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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

Carriage Hill Farm

Carriage Hill Farm

Carriage Hill Farm: Crown Jewel of Parks

by Jim Butcher of Springfield, OH, photos by Jim Scherer

To learn more about Carriage Hill Farm, please visit their website: www.metroparks.org/historical-farm – ed.

“Thank you for taking the time to visit our farm.” This is one of the responses that I give to the many visitors as they prepare to leave Carriage Hill Farm, an historical farm which is part of a much larger system of 24 parks within the Five Rivers Metroparks system.

The farm has been part of my life for over 30 years, first as a scout leader, then as a volunteer, and now as an employee of a great facility that touches the lives of several thousand people each year. The main emphasis of our farm is education and interpretation of an 1880’s family farm with all the equipment and animals from the 1880’s time period. Our staff teaches anyone who will take the time to find out how the ways of the past have created the mainstays of today.

Carriage Hill Farm

Picking ear corn.

My Grandfather started molding my mind at the ripe old age of five. That was the first year that I was allowed to spend an entire summer “working” beside him. Accepting his love for the earth and growing crops and raising animals, he is still ingrained in my soul and I’m passing on what I have learned from my “Grandpa” to anyone who will accept my vision. Several years ago I found out the meaning of my Grandfather’s name, George, from Greek, “Geo or earth”, or earth worker. The word was later changed to farmer… how fitting!

My “work” place is a fantastic site to visit and learn about farming, especially farming with horses. We have about 100 acres within the historic site, using horse power to do the majority of the work in the yearly cycle of the crops, as well as tilling and harvesting old varieties of modern day crops that cover 15 acres.

Carriage Hill Farm

Jim Butcher with a prize heritage variety corn ear.

Our crops include five different small grains: Mediterranean Red winter wheat, six row barley, oats, rye and spelt (also called Russian wheat) and are as close to the varieties of the 1880s that are still available. Two varieties of open pollinated corn, Reid’s yellow dent and Bloody Butcher, were developed or improved during our time period. Broomcorn, brown seed flax for linseed oil, Honey Drip sorghum for molasses, Connecticut pumpkins, Connecticut Seed leaf tobacco and vegetables from the truck garden and kitchen garden are also raised as yearly crops at Carriage Hill.

Carriage Hill Farm

Raking hay.

All of these items are incorporated into programs for the education of the public. Of course there are favorite programs that the public like to see, such as, anything using the horses. Most often, the only thing that the public asks about is plowing. Regardless of the time of year, people always inquire, “Were you plowing?” This gives me an opportunity to explain what we were doing and why. Also, tending the fields, cultivating crops and gardens, harvesting hay and using the grapple hooks and trolley to put the load into the hay mow, are more activities you can watch at the farm. Also you can see the farmer using the grain binder to make bundles of grain for shocks, set in the field to dry, and hauled in for the two threshing events we have, using a small six horsepower steam engine. Run by our state licensed volunteers, they also have the only agricultural steam instruction class approved by the State of Ohio to receive a license to operate an Ag steam engine.

Carriage Hill Farm

Loading hay with the loader.

We have the Arnold family diaries available from over forty years of the family’s life on this farm. With these diaries, we are able to document the events that shaped their decisions in producing crops and other items for sale, such as, eggs, butter, and custom work. They were accomplished at blacksmithing and with the steam engine, one of the first in the county; they improved the efficiency of harvest and other aspects of farm life. When the time came for butchering, they used the steam engine for heating the scalding water in a watering trough. Using a hose, it was a lot easier to do than to build fires and boil water in kettles. We demonstrate this process each year as we do a traditional butchering program.

We have developed workshops to increase our volunteers, such as completing two draft horse training classes in 2004 attended by 23 people with varying degrees of knowledge about horses. We used one Saturday to do class work, books, and pictures and then another day with hands on, harnessing, hitching and beginning driving, ground driving for the inexperienced and wagon driving for the other more advanced members of the group. We have also worked with Midwest Open-Air Museums Coordinating Council to put together draft horse and multi horse hitch workshops.

Carriage Hill Farm

Bringing in the hay.

Volunteers and staff hosted over 30 weekend programs, plus the farmstead is staffed each weekend so the skills in the blacksmith shop, woodshop, farmhouse and fields are explained to the visitors. Cooking is always a good draw for everyone. The wonderful smells coming from the kitchen is a sure attraction. The cooks pay attention to the 120 year old recipes, using as much material as possible that has been produced on the farm.

As time avails itself, repairs must be done to all of the horse drawn equipment. A lot of the machinery that we use must be rebuilt or repaired because it was worn out when it was set aside. Research must be done to make sure the equipment is right for the time period, and if possible, a color scheme to complete the paint job, which is usually with very bright colors.

