Equipment & Facilities
One of the hardest problems in successful poultry keeping is to maintain the vigor and health of the flock. Housing has particular bearing on this problem. If the laying-house is poorly lighted, has insufficient ventilation, or is overcrowded, the health of the fowls will be affected. The purpose of housing is to increase productiveness. In order to accomplish this the fowls must be comfortable.
There were two irrigated fields, adjacent to one another, and totally 25 to 30 acres. With only a couple of minor mechanical adjustments we mowed pretty much uninterrupted (except for water breaks and photo ops) and finished the job in under 3 hours. (For those of you who are interested in the applied math: These outfits can cover 9 to 10 acres each in one day. Using 9 as an average that means these 5 mowers can drop 135 acres of hay in three days.) Mike told me that when the hay was ready Nick would spend a six hour day with forecart and rake just ahead of the baler.
It is my opinion that mowing hay, on the horse drawn farm, is one of the more pleasant jobs to be done there! You wait for a period of fair weather and when it comes there is often bright blue sky, high moving clouds and a small breeze stirring the tall grasses as you enter the field! The mowing, when using ground driven equipment, is a relatively quiet affair. There is the subdued noise of harness and chain, the deep breathing of the animals at work, the snick snick of the cutter bar in the hay, the murmur of gears and cogs meshing in the gearbox and the flow of the cut hay across the cutter bar as the mower advances. For me there is the pleasure of watching the play of muscles across a broad rump and the rise and fall of hocks and hooves on a strong pulling horse! I like the feel of the leather in my hands and the ebb and flow of contact with the horse’s mouth as we move across the field.
When David and Gus visited Mr. Hemmett they had an unexpected find. Not only was there the small tip-cart but other full sized farm wagons. The first that David looked at was a double shafted Lincolnshire wagon designed for the flat lands of that county and too big and heavy for his Suffolk mare of 16.2 hands. But tucked at the back under a tarpaulin was the ideal vehicle – a Norfolk wagon that could take either a single or double shaft and was suitable for the smaller draught horse.
We had experimented with unrolling the bales the year before and had decided to make a device that would let us move them with the horses and then unroll them. I used square tubing to make a simple frame with two arms attached to a cross piece which connected to a tongue. Small diagonal braces made the arrangement rigid and the arms had a right angle piece of square tubing on their ends which allowed a pin to be driven into the middle of the round bale from each side.
One of the challenges I constantly face using draft ponies is finding appropriately sized equipment. Mya is a Shetland-Welsh cross, standing at 11.2 hands. Most manure spreaders are big and heavy and require a team of horses. I needed something small and light and preferably wheeled to minimize impact to the land. My husband and I looked around our budding small farm for something light, wheeled, cheap, and available, and we quickly noticed our Vermont-style garden cart.
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.
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 pen drawings represent my honey house as it stands today. I am not sending it to you because I think it is an ideal honey house by any means, but considering the surroundings it suits me very well. The surface of the ground around the house and bee-yard is perfectly flat and level, so there is no chance to build on two levels, or I would have built it that way. As it is I have tried to have things as handy as possible with everything on one level.
Riveting is a means of fastening two metal parts together more permanently than by bolts. This method of assembling has been used on practically all types of equipment and during the life of this equipment it becomes necessary to replace rivets due to corrosion affecting the strength of the riveted joint, vibration or other condition which affects the strength of the unit.
As we all know nowadays, costs are high on about everything. But ever so often someone finds a way to “get-around” some of these expenses. Such was the case for Bill Reeks when high winds broke, uprooted and damaged many trees on his forty-eight acres. Knowing many board feet of nice lumber lay within these logs if only there was an “affordable way” to make these many logs into good, accurate lumber, he decided to build himself a band sawmill out of the “left-overs” from many years on construction jobs.
