Small Farmer's Journal

Facebook  YouTube

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

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm
Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Here we are using an International straddle row cultivator to hill potatoes.

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

by Ish Shalom of Coquille, OR

Sometimes, or perhaps often, it is easy for us to be so immersed in our own doings and chosen disciplines that it’s tricky to imagine how someone fresh to our workaday world might see our farming. Friend Walt Bernard sent us an article which appeared in a small ‘local’ newspaper. It chronicled the ‘introduction’ of a forester to Walt and Kris’ farm and farming at their Oregon biodynamic open house. The captions are Walt’s, the pictures and text are by Ish Shalom.

I think this set of simple and abbreviated observations might be useful for those of us who need to understand the various ways we might be perceived. While, on another plain, the photos share, with some of us who are working horses, at least a couple of procedures and setups we might not be familiar with. For more info readers can contact Walt at: walt@workhorseworkshops.com Or their websites: workhorseworkshops.com & rowrivervalley.org – LRM

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

You can adapt the lift mechanism of the Pioneer blade attachment to ‘receive’ a variety of tool bars. Here we have a trenching attachment that is useful for planting potatoes or other plantings, like squash. If you plant the squash in trenches, you can later ‘hill’ it when it is big enough thus knocking back in-row weeds. A steerable forecart would be best.

One weekend I attended a Biodynamic meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm in Dorena, Oregon, in the Row River Valley, just east of Cottage Grove. I always enjoy seeing other food growing operations, as this is such an infinitely broad subject, there is always much to learn from others’ experiences.

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Here we have replaced the trenching tool bar with a set of sweeps for cultivating squash.

At this farm, draft horses are used for much of the work. They also have other animals such as cows, chickens and pigs. The pigs root the ground, effectively cleaning it out from any persistent plants, such as bindweed or blackberries. A multi-acre oat field stood with hardly a single weed in it, as it was so effectively rooted by the pigs beforehand. The chickens are also rotated through different areas, cleaning the ground of any weeds or seeds. They use an old delivery truck with the back of it as the chicken coop, so it can simply be driven to a different location with an electric fence erected around it. Besides raising animals for work, meat, dairy and eggs, they also have vegetables, fruits such as strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, and grain crops.

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Kris is discing one of our hoop houses with a single horse using the Groffdale disc, while Walt is training a Suffolk mare that we got from Kathy Noble.

I was most impressed by the use of the draft horses. They occasionally use up to four of them together, pulling large implements across large fields. During my visit, I watched a demonstration of using a single horse for both discing and grain grinding. I got to observe the whole process from harnessing the horse, attaching the harness to the implements, getting work done, and then returning the horse back to the barn. They were using old tractor implements, such as harrows and discs, which were converted for horse use. First the horse was discing field rows to soon be planted. The disc implement was about 4′ or 5′ wide with a chair on it for the driver. After getting the horse and implement in place, Walt, the driver, sat down on the disc using his weight to push the disc into the ground. The horse seemed pretty happy to be contributing work on the farm, discing through the rows faster than I expected. The whole process seemed to not take any longer than firing up a tractor, letting it warm up, using it, and then letting it idle for a while to cool down before shutting it off. After the discing demo, the horse was harnessed to a grain mill, where she walked in a circle around the mill, turning it as it rotated, grinding field corn they had grown for animal feed. I liked the simplicity of the operation, with simple mechanical devices which seemed pretty straight forward to understand how they work and repair if necessary.

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Training this Suffolk mare to skid light poles. This was her first time skidding after watching and driving along side one of our more experienced horses.

I’ve thought about having draft horses out here in Walker Creek Valley, for forestry work of skidding logs mostly. Currently we use a tractor, but it would certainly be more challenging to do this work with one horse power rather than our 28 horsepower tractor. Growing hay and alfalfa to feed a horse in our small forest clearing would be a different story than growing a vegetable garden as we presently do. Instead, I can envision building a collaborative relationship between several regional Ecoforestry operations together with a valley-based local farm which would be able to utilize one or multiple draft horses in the growing of hay that could then feed the horses. The horses could come up into the forest for specific harvesting jobs, just during the dry season, when road compaction would be significantly reduced. While already geared towards horse-scale farming, this local farm could also grow grain and vegetable crops to feed those foresters working on the surrounding forestland. Feed for forest-based livestock such as poultry and goats could be thus grown and distributed as well. Any wood products needed on the farm such as fence posts, lumber, poles, cedar shakes, firewood, etc, could be brought down from the forest with the horses returning to the farm. Building this kind of regional network of farms, forestry operations and community is how I picture the beginnings of Permaculture implemented beyond the home-scale.

