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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PST

Another Barn Falls In

Another Barn Falls In

Another Barn Falls In

by Brandt Ainsworth of Franklinville, NY
artwork by Brandt’s son, Nicholas

The barn was built around a century ago. A pair of double doors on the front flapped when the wind blew, and a short service door was on the side. It wasn’t a big barn, about 30 feet wide by 40 feet long with a small hay mow above. It had a couple of windows for light, and of course a window in the peak. There was a hitching rail outside that gave it a certain welcoming charm. A charm that seemed to say, “tie up to the rail, and c’mon in.” Maybe it looked welcoming because it had more the shape of a house, than the shape we picture when we think, “barn.” It wasn’t really much of a barn, but it was different, and I always admired it. I often wondered if it was a blacksmith shop in the old days, despite being so far from the village.

I saw the old barn just yesterday, when I was headed home with a load of fence posts. Nobody was around, so I tied the team to a rotted pair of ropes on the the hitching rail and poked around. I fought with small boxelder and sumac trees as I walked around the outside. Looking from the South, it was clear the barn had a definite lean; probably beyond repair. Probably nobody cared anyway, but me. The roof was in good shape, and after nosing around inside, I figured a little work could save it. I knew, however, that there’s nobody who cares enough to do the little work.

I climbed the ladder to the mow, and saw that it was empty except for an old pair of fly nets. I watched my step as I walked around the hay mow. I saw the name, “Edgar”, carved into a rafter with a jack knife. I strained to get close to see if there was a last name I could make out, but slipped on some hay chaff. I caught my footing before my leg went down the hay chute. It took me back to when I was a boy carving my name with a jack knife in an old barn not far away. It also took me back to when I was a 13 year old boy, who became a thirteen year old man when my Dad fell down a hay chute and spent two weeks in the hospital; leaving me to run the farm mostly by myself. My rattling around caused the door to the mow to blow open giving enough light on the wall so I could read some faint words written in pencil. The lettering was the kind taught in a one room school house, and said: “first load of hay put in this barn on June 29, 1914.”

I went back down the ladder. There wasn’t much left downstairs either. A moth-chewed, tick-faced collar, a set of dusty hame covers and various other draft horse supplies nobody bothered to take when they left. The old cider barrel was still in the rafters by the door, but there was no more of the good hard cider in it. A couple of tin cups hung on nails by the barrel, one I think used to be a strip cup for milking, before the old timers used it just for the more fun chore of consuming last fall’s apple crop. I thought about taking one of the cups with me as a keepsake, before the old barn falls in, but it would look out of place with nothing hanging from the nail where the cup hung for so long, so I left it there. My tribute to the old cider drinkers who liked to haunt this barn.

I walked back out the front doors that were stuck open, and gathered up my team. I gave the old barn one last look, before I remembered that I had fence to build so I wouldn’t have to chase cows. As I drove posts, and pounded staples, I thought about what barns used to mean.

Our language is full of expressions about barns. We often use them, but don’t think of the meaning. A show off is said to think of himself: “He thinks he’s so big he can eat hay over the big beam.” A poor shot “can’t hit the broad side of a barn.” Lots of fun stuff happened “out behind the barn.” One with poor manners was “raised in a barn.” A lively event is “a real barn burner.” There’s also proverbs like: “Rain in May – barn full of hay, a wet June will change that tune.” We use the language, but forget how central barns were to our lives.

Growing up on the farm, we always appreciated the content feeling of a full barn in the fall. When the hay mow was full, the straw mow up to the first hip, the grain bins heaped up and screened off from cats, and all the livestock was inside. It was a feeling of accomplishment, relief, contentment, pride, safety, and readiness. “Bring on winter, we’ve got all we need right here in this barn.”

The old timers were justified in their pride for the barns they built and filled. These men were farmers who built these impressive structures, they weren’t professional engineers, designers, masons or even carpenters. They were men that tilled the fields and raised stock who built some of the most impressive, efficient, and picturesque architecture in America. Whatever the type, one hip, two hip, round roof, gamble roof, mail pouch tobacco painted barns, stone walls, board siding or whatever you picture in your mind. You have your old barn, and I have mine. No matter how different the design, it’s still the same.

We’re in the process of building a barn as I write this. The same 30 feet by 40 feet as the nearby barn that’s about to fall in. It will have a good size mow, and more stalls than I need for my horses and oxen, and some overhang lean-tos for equipment. The truth is it will be a dream come true. My first real “horse barn,” not a modified dairy barn. I can picture leaning the collars against the door, drying the sweaty pads in the sun. I can see, possibly next spring, unhooking the black oxen from the Leroy plow, after turning perfect furrows all morning, and taking off the ten and a half inch yoke in the doorway, while the team waits patiently. I can also see, someday, coming home with the big trophy from the horse pull and putting it just inside the door as I pet the team after winning a big pull.

I’m sure the old timers had similar dreams when they built their masterpieces. Maybe their dreams were more practical than mine, my dreams are always bigger than my actions. Maybe their dreams were of simple self-sufficiency with the new barn. I can’t be sure. I can be sure, however, that these men would roll in their graves if they saw their once stately barns falling in, or being torn down to save on taxes. Maybe I should downsize my barn dreams to a simple dream of not having to watch this barn fall in someday while nobody seems to care but me.