Carriage Hill Farm

Magnificent Carriage Hill Percheron team.

Our staff compiled a program called “Country Fair.” It is designed to mirror the 1880 county fair that communities held to find out who had grown, or made, the “BEST.” It was a time of showing off, without bragging, about what you had accomplished. As this idea evolved, I wanted to have a plowing contest at Carriage Hill, to find the best team and plow master in our area.

After reading an article in Small Farmer’s Journal about an Ohio State plowing contest, I called Dean Hopkins and Gary Hopkins. I expressed my interest in having a contest at our park. We arranged to have them visit the park and with their help and guidance we had a trial run. We called it “Draft Horse Fun Days.” Much to my surprise, over 20 teams showed up from all over the state. I guess some other people wanted to see horses work also.

Carriage Hill Farm

Apples into the cider press.

That was Labor Day weekend 2004. This year the program was expanded to become the U.S. Plowing Contest with 88 horses from 11 states in attendance to have a good time and make new friends. There were winners in the field, but the real winners were the many people who made this, and other programs, possible to be witnessed by a generation or generations who have not had the pleasure of watching the interaction of the drivers and horse or mule teams.

Many years ago a friend of mine told me, “We are where we are, because of the efforts of the people who came before us.” I hope that some of my efforts in being responsible for the education of an unknowing generation will somehow touch another individual to continue where I will leave off. Everyday I expect to learn something and to pass that information on at sometime.

Carriage Hill Farm

One of the Percheron teams heads for the barn.

I enjoy interacting with people, especially the older group of folks who start out their conversation with “I remember talking to, doing this or seeing that at my fathers, grandfathers or other family farms.” This will become another learning experience for me, and maybe they will say something that will become another piece of the ever evolving history about early farm life or the equipment they used or maybe answer one of my many questions about why they did what they did.

As each day closes, I think about the many ways I have been blessed. It always goes back to some small insignificant event of the day, a song from a bird, seeing an insect completing a life cycle or the smile on the face of a child who has just had an enriching encounter with an 1800 pound Percheron. I’m usually pretty tired at the end of each day, yet looking forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.

Carriage Hill Farm

Headed for the thresher.

Spring time is the second busiest time of the year. The work windows are small and the work requirements are many for getting in the crops. Trying to figure out the timing for all of the programs, like making sure the corn is ready, and the sorghum has time to convert starch to sugar to be sweet enough to make good molasses. Spring lambs are being born, and if we’re lucky, a new calf or foal will help fill the time, and there seems to always be a new litter of pigs in the barn.

In the fall, Carriage Hill is generally the most crowded with activities with the days getting shorter and cooler weather coming.

Carriage Hill Farm

Small steam tractor running the threshing machine.

The ground does not dry quick enough to get all the planting and ground work done in time, but it is a most satisfying feeling to “lay by” the fields until springtime when all that needs to be done is complete and a shift in priorities is here.

Winter is not far behind, and with it, comes a whole new set of challenges and opportunities. Maybe there will be an ice harvest and the ice house can be filled again this January, so we can have that ice cream next June, if the cow has a calf and the milk flow is enough to fill everyone’s needs, including the barn cats.

Jim Butcher
Historical Farm Specialist
November 1, 2005

Carriage Hill Farm

Spotlight On: Livestock

Goat Lessons

Goat Lessons

by:
from issue:

Goats are one of the most incredible homestead animals. They are usually affectionate and sweet, with such funny and smart personalities. Goats give so much goodness for the amount of hay and grain they eat. One cow weighs 1,000 lbs. or more and gives 4-8 gallons of milk a day. One goat weighs around 130 lbs. and gives around a gallon — can you see the difference in feed conversion?

Collar Hames and Harness Fitting

Collars, Hames and Harness Fitting

Farmers who are good horsemen know everything that is presented here: yet even they will welcome this leaflet because it will refresh their memories and make easier their task when they have to show hired men or boys how to adjust equipment properly. Good horsemen know from long experience that sore necks or sore shoulders on work stock are due to ignorance or carelessness of men in charge, and are inexcusable.

Logging with Oxen in New Hampshire

Logging with Oxen in New Hampshire

by:
from issue:

I hear time and time again at the outset of each workshop, “I don’t know anything about working oxen.” And I say, “There is no more fun than being a beginner.” Myself and the staff get great pleasure in sharing our knowledge of working steers and oxen. For as long as there are those interested in working cattle, the men I mentioned early in this article will not be forgotten. I believe there will always be cattle worked on small farms and in the woods.

Ask A Teamster Perfect Hitching Tension

Ask A Teamster: Perfect Hitching Tension

In my experience, determining how tight, or loose, to hook the traces when hitching a team can be a bit challenging for beginners. This is because a number of interdependent dynamics and variables between the pulling system and the holdback system must be considered, and because it’s ultimately a judgment call rather than a simple measurement or clear cut rule.

