Small Farmer's Journal

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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

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

Living With Horses

Living With Horses

by:
from issue:

The French breed of Ardennes is closer to what the breed has been in the past. The Ardennes has always been a stockier type of horse, rude as its environment. Today the breed has dramatically changed into a real heavy horse. If the Ardennes had an average weight between 550 and 700kg in the first part of the last century, the balance shows today 1000kg and more. Thus the difference between the Ardennes and their “big” sisters, the Brabants in Belgium, or the Trait du Nord in France, has gone.

Mini Horse Haying

Mini Horse Haying

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The first mini I bought was a three year old gelding named Casper. He taught me a lot about what a 38 inch mini could do just by driving me around the neighborhood. He didn’t cover the miles fast, but he did get me there! It wasn’t long before several more 38 inch tall minis found their way home. I presently have four minis that are relatively quiet, responsive to the bit, and can work without a lot of drama.

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

The Best Chicken Pie Ever

by:
from issue:

She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

Interpreting Your Horse's Body Language

Interpreting Your Horse’s Body Language

by:
from issue:

The person who works closely with horses usually develops an intuitive feel for their well-being, and is able to sense when one of them is sick, by picking up the subtle clues from the horse’s body language. A good rider can tell when his mount is having an off day, just by small differences in how the horse travels or carries himself, or responds to things happening around him. And when at rest, in stall or pasture, the horse can also give you clues as to his mental and physical state.

Work Horse Handbook

Grooming Work Horses

The serviceability of the work horse may be increased or decreased according to the care which is bestowed upon him. If he is groomed in a perfunctory fashion his efficiency as an animal motor is lessened. On the other hand, if he is well groomed he is snappier and fresher in appearance and is constantly up on the bit.

Calves that Don't Breathe at Birth

Calves that Don’t Breathe at Birth

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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.

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

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from issue:

There are hundreds of plants that can be toxic to livestock. Some grow in specific regions while others are more widespread. Some are always a serious danger and others only under certain conditions. Poisoning of livestock depends on several factors, including palatability of the plant, stage of development, conditions in which they grew, moisture content of the plant and the part eaten.

The Milk and Human Kindness Caring For The Pregnant Cow

The Milk and Human Kindness: Caring for the Pregnant Cow

by:
from issue:

Good cheese comes from happy milk and happy milk comes from contented cows. So for goodness sake, for the sake of goodness in our farming ways we need to keep contentment, happiness and harmony as primary principles of animal husbandry. The practical manifestations of our love and appreciation are what make a small farm. Above and beyond the significant requirements of housing, feed and water is the care of your cow’s emotional life, provide for her own fulfillment. Let her raise her calf!

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

by:
from issue:

Yogurt making is the perfect introduction into the world of cultured dairy products and cheese-making. You are handling milk properly, becoming proficient at sanitizing pots and utensils, and learning the principles of culturing milk. Doing these things regularly, perfecting your methods, sets you up for cheese-making very well. Cheese-making involves the addition of a few more steps beyond the culturing.

A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses

A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses

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from issue:

We have tried a workhorse, and for our needs he has proven quite satisfactory as well as satisfying to use. Thus we feel it is possible for someone with little or no experience to learn to care for and use a horse or a team for farm and woods work, although, obviously, this is not a process to be undertaken lightly. One of the basic aims of the farm operation for us is self-sufficiency, and we thought that the horse would be more efficient than a tractor in achieving this aim.

Ask A Teamster Round Pen Training

Ask A Teamster: Round Pen Training

When we ask a horse to follow us in the round pen we can help him succeed by varying things a bit – changing direction and speed frequently, stopping periodically to reward him with a rub (“a rub” or two, not 100), picking up a foot, playing with his tail/ears/mouth, etc. In other words, working at desensitizing or sensitizing him by simulating things he will experience in the future (trimming and shoeing, crupper, bridle over the ears, bit, etc.).

Expanding the Use of the Heavy Draught Horse in Europe

Expanding the Use of the Heavy Draught Horse in Europe

“La Route du Poisson”, or “The Fish Run,” is a 24 hour long relay which starts from Boulogne on the coast at 9 am on Saturday and runs through the night to the outskirts of Paris with relays of heavy horse pairs until 9 am Sunday with associated events on the way. The relay “baton” is an approved cross country competition vehicle carrying a set amount of fresh fish.

Rabbits

Rabbits

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from issue:

The domestic rabbit has the potential to become one of the world’s major sources of meat protein. As human populations continue to put pressure on the resources of the food providers, the farmers, the rabbit is likely to begin to interest, not only the farmer, but the family interested in providing food for it’s table. They convert forage more efficiently than do ruminants, such as cattle and sheep. In fact, rabbits can produce five times the amount of meat from a given amount of alfalfa as do beef cattle.

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.

On-Farm Meat Processing

The demand for fresh, local meat products – with no taint of industrial process – is absolutely staggering.

Ask A Teamster Driving

Ask A Teamster: Driving

I have been questioned (even criticized) about my slow, gentle, repetitious approach “taking too much time” and all the little steps being unnecessary when one can simply “hitch ‘em tied back to a well-broke horse they can’t drag around, and just let ‘em figure it out on their own.” I try to give horses the same consideration I would like if someone was teaching me how to do something new and strange.

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.

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