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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 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: Equipment & Facilities

John Deere Model HH Spreader

John Deere Model HH Spreader

from issue:

Check the adjustments on your spreader and make sure they are in proper operating condition. Hitch your team to the empty spreader to limber it up and see that it is working properly before loading. If you will turn the beaters over by hand before starting to the field, the spreader will start easier and will prevent throwing out a large bunch of manure when starting.

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.

A Step Back in Time with the Barron Tree Planter

A Step Back in Time with the Barron Tree Planter

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from issue:

The 18th century saw a tremendous interest in landscaping private parkland on a grand scale with the movement of entire hills and mature trees, all by man and horse power, to fulfill the designs of celebrated gardeners such as Capability Brown. In the mid 1800s the movement of mature trees was revolutionised by the introduction of the Barron tree transplanter. The first planter was designed and built by Barron for the transplantation of maturing trees at Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire.

The Milk and Human Kindness A Look At Butter Churns

The Milk and Human Kindness: A Look at Butter Churns

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Finding an old butter churn at a flea market, one that is still usable can be a lot of fun, and because there are so many types, it’s good to know a few tips to help you find one that works well for you. For one thing, the size of your butter churn must match your cream supply so that your valuable cream gets transformed into golden butter while it’s fresh and sweet, and that your valuable time is not eaten up by churning batch after batch because your churn is too small.

Fjordworks Plowing the Market Garden Part 2

Fjordworks: Plowing the Market Garden Part 2

Within the context of the market garden, the principal aim for utilizing the moldboard is to initiate the process of creating a friable zone for the root systems of direct-seeded or transplanted cash crops to establish themselves in, where they will have sufficient access to all the plant nutrients, air, and moisture they require to bear successful fruits. To this end, it is critical for good plant growth to render the soil into a fine-textured crumbly condition and to ensure there is no compaction within the root zone.

McCormick-Deering Potato Digger

McCormick-Deering Potato Digger

from issue:

McCormick Deering (eventually International Harvestor) made what many believe to be one of the outstanding potato digger models. This post features the text and illustrations from the original manufacturer’s setup and operation literature, handed to the new owners upon purchase. This implement, pulled by two horses or a small suitable tractor, dug up the taters and conveyed them up an inclined, rattling chain which shook off most of the dirt and laid the crop on top of the ground for collection

Cockshutt Plow Found in Alberta

Cockshutt Plow Found in Alberta!

Dale Befus introduced me to a plow I had not set eyes on before, most unusual affair though Dale assures me not uncommon in Alberta, this implement is a beam-hung riding plow (wheels hang from the beam) as versus the frame-hung units (where the beam hangs under the wheel-supported frame).

Step Ahead Horse Progress Days 2016

Step Ahead: 23rd Annual Horse Progress Days 2016

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I had only been to Horse Progress Days once before, at Mount Hope, Ohio in 2008. It had been an eye-opener, showing how strong and in touch with sustainable farming values the Amish are, and how innovative and sensible their efforts could be. So at the 23rd annual event in Howe, Indiana, I was there partly looking for signs of continuity, and partly for signs of change. Right off I spotted an Amish man with a Blue Tooth in his ear, talking as he walked along.

Snow Trail Groomer

Snow Trail Groomer

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from issue:

Want to groom sled trails, freeze skid trails, or set cross-country ski trails? Here is a relatively inexpensive device that has numerous advantages over the conventional chain link fence, bedspring, log, tractor tire, etc. It is easy to construct, manhandle, and store. One of the major advantages over some other methods is that it allows the snow to stay on the trail rather than pushing it to the side. This action allows it to cover rough surfaces such as roots, rocks, and ruts.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 3

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from issue:

In parallel with making hay on the ground, nearly every year I have also made some hay on tripods. The attraction of this method is that it only needs one day of good weather to dry the grass sufficiently before it is put on the tripods, and then the hay takes very little harm no matter what the weather, usually coming out green, dry and smelling of hay two weeks later when it can be baled or stacked.

Shoeing Stocks

An article from the out-of-print Winter 1982 Issue of SFJ.

Barn Door Plans

Barn Door Plans

Good barn doors, ones that will last a lifetime of opening, sliding and swinging in the wind, require careful design and construction. In 1946 the Starline Co., a barn building firm from the midwestern US, compiled a book of barn plans. These two diagrams were in that book and presented excellent information.

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.

The Brabants Farm

The Brabants’ Farm

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The Brabants’ Farm is a multi purpose farming operation whose main goal is to promote “horsefarming.” Our philosophy is to support the transformation of regional conventional agriculture and forestry into a sustainable, socially responsible, and less petroleum dependent based agriculture, by utilizing animal drawn technology (“horsefarming”), and by meeting key challenges in 21st century small scale agriculture and forestry in Colombia and throughout South America.

Walsh No Buckle Harness

from issue:

When first you become familiar with North American working harness you might come to the erroneous conclusion that, except for minor style variations, all harnesses are much the same. While quality and material issues are accounting for substantive differences in the modern harness, there were also interesting and important variations back in the early twentieth century which many of us today either have forgotten or never knew about. Perhaps the most significant example is the Walsh No Buckle Harness.

Pferdestarke

German Version of Horse Progress Days: Pferdestark

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from issue:

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. For sheer variety of different breeds of draught horses, regional and national harness styles, or for that matter, languages or hats, it would be hard to beat Pferdestark.

Littlefield Notes: A Slower Pace

LittleField Notes: A Slower Pace

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I will probably never get a chance to sit at the throttle of a steam engine heading up some winding mountain grade and feel the romance of the rails as the lonesome sound of a steam whistle echoes off canyon walls. Nor will I sit and watch out over the bowsprit of a schooner rounding Cape Horn as the mighty wind and waves test men’s mettle and fill their spirits with the allure of the sea. It is within my reach however to draw a living from the earth using that third glorious form of transport – the horse.

Fjordworks Cultural Evolution Part 2

Fjordworks: Cultural Evolution Part 2

For more than ten years we cultivated our market garden with the walk-behind cultivator. This past season we made the transition to the riding cultivator. I really enjoyed using this amazing implement. Our current team of Fjords are now mature animals (14 & 18 years old) and have been working together for 11 years, so they were certainly ready to work quietly and walk slowly enough to be effective with this precision tool.

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