Ish Shalom is the Food Forester at Mountain Homestead, a center for development and education of modern American skills through Permaculture implementation on a homestead scale. You can reach him at ish.shalom@gmail.com

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Here is Walt with Ray and Larry, her colt. Except for Walt, all appear to be solid workers and reasonably sound.

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

This is a photo of Karen Martins plowing using a Pioneer plow with Tom and Jerry. We were very fortunate to have Mac MacIntosh’s advice and guidance in obtaining this amazing team of Belgians. In my opinion, there is not a more generous and friendly family than the McIntoshes.

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Kris blind cultivating early fingerling potatoes inside a hoop house.

Spotlight On: People

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…

Building a Community, Building a Barn

Building a Community, Building a Barn

by:
from issue:

One of the most striking aspects of this development is the strength and confidence that comes from this communal way of living. While it is impressive to build a barn in a day it seems even more impressive to imagine building four barns or six, and all the rest of the needs of a community. For these young Amish families the vision of a shared agricultural community is strong, and clear.

The Craft of the Wheelwright

The Craft of the Wheelwright

by:
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. Despite many years experience of renovating all types of wagons and wheels even Gus can still be surprised by the types of items for which new or restored wooden wheels are required.

Fields Farm

Fields Farm

Located within the city limits of Bend, Oregon, Fields Farm is an organic ten acre market garden operation combining CSA and Farmer’s Market sales.

Rainshadow Organics Saralee and the Interns

Rainshadow Organics: Saralee & the Interns

Rainshadow Organics in Central Oregon is a really big small farm. As part of their mission to produce and promote good food, they participate in the Rogue Farm Corps internship program. This season they have 7 interns who made time during their lunch break to speak to us about the program.

Farmrun John Erskine

John Erskine

John Erskine farms with horses in Sequim, WA.

Harnessing the Future

Harnessing the Future

by:
from issue:

En route to a remote pasture where the Belgian draft horses, Prince and Tom, are grazing, we survey the vast green landscape, a fine mist hovering in distant low lying areas. We are enveloped in a profusion of sweet, earthy balance. Interns and other workers start their chores; one pauses to check his smart phone. Scattered about are many animal-powered rustic implements. This rich and agriculturally diverse, peaceful place is steeped in contrasts: modern and ancient.

Mule Powered Wrecker Service

Mule Drawn Wrecker Service

This will only add fuel to those late night discoursians about the relative merits of horses over mules or viciversy. Is the horse the smarter one for hitching a ride or is the mule the smarter one for recognizing the political opportunity which this all represents? In any event these boys know what they are doing, or should, so don’t try this at home without horse tranquilizers. Remember that politics is a luke warm bowl of thin soup.

The Farmer and the Horse

The Farmer & The Horse

In New Jersey — land of The Sopranos, Jersey Shore, and the Turnpike — farmland is more expensive than anywhere else. It’s not an easy place to try to start a career as a farmer. But for a new generation of farmers inspired by sustainability, everything seems possible. Even a farm powered by draft horses.

Central Oregon Locavore Online Fundraiser

CENTRAL OREGON LOCAVORE NEEDS YOUR HELP! We at SFJ can relate.  Central Oregon Locavore is running a GoFundMe campaign, similar to our Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.  Follow the links to learn more about Locavore and to show your support. www.centraloregonlocavore.org www.gofundme.com/locavore Central Oregon Locavore works for an ecologically stable and socially just food system […]

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

by:
from issue:

One weekend I attended a Biodynamic meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm in Dorena, Oregon, in the Row River Valley, just east of Cottage Grove. I always enjoy seeing other food growing operations, as this is such an infinitely broad subject, there is always much to learn from others’ experiences. At this farm, draft horses are used for much of the work.

What We Really Lose

What We Really Lose

by:
from issue:

A few minutes with my Old Man will bring you stories Hollywood could never write. Stories of driving the canned milk to town at age 12 in the family pickup, not having a car to drive, driving new Cadillacs, eating home raised meals, eating at the Four Seasons as Presidents walked out while he was walking in, farming with only horses, then new tractors, then big tractors, then not farming, then doing it again with 50 year old tractors, then once more with no tractors.

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

The Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association hosted their 50th Anniversary Plowing Match at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center in McMinnville, Oregon on April 9, 2016. Small Farmer’s Journal was lucky enough to attend and capture some of the action to share.

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.

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

Sack Sewing with Wayne Ryan

by:
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.

It Is Who We Are

It Is Who We Are

by:
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.

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.

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