The most essential knowledge to the successful operation of a Harvester is to recognize the proper time to start harvesting. Most grain growers become anxious to start harvesting when the grain begins to show a golden hue. Grain should never be threshed until thoroughly ripe and the straw gets brittle.
A well thought out, functional barn should be the center piece of any farming endeavor, horse powered or fossil fueled, that involves livestock. After building and using two previous barns during our lifetimes, I think the one we now have has achieved a level of convenience, efficiency, and economy that is worth passing on.
Ann brought her “All-in-One” single horse implement to our farm. The horse drawn implement is a basic frame with two front wheels, handles and receivers for the different implements such as hilling disks, cultivators, and bed marker. Ann designed handlebars that can be raised, lowered and offset with simple sturdy pins and levers. The wheels can be adjusted in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Both horse and driver can be offset to avoid walking on the cultivated beds. Ann put thought into the weight, balance and ease of use for this implement.
I’m trying to fit a collar to a new horse I just got and I can’t seem to get it right. It seems close to fitting but the problem is it’s too tight on the sides a few inches below his mane, but it fits okay on the sides down lower. I’m also not sure how it should fit at the bottom of his neck above his chest. I see some horses that have a lot of space there and others with the collar almost touching the bottom of the neck. My guess is it’s a little too long there.
I always chain or otherwise secure slip-on type neckyokes to the tongue so they don’t come off and cause an accident. Neckyokes unexpectedly coming off the tongue have caused countless problems, the likes of which have caused injuries, psychological damage, and even death to horses, and to people as well. Making sure the neckyoke is chained or otherwise secured to the tongue every time you hitch a team is a quick and easy way of eliminating a number of dangerous situations.
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.
With most common types of team harness the neckyoke is an essential component of both the steering and hold back systems. In addition to holding the tongue up, neckyokes permit the horses to pull/push the end of the tongue with them as they move right or left, thus steering the vehicle or implement. As part of the hold back system neckyokes function by transferring the – slowing, stopping, backing, and holding back the load – actions of the horses to the tongue, and thus to the vehicle or equipment.
My forecart pole is set up for draft horses. My husband thinks we should cut the pole off to permanently make it fit better to these smaller horses. What would be your opinion? Like your husband, my preference would be a shorter tongue for a small team like your Fjords. The dynamics and efficiency of draft are better if we have our horse(s) close to the load. A shorter tongue will also reduce the overall length of your outfit, thereby giving you better maneuverability and turning dynamics.
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.
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.
Here it was like a beehive with too many fuzzy cheeked teen-agers who couldn’t possibly be experienced enough to be of much help. But work was being accomplished; bents, end walls and partitions were being assembled like magic and raised into place with well-coordinated, effortless ease and precision. No tempers were flaring, no egomaniacs were trying to steal the show, and there was not the usual ten percent doing ninety percent of the work.
Hands-on human-scale farming will frequently put you in need of a way to repair implements and equipment, including gates, hinges, hangers and such. Success with your operation may well hinge on your willingness and ability to do most of these jobs yourself. Fifty+ years ago, when I got started farming, I was immediately intimidated by the cautions and precautions implicit with welding, either oxy or stick (arc). My first sense was that this process was not for the beginner or novice. I got over my trepidations. That was a long time ago. Since then innovations in welding technologies have come a very long way, adding to the hazards, and complexity, tenfold.
I used an ’84 Chevrolet S-10 rear end to build my forecart, turn it over to get right rotation, used master cylinder off buggy and 2” Reese hitch, extend hitch out to use P.T.O. The cart is especially useful for tedding hay. However, its uses are virtually unlimited. We use it for hauling firewood on a trailer, for pulling a disc and peg tooth harrow, for hauling baled hay on an 8’ x 16’ hay wagon, and just for a jaunt about the farm and community.
Mr. Scarberry had come from West Virginia to share, in the purest sense of the word, his implement ideas. His implements were not for sale, they were there for people to see, measure, ask about and enjoy. He wanted it to belong to everyone; he wanted it to be seen and known as his gift to us.
