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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

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: Book Reviews

Horse Sense for Plain Farming

Horse Sense for Plain Farming

Book Review – The New Horse-Powered Farm by Stephen Leslie: Working with horses is not something you can learn exclusively through watching DVD training videos and attending workshops and seminars. These things and experiences can be very useful as auxiliary aids to our training, but they cannot replace the value of a long-term relationship with a skilled mentor.

Art of Working Horses

Lynn Miller’s New Book: Art of Working Horses

Art of Working Horses, by Lynn R. Miller, follows on the heels of his other eight Work Horse Library titles. This book tells the inside story of how people today find success working horses and mules in harness, whether it be on farm fields, in the woods, or on the road. Over 500 photos and illustrations accompany an anecdote-rich text which makes a case for the future of true horsepower.

Apples of North America

Freedom has been called the ugly duckling of disease-resistant apple varieties. But that shouldn’t detract from its many merits. These include the freedom from apple-scab infection for which it was named, a high rate of productivity, and an ability to serve as a good pollinator for its more attractive sibling, Liberty.

Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide

How to Store Vegetables

Potatoes may be safely stored in bits on a well drained spot. Spread a layer of straw for the floor. Pile the potatoes in a long, rather than a round pile. Cover the pile with straw or hay a foot deep.

Build Your Own Earth Oven

An Introduction To Cob

Mixed with sand, water, and straw, a clayey-subsoil will dry into a very hard and durable material; indeed, it was the first, natural “concrete”. In the Americas, we call it “adobe”, which is originally from the Arabic “al-toba”, meaning “the brick.” Invading Moors brought the word to Spain from North Africa, where an ancient mud building tradition continues today.

Making Buttermilk

The Small-Scale Dairy

What kind of milk animal would best suit your needs? For barnyard matchmaking to be a success, you need to address several concerns.

Book Review Butchering

Two New Butchering Volumes

Danforth’s BUTCHERING is an unqualified MASTERPIECE! One which actually gives me hope for the furtherance of human kind and the ripening of good farming everywhere because, in no small part, of this young author’s sensitive comprehension of the modern disconnect with food, feeding ourselves, and farming.

Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing

Setting Up A Walking Plow

Here is a peek into the pages of Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing, written by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller.

Old Man Farming

Old Man Farming

Long after his physical capacities have dwindled to pain and stiffening, what drives the solitary old man to continue bringing in the handful of Guernsey cows to milk?

Why Farm

Farming For Art’s Sake: Farming As An Artform

Farming as a vocation is more of a way of living than of making a living. Farming at its best is an Art, at its worst it is an industry. Farming can be an Art because it allows at every juncture for the farmer to create form from his or her vision.

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.

McCormick Deering/International No 7 vs no 9

McCormick Deering/International: No. 7 versus No. 9

McCormick Deering/International’s first enclosed gear model was the No. 7, an extremely successful and highly popular mower of excellent design.

Posts

Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

You are probably thinking why would I want to dry up a doe? If the plan is to rebreed the doe, then she will need time to rebuild her stamina. Milk production takes energy. Kid production takes energy, too. If the plan is to have a fresh goat in March, then toward the end of October start to dry her up. The first thing to do is cut back on her grain. Grain fuels milk production.

Woodstove Cookery at Home on the Range

An Illustrated Guide To The Wood Fired Cookstove

Illustrated guide to the wood stove and it’s accoutrements.

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

Book Excerpt: The enclosed gear, late model John Deere, Case, Oliver, David Bradley, and McCormick Deering International mowers I (we) are so fond of had a zenith of popular manufacture and use that lasted just short of 25 years. Millions of farmers with millions of mowers, built to have a serviceable life of 100 plus years, all pushed into the fence rows. I say, it was far too short of a period.

Timing the Bounce

Timing the Bounce: Resilient Agriculture Meets Climate Change

by:
from issue:

In her new book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, Laura Lengnick assumes a dispassionate, businesslike tone and sets about exploring the farming strategies of twenty-seven award-winning farmers in six regions of the continental United States. Her approach gets well past denial and business-as-usual, to see what can be done, which strategies are being tried, and how well they are working.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 5

You might think that your new farm is fenced all wrong, or that a certain tree is in the wrong place, or that a wet area would be better drained, or that this gully would make a good pond site, or that a depression in the road should be filled, or that the old sheds should all come down right away. Well maybe you’re right on all counts. But maybe, you’re wrong.

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