Brandt Ainsworth trains horses and oxen.

Spotlight On: Equipment & Facilities

Haying With Horses

Haying With Horses

If the reader is considering the construction of a barn we encourage you to give more than passing thought to allowing the structure of the gable to be open enough to accommodate the hanging of a trolley track. It is difficult or impossible to retrofit a truss-built barn, which may have many supports crisscrossing the inside gable, to receive hay jags. At least allowing for the option in a new construction design will leave the option for loose hay systems in the future.

LittleField Notes Spring 2013

LittleField Notes: Spring 2013

by:
from issue:

If we agree that quality of plowing is subject to different criteria at different times and in different fields, then perhaps the most important thing to consider is control. How effectively can I plow to attain my desired field condition based on my choice of plow? The old time plow manufacturers understood this. At one time there were specific moldboards available for every imaginable soil type and condition.

400 Hen Laying House

400-Hen Laying House

by: ,
from issue:

One of the hardest problems in successful poultry keeping is to maintain the vigor and health of the flock. Housing has particular bearing on this problem. If the laying-house is poorly lighted, has insufficient ventilation, or is overcrowded, the health of the fowls will be affected. The purpose of housing is to increase productiveness. In order to accomplish this the fowls must be comfortable.

Happs Plowing A Chance to Share

Happ’s Plowing: A Chance to Share

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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.

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.

McD Lime Spreader

Parts lists and illustrations are included in this comprehensive overview

Fencing for Horses

Fencing for Horses

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from issue:

The first wire we tried was a small gauge steel wire which was not terribly satisfactory with horses. Half the time they wouldn’t see it and would charge on through. And the other half of the time they would remember getting shocked by something they hadn’t seen there and would refuse to come through when we were standing there with gate wide open. We realized that visibility was an important consideration when working with horses.

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

by:
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Making a pair of tongs was a milestone for a lot of blacksmiths. In times gone past a Journeyman Smith meant just that, a smith that went upon a journey to learn more skills before taking a masters test. When the smith appeared at the door of a prospective employer, he/she would be required to demonstrate their skills. A yard stick for this was to make a pair of tongs.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 1

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 1

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from issue:

For the last ten years, I have made hay mostly with a single horse. This has not necessarily been out of choice, as at one time I had hoped to be farming on a larger scale with more horses. Anyway, it does little good to dwell on ‘what if ’. The reality is that I am able to make hay, and through making and modifying machinery, I probably have a better understanding of hay making and the mechanics of draught.

John Deere Side Delivery Rake No 594

John Deere Side Delivery Rake No. 594

from issue:

When starting a new side rake, turn the reel by hand to be sure it revolves freely and the teeth do not strike the stripper bars. Then throw the rake in gear and turn the wheel by hand to see that the tooth bars and gears run free. Breakage of parts, which causes serious delay and additional expense, can be avoided by taking these precautions before entering the field.

McCormick-Deering No 7 Mower Manual in English & French

McCormick-Deering No. 7 Mower Manual in English & French

Instructions for Setting Up and Operating the McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 VERTICAL LIFT TWO-HORSE MOWERS — Instructions pour le Montage et le Fonctionnement des FAUCHEUSES A DEUX CHEVAUX McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 À RELEVAGE VERTICAL

Delivery Wagon Plans

Delivery Wagon Plans

from issue:

While the low down delivery wagon is an improvement, the objectionable features are increased. But with all those objections the low down wagons increase every year. Their convenience outweighs all other objections. They are handy for country delivery and are fitted up inside to suit either grocers, bakers, butchers or milk delivery, or a combination of the four.

Cole One Horse Planters

Cole One Horse Planters

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from issue:

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.

Barbed Wire History and Varieties

Book Excerpt: The invention of barb wire was the most important event in the solution of the fence problem. The question of providing fencing material had become serious, even in the timbered portions of the country, while the great prairie region was almost wholly without resource, save the slow and expensive process of hedging. At this juncture came barb wire, which was at once seen to make a cheap, effective, and durable fence, rapidly built and easily moved.

The Magna Grecia Hoe

The Magna Grecia Hoe

by:
from issue:

Last spring I put a handle on a curious gardening tool I picked up at the FALCI company in Italy. Ashley, our 17-year-old (a seasoned gardener and enthusiastic digging fork user), was first to try it. She came back excitedly in a rather short time with a request: “Call to Italy right away and have them send us more of these.” “These” are the Magna Grecia hoes, popular in the Calabria region of South Italy but, interestingly, known in very few other places.

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.

Ask A Teamster Tongue Length

Ask A Teamster: Tongue Length

My forecart pole is set up for draft horses. My husband thinks we should cut the pole off to permanently make it fit better to these smaller horses. What would be your opinion? Like your husband, my preference would be a shorter tongue for a small team like your Fjords. The dynamics and efficiency of draft are better if we have our horse(s) close to the load. A shorter tongue will also reduce the overall length of your outfit, thereby giving you better maneuverability and turning dynamics.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT