Small Farmer's Journal

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February 27, 2017

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Apple Cider, Autumn’s Nectar

While autumn’s beauty is food for our souls, autumn’s harvest provides food for our tables. Along with the many hours and days of canning and freezing our garden produce, harvest time also means apple cider making for our family. We have been making apple cider, or sweet cider as it is commonly called, for six years. Beginning slowly, the demand for our juice has resulted in a production of over six hundred gallons this year.



February 21, 2017

Walki Biodegradable Mulching Paper

New Biodegradable Mulching Paper

Views of any and all modern farming stir questions for me. The most common wonder for me has been ‘how come we haven’t come up with a something to replace plastic?’ It’s used for cold frames, hotbeds, greenhouses, silage and haylage bagging and it is used for mulch. That’s why when I read of this new Swedish innovation in specialized paper mulching I got the itch to scratch and learn more. What follows is what we know. We’d like to know more. LRM



February 22, 2017

Stationary Baler

Stationary Baler: Engineering and Evidence

Our friend, Mark Schwarzburg came by the office with an old wooden box he inherited from his great great great grandfather, Henry Schwarzburg. In it is a lovely, very old working wooden model of the stationary baler Henry helped to invent. Also were found, on old oil-skin paper, beautiful original engineer’s drawings for patent registry; and a brochure for the actual resulting manufactured implement.



February 23, 2017

The Equine Eye

The Equine Eye

The horse’s head is large, with eyes set wide apart at the sides of his head; he seldom sees an object with both eyes at the same time and generally sees a different picture with each eye. In the wild, this double vision was a big advantage, making it difficult for a predator to sneak up on him. He can focus both eyes to the front to watch something, but it takes more effort. Only when making a concentrated effort to look straight ahead does the horse have depth perception as we know it.



February 24, 2017

A Small Good Thing

A Small Good Thing

We shared this video a while back, and now it has been released on Netflix. Check it out! — “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.


Circle of Poison

Circle of Poison

Once a pesticide is banned in the United States for its dangerous health and environmental effects, companies are still permitted to manufacture it for export only. This policy sends a message to the world that American lives are more valuable, yet ironically these toxic pesticides circulate the globe and come back to the US as residues on imported food in the circle of poison.

Narrated by Elizabeth Kucinich and featuring interviews with President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Professor Noam Chomsky, Senator Patrick Leahy, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the film exposes the shocking practice of corporate profit in the banned pesticide trade. It takes viewers across the globe, to India, Mexico, Argentina, Bhutan, and the United States, to document the emotional stories of victims and the inspiring ways communities are fighting back.

News & Weather

  • February 17, 2017

    Popping potential of sorghum

    Eating popcorn has long been synonymous with watching movies. But soon you might find yourself reaching for another popped snack option—popped sorghum. Sorghum is a cereal grain that is becoming more popular in the United States because it’s gluten free ...

  • February 15, 2017

    Cornell University Small Farms Program seeks Farmer Stories for a new column

    The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming and the Cornell Small Farms Program have teamed up to create a new column called “Lessons from the Land,” which first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of the Small Farm Quarterly. ...

  • January 31, 2017

    Founder and CEO of Straus Family Creamery Given Vision Leadership Award

    Albert Straus, founder and CEO of Straus Family Creamery, was awarded one of this year’s Vision Leadership Awards by the Specialty Food Association for spearheading the organic milk movement in the United States in the early 1990s. The Straus family ...


  • Hello from Michigan!

    Dear Lynn Miller and staff, Hello from Michigan! We have only just started to read your Journal, and have really enjoyed it. First off, thank you for your publication. It is always a special occasion when the journal arrives, my ...

  • 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

Upcoming Events

Public Auction – Horsedrawn Farm Machinery, Antiques, Collectibles
Mar 15 all-day
Public Auction – Full Line of Horsedrawn Farm Machinery
Mar 16 @ 9:00 am

• 8 mules     org. Dairy Young Stock
• 30+ HD Mowers
• Belle City Threshing Machine
• IH Grain binder   •   IH Corn Binder
• New Idea Hay Loader
• JD 999 Corn Planter
• IH 200H Manure Spreader
• Emerson Brantingham 2 way Plow
• IH – JD – Minnesota Cultivators
• Oliver 88 gas Tractor, runs very nice
• JD 336 Baler   •   Bear Cat Food Mill
• Oliver 2 bottom trail plow
• Lots of other wagons & misc. farm
machinery. Some antiques & collectible
farm items

First Ever InTents Conference to Help Farmers and Others Grow Their Farmers’ Market Businesses @ Marina Village Conference Center
Mar 19 – Mar 21 all-day
California Farm to School and Garden Conference @ Modesto Centre Plaza
Mar 27 – Mar 29 all-day
Farm Equipment Auction – Dennis Turmon Enterprises @ Bar-Lyn Ranch
Apr 15 all-day

Weights & Measures

Easy Estimates


The average silo is about 12 feet in diameter and 32 feet high. A silo 12 feet by 32 feet will hold about 75 tons of silage – 34 feet high about 80 tons – 36 feet high about 87 tons – 38 feet high about 94 tons – 40 feet high about 101 tons. It is better to build two small silos than one large one.


