Anatomy of Thrift: Fat & Salt

WARNING: contains animal slaughter. It is very humane and not very graphic, but may affect sensitive souls. – SFJ

On the Anatomy of Thrift is an instructional series Farmrun created with Farmstead Meatsmith. Their principal intention is instruction in the matters of traditional pork processing. In a broader and more honest context, OAT is a deeply philosophical manifesto on the subject of eating animals.

Fat & Salt is the third and final video in the series. It is the conceptual conclusion to the illustrated, narrated story that weaves throughout the entire series, and deals instructionally in the matters of preserving pork.

A Farmrun Production by Andrew Plotsky

News & Weather

  • October 24, 2016

    OTA Calls for Federal Policies to Ensure “Organic” Always Means “Organic”

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 19, 2016) – The rigorous and proven regulatory system of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program has established a deep trust in USDA certified organic food products by American consumers. Now, consumers need to ...

  • October 20, 2016

    Agriculture: Critical to our Communities, our Economy, and our Landscape

    Agriculture is critical to our communities, our economy, our landscape, and our way of life here in Vermont. As Vermonters, we have grown accustomed to a vital and robust agricultural lifestyle. But when I leave our state, in my travels ...

  • October 17, 2016

    Soil: More Than Meets the Eye

    Are you unaware of what is underfoot? Soil is all around us and easy to ignore. However, locked inside is a dynamic ecosystem of amazing complexity. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) October 1st Soils Matter blog post explains ...


  • Cheval de Merens Revisited

    In the Fall ’97 issue of SFJ you printed an article on the Cheval de Merens, the all black horse of the French Pyrenees. I was immediately obsessed by their beautiful stature, a very strong draft-type-looking horse with powerful legs ...

  • Black Walnuts All ‘Round

    Dear Lynn, In the Summer 2014 SFJ there is an article by Glenn Dahlem about the black walnut (p. 62). If I may, there are a few additions I would like to make regarding using black walnuts. First, the harvesting. From ...

  • Keep ‘Em Coming

    Super magazine, Lynn and Kristi!! I love the content, and I can’t wait for the next issue in my mailbox. My best to you. Bob Langness Broomfield, CO

  • A Large Part

    Mr Miller – My name is George Bristol. I served for 38 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. I retired in August 2013 as a Colonel and am still working in special operations overseas. I am writing ...

Upcoming Events

6th National Farm-Based Network Gathering @ Concord-Carlisle High School, Concord, MA
Nov 4 – Nov 6 all-day

The Gathering invites educators, farmers, nonprofit organization staff, parents, nutrition practitioners, policy makers, students, and more to come together to share skills and resources, build relationships, and celebrate the vibrant field of farm-based education.

The Gathering will also welcome many members of our host community, from teachers and food service professionals, to parents, students and local food advocates who seek engagement with the transformative work of farm-based education. Organizers expect 300-500 to travel from several states and internationally to attend components of the Gathering, with heavy representation from Massachusetts and New England.

Green Festival Expo @ Pier 35
Nov 11 – Nov 13 all-day
Tilth Annual Conference @ Wenatchee Conference Center, Wenatchee, WA
Nov 11 – Nov 13 all-day
Change Beyond the Plate 2016 @ Château Élan Winery & Resort, Braselton, GA
Dec 6 – Dec 8 all-day

School Food FOCUS is a national collaborative of large school districts across the country. Together we are transforming school food by increasing access to more healthful, regionally sourced and sustainably produced food for our nation’s school children. Through the power of procurement we leverage market demand to drive positive and impactful food system change.

Change Beyond the Plate convenes over 250 school food professionals, institutional purchasers, government allies, industry changemakers and food system thought leaders.

Now in its 6th year, our National Gathering is a unique space for attendees to share innovative procurement strategies, connect with supply chain leaders and strengthen the school food movement. Join us!

Green Festival Expo @ Oregon Convention Center
Dec 9 – Dec 11 all-day

Weights & Measures

Dry Measure

2 Pints = 1 Quart

8 Quarts = 1 Peck

4 Pecks = 1 Bushel

36 Bushels = 1 Chaldron

2,150.42 Cubic In. = 1 Standard Bushel

1 Cubic Foot = App. 4/5 Bushel

My Small Kitchen with Kristi Gilman-Miller

Bittersweet Chocolate Coating

  • 3 squares Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. water

Melt chocolate in small bowl over hot water; cool.

Bring sugar and water to a boil and boil 1/2 minute. Cool until lukewarm.

Add gradually to chocolate, stirring until blended.

Cool, stirring occasionally.

Makes enough frosting to cover tops of 16 bars, 4×1 inches.