Since being introduced to the straddle row cultivator last year in hilling our potatoes, I have been excited to experiment with different tools mounted under the versatile machine. Like the famed Allis Chalmers G or Farmall Cub my peers of the internal combustion persuasion utilize on their vegetable farms, this tool can help maximize efficiency in many ways on the small farm.
This year, I set out to make a new implement. Drawing from my experiences on a tractor-powered farm in California and some advice from Teague and Kosma, mule-powered farmers in Twisp, WA, and Jason Salvo, a tractor-powered farmer in Duvall, WA, I decided to build a horsepowered root digger, known to some as a bed lifter. I hoped that not only would it provide us with another job to use the horses in which we had been previously using hand tools, but it would make these digging jobs faster and more efficient.
The more popular makes we know or have heard of, JD, McD, Case, Oliver etc., but it would be a mistake to assume that their’s were the only serviceable makes of planters from a hundred years ago. Fact is, most innovation and engineering daring came from the smaller companies which were swallowed whole or just disappeared. (Think of Studebaker, Tucker or Hudson?) LRM
Here are two, old-style, heavy-duty, bobsled building plans featuring the sort of sleds you might have found in New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. (In fact you might get lucky and find them still.) These are designed to haul cord wood on the sled frame.
Making a pair of tongs was a milestone for a lot of blacksmiths. In times gone past a Journeyman Smith meant just that, a smith that went upon a journey to learn more skills before taking a masters test. When the smith appeared at the door of a prospective employer, he/she would be required to demonstrate their skills. A yard stick for this was to make a pair of tongs.
Meanwhile, my senior year was approaching fast, and all of us students began to contemplate what our final project would be with a bit of urgency. Our capstone project tasks us with identifying a need for a product or solution, bringing that product through the design phase, then building that product and displaying at the Technical Exposition. So I had the harebrained idea to embark on recreating not only a scale model of Parker’s Pulverizer, but to also recreate the real thing in full-scale, complete with fresh new wheel castings.
The Anatomy of a Buggy • Auto Seat Buggy • Auto Seat Cutunder Buggy • Twin Reach Auto Seat Buggy • Concord Auto Seat Buggy • Light Concord Buggy • Auto Seat Cutunder Surrey • Auto Seat Surrey • Side Spring Surrey • Driving Wagon • Cutunder Driving Wagon • Concord Driving Wagon • Road Wagon • Half Platform Spring Wagon • Four-Spring Mountain Wagon • Three-Seated Spring Wagon • Spring Wagon • Skeleton Wagon, Shuler Springs • Long Body Road Wagon • Cutunder Delivery Wagon • Heavy Oil Wagon • Village Wagon • Runabout Slat Wagon • Heavy Oil Wagon • Farm Wagon
Fresh butter melting on hot homemade bread… Isn’t that the homesteader’s dream? A cheap two-gallon stock pot from the local chain store got me started in churn building. It was thin stainless steel and cost less than ten bucks. I carted it home wondering what I might find in my junk pile to run the thing. I found an old squirrel cage fan and pulled the little motor to test it. I figure that if it could turn a six-inch fan, it could turn a two-inch impeller.
One of the most striking aspects of this development is the strength and confidence that comes from this communal way of living. While it is impressive to build a barn in a day it seems even more impressive to imagine building four barns or six, and all the rest of the needs of a community. For these young Amish families the vision of a shared agricultural community is strong, and clear.
I recently built a shoeing stock and thought that there may be some others who could benefit from the design information or gain some ideas for construction of a stock of their own design. All the time I’ve owned workhorses, and even saddle horses, frequent hoofcare has been one of these non-pressing tasks which often seems like it can be put off one more day or until the weekend. Then before you know it there are several horses needing attention at the same time. The task of catching up becomes more pressing and in some prolonged cases even seemingly overwhelming.