Determine the number of cubic feet and multiply by 4: then divide by 10. Most corn in cribs is figured by this rule. However, if the cobs are well filled and corn sound and dry, divide by 9. If cobs are not well filled or if corn is damp, divide by 11.


To find the number of bushels of grain in a bin, multiply length by the width by the height, thus ascertaining the number of cubic feet and deduct one-fifth. For instance, a bin containing 10 cubic feet will hold 8 bushels of grain, 8 being the four-fifths of 10.


A box four feet eight inches long, by two feet four inches wide and two feet four inches deep will contain twenty bushels.

A box twenty-four inches long by sixteen inches wide and twenty-eight inches deep will contain a barrel.

A box twenty-six inches long and fifteen and one-half inches wide by eight inches deep will hold a bushel.

A box twelve inches long by eleven and one-half inches wide and nine inches deep will contain a half-bushel.


In Square or Oblong Stacks

Multiply the length in feet by the width in feet and this figure by one-half the height. Divide the result by 300.

In Round Stacks

Square the distance around the stack in yards. Multiply this by 4 times the height in yards. Point off two places from the right and divide the remainder by 20.

My Small Kitchen with Kristi Gilman-Miller

Applesauce Biscuits

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tbsp cold shortening
  • 1/2 cup tart applesauce
  • 1/4 cup thick sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated American cheese

Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together.

Cut in shortening.

Combine egg, applesauce and sour cream.

Add to sifted dry ingredients, mix quickly, turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly for a few seconds.

Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness.

Cut into 2 inch biscuits and place on baking sheet sprinkled with grated cheese. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees F) 15 minutes.

Spotlight On: Livestock

Work Bridle Styles

Work Bridle Styles

Here are fourteen work bridle styles taken from a 1920’s era harness catalog. Regional variants came with different names and configurations, so much so that we have elected to identify these images by letter instead of name so you may reference these pictures directly when ordering harness or talking about repairs or fit concerns with trainers or harness makers. In one region some were know as pigeon wing and others referred to them as batwing or mule bridles.

Happs Plowing A Chance to Share

Happ’s Plowing: A Chance to Share

from issue:

Dinnertime rolled around before we could get people and horses off the field so that results of judging could be announced. I learned a lot that day, one thing being that people were there to share; not many took the competition side of the competition very seriously. Don Anderson of Toledo, WA was our judge — with a tough job handed to him. Everyone was helping each other so he had to really stay on his toes to know who had done what on the various plots.

The Big Hitch

The Big Hitch

In 1925 Slim Moorehouse drove a hitch of 36 Percheron Horses pulling 10 grain wagons loaded with 1477 bushesl of wheat through the Calgary Stampede Parade. It is out intention to honor a man who was a great horseman and a world record holder. The hitch, horses and wagons, was 350 feet in length and he was the only driver.

"Work Horse Handbook, 2nd Edition" by Lynn Miller

Draft Collars and How To Size Them

It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.

Calves that Don't Breathe at Birth

Calves that Don’t Breathe at Birth

from issue:

Heart rate is one way to tell if the calf is in respiratory distress, since it drops as the body is deprived of oxygen. Normal heart rate in a newborn calf is 100 to 120 beats per minute. Place your hand over the lower left side of the ribcage, just behind and above the elbow of his front leg. If heart rate has dropped as low as 40, the calf ’s condition is critical; he needs to start breathing immediately.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 4

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 4

from issue:

Over the last few years of making hay, the mowing, turning and making tripods has settled into a fairly comfortable pattern, but the process of getting it all together for the winter is still developing. In the beginning I did what everyone else around here does and got it baled, but one year I decided to try one small stack. The success of this first stack encouraged me to do more, and now most of my hay is stacked loose.

