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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: Book Reviews

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.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 2

How do you learn the true status of that farm with the “for sale” sign? Here are some important pieces of information for you to learn about a given selling farm. The answers will most probably tell you how serious the seller is.

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.

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.

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.

Art of Working Horses Another Review

Art of Working Horses – Another Review

by:
from issue:

One could loosely say this is a “how-to” book but it is more of an “existential” how-to: how to get yourself into a way of thinking about the world of working horses. Maybe we need to explain what a working horse is. A working horse is one, in harness, given to a specific task. So, in that context, the book illustrates the many ways Miller has worked with his equine partners over the years – helping them understand what he wants them to do, as both work together to create relationships that help achieve desired goals.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

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.

Honoring Our Teachers

Honoring Our Teachers

by:
from issue:

I believe that there exist many great practicing teachers, some of who deliberately set out to become one and others who may have never graduated from college but are none-the-less excellent and capable teachers. I would hazard a guess that many readers of Small Farmer’s Journal know more than one teacher who falls within this latter category. My grandfather, and artist and author Eric Sloane, were two such teachers.

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.

An Introduction To Grasslands Farming

From Dusty Shelves: A World War II era article on grassland farming.

Barbed Wire History and Varieties

Book Excerpt: The invention of barb wire was the most important event in the solution of the fence problem. The question of providing fencing material had become serious, even in the timbered portions of the country, while the great prairie region was almost wholly without resource, save the slow and expensive process of hedging. At this juncture came barb wire, which was at once seen to make a cheap, effective, and durable fence, rapidly built and easily moved.

Retrofitting a Fireplace with a Woodstove

How to Retrofit a Fireplace with a Woodstove

Because the venting requirements for a wood stove are different than for a fireplace you need to retrofit a stainless steel chimney liner. A liner provides the draft necessary to ensure that the stove will operate safely and efficiently.

Old Man Farming

Spinning Ladders

You die off by passing away. You live on by passing on. I want to pass the culture of my life on slowly, over the ripening time of my best years.

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.

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.

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.

One Seed To Another: The New Small Farming

One Seed to Another

One Seed to Another is staggering and bracing in its truths and relevance. This is straight talk from a man whose every breath is poetry and whose heartbeat is directly plugged into farming as right livelihood.

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