The inside of the barn can be partitioned into stalls of whatever size we need, using portable panels secured to the upright posts that support the roof. We have a lot of flexibility in use for this barn, making several large aisles or a number of smaller stalls. We can take the panels out or move them to the side for cleaning the barn with a tractor, or for using the barn the rest of the year for machinery.
To begin the calibration of the grain drill, first, partially close each seed gate; then pour some grain into the seed box. Place a canvas under the drill to catch the grain. Be sure that the canvas is under all seed tubes. Lay a board under the drill to protect the canvas when the furrow openers are lowered to operating position.
The illustrations on these pages come from an old J.I. Case catalog loaned to us by Judson Schrick of Decorah, Iowa. We reprint them here for you because, as in the past, there have been those of us who have been able to make good use of this information when we go to repair or restore one of these plows or whatever. For many of us, there is no other place to go for this kind of information but right here in the good old SFJ. Some of you already have this stuff in your shop library. Some of you don’t like this stuff and will never need it. Hope both of you will tolerate the rest of us as we go on preserving some great relic technologies. Remember, tractors may come and tractors may go but good horses are born, every day
The prospect of clipping pastures and cutting hay with the mower was satisfying, but I wondered how I might take advantage of a sickle mower in my primary crop of grapes. The problem is, my grape rows are about 9 feet apart, and the haymower is well over 10 feet wide. I decided to reexamine the past, as many of us do in our unconventional agricultural pursuits. I set off with the task of reversing the bar and guards to lay across the front path of the machine’s wheels.
After you’ve built a small farm blacksmith shop, one of the first decisions that you’ll need to make is which type of fuel you’ll be using. Most people choose either gas (propane) or coal, however, wood fired forges are also an option. All three fuel types have pros and cons. The final decision will likely be based on the type of forging that you plan to do and the local availability of the fuel.
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).
The most populous single horse planting tools were made by Planet Junior. But they were by no means the only company producing these small farm gems. Most manufacturers included a few models and some, like Planet Junior, American and Cole specialized in the implement. What follows are fourteen different models from Cole’s, circa 1910, catalog. We published ten of these in volume 30 number three of Small Farmer’s Journal.
Back in the early eighties, when we were on an extended road trip up to Ontario, Canada and back through New England to Ohio Amish country, we had occasion to visit a small collar making shop where Kristi took these photos. We recently had to move our archives and I found these pictures in an envelope. I do not remember whose shop it was and have lost any notes that I took. But I vividly recall the action in the first photo as it mechanically stuffed chopped straw into the shaped leather tube which would become a work collar. The second apparatus was a size specific press for shaping the stuffed collar form. And the last tool pictured is a stretching table where the anchored, nearly complete collar was gently beat with a wide round hammer to even out any lumps in the stuffing.
Most of the grain losses from combine operation can be prevented if the grain is ripe enough when it is cut and if the machine is correctly adjusted. The machine should be adjusted for each field that is cut and adjusted several times each day for changing weather conditions. Good operation of the combine is difficult where there is a large proportion of weeds in the crop, but correct adjustment reduces the trouble. Grain loss may be at the following places: the grain platform (reel or cutter bar), the cylinder, the straw rack, and the cleaning shoe.
Various methods are used to drop the kernels of corn into the soil, but the specially designed corn planters are used most for this purpose. Such planters are: the hand, the one-row, the two-row drill, and the two- and four-row check-row.
We know all too well the frustration of putting your heart and soul into a crop only to have the wildlife consume it before you can get it harvested let alone to market. Our farm sits next to several thousand acres of state game lands and is the only produce operation in the area. As you can imagine, deer pressure can be intense. Neighbors have counted herds of 20 or more in our pastures.
We were inspired to try no-tilling vegetables into cover crops after attending the Groffs’ field day in 1996. No-tilling warm season vegetables has proved problematic at our site due to the mulch of cover crop residues keeping the soil too cool and attracting slugs. We thought that no-tilling garlic into this cover crop of oats and Canadian field peas might be the ticket as garlic seems to appreciate being mulched.