Living With Horses

Living With Horses

from issue:

The French breed of Ardennes is closer to what the breed has been in the past. The Ardennes has always been a stockier type of horse, rude as its environment. Today the breed has dramatically changed into a real heavy horse. If the Ardennes had an average weight between 550 and 700kg in the first part of the last century, the balance shows today 1000kg and more. Thus the difference between the Ardennes and their “big” sisters, the Brabants in Belgium, or the Trait du Nord in France, has gone.

Camel Power in Georgia

Camel Power in Georgia

from issue:

Last spring we got the bright idea to plow some corn with one of the camels, so we went to the shed and drug out the “Planet Jr. one camel cultivating plow”. My 86 year old Grandfather said “Son, don’t worry about thinning that corn, those camels are going to do a fine job of it, for you!” We plowed corn and I have some video to prove it, and as soon as I quit running over the corn and learned how to “drive the plow” we didn’t lose any more corn!

Haying With Horses

Hitching Horses To A Mower

When hitching to the mower, first make sure it’s on level ground and out of gear. The cutter bar should be fastened up in the vertical or carrier position. This is for safety of all people in attendance during hitching.

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

from issue:

Yogurt making is the perfect introduction into the world of cultured dairy products and cheese-making. You are handling milk properly, becoming proficient at sanitizing pots and utensils, and learning the principles of culturing milk. Doing these things regularly, perfecting your methods, sets you up for cheese-making very well. Cheese-making involves the addition of a few more steps beyond the culturing.

Mini Horse Haying

Mini Horse Haying

from issue:

The first mini I bought was a three year old gelding named Casper. He taught me a lot about what a 38 inch mini could do just by driving me around the neighborhood. He didn’t cover the miles fast, but he did get me there! It wasn’t long before several more 38 inch tall minis found their way home.

The Milk and Human Kindness Stanchion Floor

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Friends with Your Wild Heifer

from issue:

So let’s just say this is your first experience with cows, you’ve gone to your local dairy farm, purchased a beautiful bred heifer who is very skittish, has never had a rope on her, or been handled or led, and you’re making arrangements to bring her home. It ought to be dawning on you at this point that you need to safely and securely convey this heifer to your farm and then you need to keep her confined until she begins to calm down enough that she knows she’s home, and she knows where she gets fed.

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

from issue:

There are hundreds of plants that can be toxic to livestock. Some grow in specific regions while others are more widespread. Some are always a serious danger and others only under certain conditions. Poisoning of livestock depends on several factors, including palatability of the plant, stage of development, conditions in which they grew, moisture content of the plant and the part eaten.

Ayrshire Ambassadors Cooperative

Ayrshire Ambassadors Cooperative

The Ayrshire Ambassadors Cooperative was founded in 2016 by a group of dairymen who want to be outspoken advocates of the Ayrshire breed. Ayrshires are one of the most cost-effective breeds for dairy farmers, as the breed is known for efficiently producing large quantities of high-quality milk, primarily on a forage diet. These vigorous and hardy cows can be found grazing in the sun, rain, and cold while other breeds often seek shelter.

Horseshoeing Part 1A

Horseshoeing Part 1A

Horseshoeing, though apparently simple, involves many difficulties, owing to the fact that the hoof is not an unchanging body, but varies much with respect to form, growth, quality, and elasticity. Furthermore, there are such great differences in the character of ground-surfaces and in the nature of horses’ work that shoeing which is not performed with great ability and care induces disease and makes horses lame.

American Milking Devons and the Flack Family Farm

American Milking Devons and the Flack Family Farm

from issue:

On a sunny early September day I met Doug Flack at his biodynamic and organic farm, just South of Enosburg Falls. Doug is an American Milking Devon breeder with some of the best uddered and well behaved animals I have seen in the breed. The animals are beautifully integrated into his small and diversified farm. His system of management seems to bring out the best in the animals and his enthusiasm for Devon cattle is contagious.

Fjordworks Horse Powered Potatoes Part 2

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes Part Two

These types of team implements for digging potatoes were the first big innovation in horse powered potato harvesting in the mid-19th century. Prior to the horse drawn digger the limitation on how many potatoes a farmer could plant was how many the farm crew could dig by hand. The basic design of these early diggers works so well that new models of this type of digger are once again being manufactured by contemporary horse drawn equipment suppliers.

Ask A Teamster The Bit

Ask A Teamster: The Bit

I work at a farm that uses their team of Percherons to farm, give hayrides, spread manure, etc. One of the horses gets his tongue over the bit. I’ve been told he’s always done this since they had him. I have always thought: #1. You have very little control, and #2. It would hurt! The horse is very well behaved, does his work with his tongue waving in the air, and sometimes gets his tongue back in place, but at that point it’s too late. They use a snaffle bit. Any suggestions?

Journal Guide