Spotlight On: People

Richard Douglass, Self-sufficient Farmer

Richard Douglass, Self-sufficient Farmer

from issue:

I’ve got two teams of Belgians that power all the things on the farm. I don’t have a tractor, I don’t have a truck or anything like that. Everything must be done by them. I have two buggy horses that I use for transportation. I have a one-seater buggy for when I’m going into work or into town by myself and then I have a two-seater one for when I’m with the kids.

Farmrun - Sylvester Manor

Sylvester Manor

Sylvester Manor is an educational farm on Shelter Island, whose mission is to cultivate, preserve, and share these lands, buildings, and stories — inviting new thought about the importance of food, culture and place in our daily lives.

Today I Prepare

Today I Prepare by Lynn Miller Summering towards seated moments found without splinter found with or without care. No audience save the critical unbecoming self. Were it a long race to now, surprised to be amongst the last running with a chance to go to the target beyond end, tanks full with cupped felt. So […]

UCSC Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz is thrilled to welcome applications to the 50th Anniversary year of the UCSC Farm and Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. The 39 apprentices each year arrive from all regions of the US and abroad, and represent a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and interests. We have a range of course fee waivers available to support participation in the Apprenticeship.

Beating the Beetles – War & Peace in a Houston Garden

Blooming that is, unless the cucumber beetles arrive first.
And arrive they have … “At first I thought they looked like big, yellow lady bugs.” Paul said, “Then I looked…

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 3

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 3

Working with horses can and should be safe and fun and profitable. The road to getting there need not be so fraught with danger and catastrophe as ours has been. I hope the telling of our story, in both its disasters and successes will not dissuade but rather inspire would-be teamsters to join the horse-powered ranks and avoid the pitfalls of the un-mentored greenhorn.

It Is Who We Are

It Is Who We Are

from issue:

It is NOT a small world, it is a BIG world, as wide and various as you can possibly imagine. We are not alone. When we feel ourselves shut down, crowded by worry and a sense of failure, it would serve us well to remember Bulldog’s admonition, “Boss, never give up, no matter what, never give up.” Anyway, how could we? Who would put up the hay? Who would unharness the team? Who would milk the cows? Who would wax the cheese? Who would feed those woolly pigs? It’s got to be us, after all it is who we are.

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

from issue:

Watching Wayne’s sure hands it was easy for me to forget that this is a 91 year old man. There was strength, economy, elegance and thrift in his every stroke.

Farmrun John Erskine

John Erskine

John Erskine farms with horses in Sequim, WA.

The Craft of the Wheelwright

The Craft of the Wheelwright

from issue:

In these days of standardization and the extensive use of metal wheels you might think there is little call for the centuries old craft of wheelwrighting, but the many demands on the skills of Gus Kitson in Suffolk, England, show this to be very far from the truth.

A Small Good Thing

A Small Good Thing

“A Small Good Thing” explores how the American Dream has reached its end and how for most of us, greater material wealth and upward mobility are no longer possible. To find out what is taking its place, this feature documentary follows six people in one community who have recast their lives so they can live with a sense of meaning.


German Version of Horse Progress Days: Pferdestarke – Part One

There is a rather neat phrase in German – ‘wenn schon, denn schon’ – which literally translates as ‘enough already, then already;’ but what it actually means is ‘if a something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. That would be a fitting description of Pferdestark, the German version of Horse Progress Days.

Traditional Agriculture in Siberia

Traditional Agriculture in Siberia

from issue:

The agricultural system of the Old Believers has long been one of hand labor. Their homesteads (hozyastvas) were not intended for tractors or horses, with the possible exception of their larger potato fields. Traditionally the small peasant hozyastva has its roots in hand labor, and this has helped maintain the health of the land. Understanding the natural systems is easier when one’s hands are in the soil every day as opposed to seeing the land from the seat of a tractor.

Kombit: The Cooperative

Kombit: The Cooperative

We received word of a new environmental film, Kombit: The Cooperative, about deforestation in Haiti — and an international effort to combat it by supporting small farmers on the island.

B. Adroit's Profiles in Passion: Herscel Gouda

B. Adroit’s Profiles in Passion: Herscel Gouda

Excerpt: Um, ya, you’re just gonna have to read this one.

Farm Drum? What’s That?

An ever changing mixture of hints, thoughts, howdies and hoohahs.

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 2

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 2

It is always fascinating and at times a little disconcerting to watch how seamlessly the macro-economics of trying to make a living as a farmer in such an out-of-balance society can morph us into shapes we never would have dreamed of when we were getting started. This year we will be putting in a refrigerated walk-in cooler which will allow us to put up more storage-share vegetables.

Journal Guide