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.
When touring Tony and Fran McQuail’s horsepowered farm outside of Lucknow, Ontario, we noticed something strikingly different about their horsedrawn mower. Every other knife section was upside-down! Following the example of their Amish neighbors, Tony had converted the sicklebar mower to the SCH EasyCut system manufactured by S.I. Distributing. He explained that the alternating face-up/face-down sections balanced pressure on the knife, preventing it from bending or breaking. More importantly, the heavy duty enclosed guards maintain the critical scissor-like action for smooth, carefree mowing without the need for constant adjustment.
Always fill the seed boxes alike – if they fail to feed down uniformly – look for trouble. Don’t run the seed supply too low in the boxes – examine it occasionally and dump any accumulation of butts, or oddly shaped seeds. Examine the box bottoms, seed pawls and plates for obstructions – bits of cobb, husk or twine. Replace the retainer rings correctly and latch the boxes down securely.
While the low down delivery wagon is an improvement, the objectionable features are increased. But with all those objections the low down wagons increase every year. Their convenience outweighs all other objections. They are handy for country delivery and are fitted up inside to suit either grocers, bakers, butchers or milk delivery, or a combination of the four.
Whilst on a trip to Germany at the end of August I took the opportunity once again to visit Pferdestark, the biggest gathering of work horses in Europe, which takes place every other year in the north German town of Detmold. Pferdestark is a honey pot for people from across Europe interested in the practical application of live horse power, as well as those who just like to see the big horses, so by the time I arrived half an hour before the start, visitors from far and wide were already flooding onto the site around the old post windmill overlooking the open air museum and the town.
One of the most important requirements is disc blade concavity, that is, correct concavity. Further along we set forth the purposes of disc concavity. We feel it is important enough to devote the extra time and words in a discussion of the subject, because seldom is disc concavity talked about, and very few know that there is difference enough to cause good and bad work.
Growing up I lived in overalls – my favorite being the railroad striped ones, but I had them in various colors. I had started to have a hankering for a pair of overalls again. As you can imagine, finding overalls that are comfortable when you are a four to twelve year old string bean is much easier than finding them as an adult. Now it isn’t just comfort that I’m interested in but they have to be complementary in other ways too, of course. So with my expectations set really low, I let them know that I would be interested in trying out their Freshley Overalls.
It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.
Place wheels on axle. If wheels do not fill axle completely to the turned shoulder, fill up the space with axle rings. See that axle and end bearings are well greased; then place brackets on axle and secure with axle washers and cotters, using that notch in the washer which allows the least possible end-play of wheels on axle. Bend ends of cotters around washers so they will not catch on the inside of dust caps.
This is the story of a harrow on a budget. I saw plans on the Tillers International website for building an adjustable spike tooth harrow. I modified the plans somewhat to suit the materials I had available and built a functional farm tool for eighteen dollars. The manufactured equivalent would have cost at least $300.
At Small Farmer’s Journal we are frequently asked what the original colors were for various and sundry makes of horse drawn farm equipment. Some folks who restore these implements are purists and wish to correctly duplicate the coloration. While the colors for something like McCormick-Deering mowers were constantly changing and quite complex, we for years felt comfortable in the certainty that John Deere was always their own unchanging yellow and green. We were surprised then to discover from original sales brochures that they frequently used a third color, red-orange, on their tools. Here are two examples which we hope reproduce sufficiently well for you to get good information.
When I can pull myself away from the farm and I’ve got a few dollars to burn I’m an avid auction-goer. To me, a good farm auction is a fun social occasion and an educational experience to boot. And if I can get a few good deals while I’m there, so much the better. So what follows are a set of tips and tricks I have observed and used in my own auction-going experiences. May they be of good use to you as well.
