Small Farmer's Journal

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September 19, 2016

Cole One Horse Planters

Cole One Horse Planters

The most populous single horse planting tools were made by Planet Junior. But they were by no means the only company producing these small farm gems. Most manufacturers included a few models and some, like Planet Junior, American and Cole specialized in the implement. What follows are fourteen different models from Cole’s, circa 1910, catalog. We published ten of these in volume 30 number three of Small Farmer’s Journal.



September 20, 2016

Interpreting Your Horse's Body Language

Interpreting Your Horse’s Body Language

The person who works closely with horses usually develops an intuitive feel for their well-being, and is able to sense when one of them is sick, by picking up the subtle clues from the horse’s body language. A good rider can tell when his mount is having an off day, just by small differences in how the horse travels or carries himself, or responds to things happening around him. And when at rest, in stall or pasture, the horse can also give you clues as to his mental and physical state.



September 21, 2016

English Sheaf Knots

English Sheaf Knots

Long ago when grain was handled mostly by hand, the crop was cut slightly green so seed did not shatter or shake loose too easily. That crop was then gathered into ‘bundles’ or ‘sheafs’ and tied sometimes using a handful of the same grain for the cording. These sheafs were then gathered together, heads up, and leaned upon one another to form drying shocks inviting warm breezes to pass through. In old England, the field workers took great pride in their work and distinctive sheaf knots were designed and employed.



September 22, 2016

Cultivating Questions Cultivator Setups and Deer Fencing

Cultivating Questions: Cultivator Set-ups and Deer Fencing

We know all too well the frustration of putting your heart and soul into a crop only to have the wildlife consume it before you can get it harvested let alone to market. Our farm sits next to several thousand acres of state game lands and is the only produce operation in the area. As you can imagine, deer pressure can be intense. Neighbors have counted herds of 20 or more in our pastures.



September 23, 2016

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

As we start, consider a few things when building a pto cart. Are big drive tires necessary? Is a lot of weight needed? Imagine the cart in use. Try to see it working where you normally go and where you almost never go. Will it be safe and easy to mount or dismount? Can you access the controls of the implement conveniently? Is it easy to hook and unhook? Where is the balance point? I’m sure you will think of other details as you daydream about it.


On the Anatomy of Thrift: Side Butchery

On the Anatomy of Thrift: Side Butchery

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.

Side Butchery is the first in the series, and was the cornerstone around which the entire concept blossomed. It is the most explicitly instructional of all three, and builds on the theory that was established in the fundraising video, exploring the historical context of pork to the home kitchen.

A Farmrun Production by Andrew Plotsky

News & Weather

  • September 12, 2016

    Plate Of The Union Kicks Off “Battleground States Food Truck Tour” in New Hampshire

    Plate of the Union, a collaborative campaign calling on the next president to take action to fix our nation’s food system, launched its “Battleground States Food Truck Tour” stopping in Portsmouth, Londonderry, and Hanover, New Hampshire. The event featured a ...

  • September 8, 2016

    Helping Farmers Improve Air Quality

    High temperature environments present a challenge related to nitrogen, a common agricultural fertilizer. Those regions lose an unusual amount of nitrogen to the air. This creates two big problems. One, farmers need to use more fertilizer, which is an added ...

  • September 1, 2016

    Cowpeas are the Answer. What’s the Question?

    Available cropland, and the growing season, is limited. Strained soils are in need of rejuvenation. Water can be scarce. Yet the world’s nutritional needs continue to grow, along with its population. Enter the cowpea. A modest but versatile crop, cowpeas, ...


  • 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 ...

  • Looking For a Young Woman To Write To

    Dear Lynn and Staff; I want to first off tell you all how much I appreciate your Journal, at times your Journal is that little piece of sanity that keeps me going in this insane world. I always look forward to ...

Upcoming Events

29th Annual Mississippi Pecan Festival @ Richton, MS
Sep 23 – Sep 25 all-day
Mother Earth News Fair @ Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Seven Springs, PA
Sep 23 – Sep 25 all-day
Young Living Draft Horse Show @ Mona, UT
Sep 28 – Oct 2 all-day


Fryeburg Fair @ Fryeburg, ME
Oct 2 – Oct 9 all-day
Keystone International Livestock Exposition @ Harrisburg, PA
Oct 6 – Oct 8 all-day


Weights & Measures

Tool Box for Quick Repairs

Tool Box for Quick Repairs

My Small Kitchen with Kristi Gilman-Miller

Shartlesville Pumpkin Pie

  • 1/2 recipe Plain Pastry
  • 2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 cup whiskey
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Line pie pan with pastry.