Calves that Don't Breathe at Birth

Calves that Don’t Breathe at Birth

by:
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 3

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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.

Working Steers and Oxen on the Small Farm

Working Steers and Oxen on the Small Farm

by:
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For centuries, the skills of training steers for work and the craft of building yokes and related equipment was passed down from generation to generation. It was common for a young boy or girl to be responsible for the care and training of a team from calves to the age of working capability. Many farms trained a team each year, either for sale or for future replacement in their own draft program.

New York Horsefarmer Ed Button and his Belgians

New York Horsefarmer: Ed Button and his Belgians

In New York State one does not explore the world of draft horses long before the name of Ed Button is invariably and most respectfully mentioned. Ed’s name can be heard in the conversations of nearly everyone concerned with heavy horses from the most experienced teamsters to the most novice horse hobbyists. His career with Belgians includes a vast catalog of activities: showing, pulling, training, farming, breeding, and driving, which Ed says, “I’ve been doing since I was old enough to hold the lines.”

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.

Littlefield Notes Making Your Horses Work For You

LittleField Notes: Making Your Horses Work For You Part 1

by:
from issue:

The practical everyday working of horses and mules in harness has always been at the heart of what the Small Farmer’s Journal is about. And like the Journal, a good horse powered farm keeps the horses at the center: the working nucleus of the farm. All the tractive effort for the pulling of machines, hauling in of crops, hauling out of manures, harvesting and planting is done as much as is practicable with the horses.

Black Pigs and Speckled Beans

Black Pigs & Speckled Beans

by:
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As country pigs go the Large Blacks are superb. They are true grazing pigs, thriving on grass and respectful of fences. Protected from sunburn by their dark skin and hair they are tolerant of heat and cold and do well even in rugged conditions. Having retained valuable instincts, the sows are naturally careful, dedicated, and able mothers. The boars I’ve seen are friendly and docile.

A Gathering of Comtois in France

A Gathering of Comtois in France

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from issue:

I was soon planning for a stop in the town of Pontelier, the main hub in one corner of the country I had never been to and was bent on exploring: the Franche-Compte. As luck would have it, this region has its very own breed of draft horse, the Comtois. It was to an “exhibition” of this horse that I was heading, although thanks to my lousy French, I was not sure exactly what kind of “exhibition” I was heading to.

The Anatomy of Thrift: Harvest Day

On the Anatomy of Thrift Part 2: Harvest Day

On the Anatomy of Thrift is an instructional series Farmrun created with Farmstead Meatsmith. Their principal intention is instruction in the matters of traditional pork processing. In a broader and more honest context, OAT is a deeply philosophical manifesto on the subject of eating animals. Harvest Day is the second in the series, which explores the ‘cheer’ that is prepared on the day of slaughter, and dives deep into the philosophy and psychology of our relationship to animals.

Horseshoeing Part 1C

Horseshoeing Part 1C

The horn capsule or hoof is nothing more than a very thick epidermis that protects the horse’s foot, just as a well fitting shoe protects the human foot. The hoof of a sound foot is so firmly united with the underlying pododerm that only an extraordinary force can separate them. The hoof is divided into three principal parts, which are solidly united in the healthy foot – namely, the wall, the sole, and the frog.

Cultivating Questions The Cost of Working Horses

Cultivating Questions: The Cost of Working Horses

Thanks to the many resources available in the new millennium, it is relatively easy for new and transitioning farmers to learn the business of small-scale organic vegetable production. Economic models of horse-powered market gardens, however, are still few and far between. To fill that information hole, I asked three experienced farmers to join me in tracking work horse hours, expenses and labor over a two-year period and to share the results in the Small Farmer’s Journal.

Chicken Guano: Top-Notch Fertilizer

Whoever thought I’d be singing the praises of chicken poop? I am, and I’m not the only one. Chickens are walking nitrogen-rich manure bins.

Developing Draft Colts

Developing Draft Colts

During October, 1910, The Pennsylvania State College and Experiment Station purchased a group of ten grade Belgian and Percheron colts and one pure bred Percheron for use in live stock judging classes. An accurate record of the initial cost, feeds consumed and changes in form has been kept in order that some definite information as to the cost of developing draft colts from weaning to maturity might be available for farmers, investigators and students.

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

by:
from issue:

Our farm, here in the center of New York State, consists of 101 acres, about 90 in grass, the rest some woods and swamp. It is inhabited by forty-six jersey cows, twelve breeding ace heifers, one bull, and because it is calving season — an increasing number of calves. Also, four Belgian mares and a couple of buggy horses. Last, and possibly least — the farmer, farmer’s wife, and five grown children.

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