Friend and Auctioneer Dennis Turmon told us about a couple of John Deere Grain Binders he has in an upcoming auction, and we couldn’t wait to take a look. On a blustery Central Oregon day (sorry about the wind noise), Lynn takes us on a guided tour of the PTO and Ground-Drive versions of this important implement.
Friend and Auctioneer Dennis Turmon has an upcoming auction featuring a Case Threshing machine, and we couldn’t wait when he invited us to take a look. On a blustery Central Oregon day (sorry about the wind noise), Lynn & Dennis take us on a guided tour of the Case 22×36 Thresher.
This is the season of the year when many of the farm machines and implements are put away until next spring. All of the machines and implements should be given a thorough cleaning and stored under cover where they will be protected from the rain and snow, which do much to shorten the life and increase the cost of farm machinery. An implement shed and farm shop that will pay big dividends during the life of the farm machinery is shown in the illustration. Here is space for open storage of wagons and other farm equipment, a garage for the car or tractor and a shop where the repairs that the machinery will need before being put in use next spring may be made.
A set of farrier’s tools is a must on almost any farm that employs horses and mules. If you do your own barefoot trims or set your own shoes, you probably keep your tools in a traditional farrier’s box set up for ready use. However, if you’re like me and you hire a farrier every six to ten weeks to work on your equine’s feet, you should still have a basic set of tools on hand to address the occasional emergency, such as a loose shoe or chipped foot. A farrier’s tool roll is a convenient way to store tools that aren’t used every day.
The foundation of the circular beater is a cold-rolled, steel shaft securely fastened at each end of the rear of the spreader box. This shaft does not revolve, but forms a sort of a curved axle on which the beater revolves. The great advantage of the circular beater is that it spreads more than twice its own width — away beyond the wheels on each side. The circular beater is imitated as closely as the patents allow but none of the imitations will give you the positive, uniform, wide, even spread of the Fearless.
The first wire we tried was a small gauge steel wire which was not terribly satisfactory with horses. Half the time they wouldn’t see it and would charge on through. And the other half of the time they would remember getting shocked by something they hadn’t seen there and would refuse to come through when we were standing there with gate wide open. We realized that visibility was an important consideration when working with horses.
Fencing the farm is to a large extent a problem in farm organization. The amount of fencing required on a livestock farm is determined largely by the farm layout–the location of the farmstead, the arrangement of the field system, and the location and extent of the permanent pasture areas. The character of the fencing required will be determined very largely by the kinds of livestock kept. Horses, cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry all have somewhat different fencing requirements.
For the teamster who first and foremost just plain loves driving horses, hitching the team to a fully restored and well-oiled cultivator is a wonderful way to spend time with horses. For those intrigued by the intricacies of machines and systems, the riding cultivator offers endless opportunities for tweaking and innovation. And for those interested in herbicide free, ecologically produced vegetable and field crops, the riding cultivator is a practical and precise tool for successful cultivation.
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.
These types of team implements for digging potatoes were the first big innovation in horse powered potato harvesting in the mid-19th century. Prior to the horse drawn digger the limitation on how many potatoes a farmer could plant was how many the farm crew could dig by hand. The basic design of these early diggers works so well that new models of this type of digger are once again being manufactured by contemporary horse drawn equipment suppliers.
In a horse-powered market garden in the 1- to 10-acre range the moldboard plow can still serve us very well as one valuable component within a whole tool kit of tillage methods. In the market garden the plow is used principally to turn in crop residue or cover crops with the intention of preparing the ground to sow new seeds. In these instances, the plow is often the most effective tool the horse-powered farmer has on hand for beginning the process of creating a fine seed bed.
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.
from issue: 38-3
In this series of articles we are taking a look at how contemporary horse-powered farmers are making use of the moldboard plow, with an emphasis on the use of the moldboard as primary tillage in the market garden. In this installment we will hear “Reports from the Field” from two small farmers who favor the walking plow and a report from one farmer who farms tens of acres of forage crops and is decidedly in favor of the sulky. But first, we’ll dig into the SFJ archives to get a little perspective on the evolution of the manufacture of the walking plow from the late 19th century to the present.