Combine pumpkin, salt, sugar, egg yolks and cinnamon and beat for 5 minutes.

Add cream, whiskey and butter and mix well.

Sprinkle cornstarch over stiffly beaten egg whites and fold into first mixture.

Pour into pastry shell.

Bake in very hot oven (450 degrees F) 10 minutes; reduce temperature to moderate (350 degrees F) and bake about 30 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

Spotlight On: Farming Systems & Approaches


No Starving Children!

You’d never be able to harvest the broccoli or the hay or milk the cows or make the cheese if it were subject to government process. Not only are our industrial farms too big…

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 2

How do you learn the true status of that farm with the “for sale” sign? Here are some important pieces of information for you to learn about a given selling farm. The answers will most probably tell you how serious the seller is.

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…

Cultivating Questions Alternative Tillage & Inter-Seeding Techniques

Cultivating Questions: Alternative Tillage & Inter-Seeding Techniques

Our intention is not to advocate the oddball living mulches we use with this single row inter-seeding system, but just to show how it is possible to utilize the between-row areas to improve insect habitat, reduce erosion, conserve moisture, fix some nitrogen, and grow a good bit of extra organic matter. If nothing else, experimenting with these alternative practices continues to keep farming exciting as we begin our twentieth season of bio-extensive market gardening.

On-Farm Meat Processing

The demand for fresh, local meat products – with no taint of industrial process – is absolutely staggering.

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.

Low Tillage Radish Onions

Low Tillage Radish Onions

from issue:

The radishes came up quick, filling the garden canopy completely that fall, and the following spring we found the plot was clean of weeds and rows of open holes were left where the radish roots had been growing. Well, we had a few extra onion plants that spring and decided to plant them in these holes, since we already had very clear lines laid out for us and a clean seedbed. What we got were the best looking onions that have ever come out of our gardens.

Russian Dacha Gardening

Russian Dacha Gardens

from issue:

Russian household agriculture – dacha gardening – is likely the most extensive system of successful food production of any industrialized nation. This shows that highly decentralized, small-scale food production is not only possible, but practical on a national scale and in a geographically large and diverse country with a challenging climate for growing. Most of the USA has far more than the 110 days average growing season that Russia has.

LittleField Notes Fall 2011

LittleField Notes: Fall 2011

from issue:

There is a certain set of skills and knowledge that tend to fall through the cracks of your average farm how-to book. Books of a more specialized nature are also abundant but often seem to take a fairly simple subject and make it seem daunting in scope and detail. What follows are a few tidbits of knowledge that I have found useful over the years – the little things that will inevitably need to be learned at some point in the farmer education process.


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.


Wild Potatoes and Calcium

Wild potatoes bring increased calcium for better tubers.Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Cultivating Questions Cultivator Setups and Deer Fencing

Cultivating Questions: Cultivator Set-ups and Deer Fencing

We know all too well the frustration of putting your heart and soul into a crop only to have the wildlife consume it before you can get it harvested let alone to market. Our farm sits next to several thousand acres of state game lands and is the only produce operation in the area. As you can imagine, deer pressure can be intense. Neighbors have counted herds of 20 or more in our pastures.

Wheel Hoe

The Wheel Hoe: A Tool For Shallow Tillage

When we bought this little farm I soon realized I needed a wheel hoe. The size of the horse and tractor dictated space wasting wide rows in crop production and, to some degree, so does my two wheeled tractor.


Starting Seeds

From Dusty Shelves: A WWII era article from Farming For Security

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

from issue:

After three or four years we could see that the nature of our farming practices would continue to have detrimental effects on our soils. We were looking for a new approach, a routine that would be sustainable, rather than a rescue treatment for an ongoing problem. We decided to convert our fields to permanent planting beds with grassy strips in between where all tractor, foot and irrigation pipe traffic would be concentrated.

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 1

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 1

I am certainly not the most able of dairymen, nor the most skilled among vegetable growers, and by no means am I to be counted amongst the ranks of the master teamsters of draft horses. If there is anything remarkable about my story it is that someone could know so little about farming as I did when I started out and still manage to make a good life of it.


Planting Calendar and Other Diagrams

From Dusty Shelves: A 1943 calendar for seeding your vegetable garden.

Journal Guide