No matter how well your team is matched to the size plow, they are going to have to put in some hard work to pull it through the ground. Plowing represents one of the heaviest exertions of draft power your horses will face in the course of working the market garden. Before you hitch your horses to the plow you will want to get them in shape with lighter tasks. Your horses will tell you if the draft of the plow is too much for them. Your experience of plowing will be immeasurably more satisfactory if your horses can pull the plow comfortably, without wanting to go too fast. If the team is walking too fast they are probably feeling the pull is too hard, as most horses will tend to turn up the throttle (before they balk) when they are feeling over-taxed by the load.
When you first start out trying to plow on the walking plow, if at all possible, start out with someone you trust on the lines and you working the plow handles. That way one person can school the horses to get them to understand what is being asked while you can focus entirely on learning how to steer the plow. Once the two of you and the team have got all that working reasonably well it won’t be such a big step to handle the horses and the plow by yourself.
Every thresherman purchasing a new machine wants to do just a little better work than his neighbor. It is therefore important that he should operate his machine properly in every particular. He should make every adjustment necessary to do good work. The cylinder should be run at the proper speed and the concaves adjusted to meet the existing conditions and kind of grain, so that all the heads will be threshed clean of every kernel. The more perfect the threshing, at the cylinder, the nearer the approach to perfect separation.
To grow a crop of fruit is but the initial step towards the successful termination of the enterprise. If the fruit is to be sent to market, then crates, baskets, etc., are necessary for gathering and transporting, all of which should be provided in advance of the ripening of the crop. The number of baskets required per acre cannot be given, inasmuch as the product will not be the same in any two seasons, but it is always best to provide enough, for if the supply should fall short in the busy part of the season, it might cause considerable loss.
After several years of thinking about and planning a concept design for a tool carrier that could handle our cultivation needs, we began to see the possibility of a horse drawn cultivating and implement tool carrier design based on a combination of several implements we either had on the farm or could use as inspiration for critical design functions for the tool to be successful.
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.
We had been looking for a few years before we found our land. We had been hoping to find an old homestead, with an old house and barn, but all the ones we looked at were either in a bad location, or would’ve needed so much repairs that it was too much for us. So finally, our realtor-friend said to us, “Did you ever think of just buying land and building new?” We had thought we couldn’t afford to do that, but realized that building a very simple, new house would cost about the same as restoring an old one. So he showed 10 acres for sale that he knew of. (Actually, it’s in two adjoining five acre parcels, but we wound up buying both of them.) The land was for sale because it was too steep & hilly to farm “conventionally,” the big equipment was at risk of rolling on the slopes.
I was sitting on a 5 gallon bucket staring at the hayloader. I had a significant amount of time and money invested. My wife, the great motivating influence in my life, walked up and asked what I was thinking. I was thinking about dropping the whole project and I told her so. She told me that it had better work since I had spent so much money and time on it already. She doesn’t talk that way very often so I figured I had better come up with a solution.
We have this gorgeous 1933 catalog in our archives and have been thinking about reprinting the entire thing to make available but aren’t sure there would be much of a market. Let us know if you have any interest. Any tool pricing that shows here is of course just for reference. These machines are not being manufactured now.
Feed-handling jobs which used to take hours of time and plenty of back bending are now done in a matter of minutes with little more than a lift of the hand, by means of chutes, augers, power lifts, portable elevators, movable hoppers, overhead catwalks, traveling feed boxes and other ideas similar to the examples shown on these pages. These are the days when feed handling had been powered-up to the point where 100 bushels of shelled corn can be loaded out of a bin into a truck in five minutes, and here’s how it’s done.
Dinnertime rolled around before we could get people and horses off the field so that results of judging could be announced. I learned a lot that day, one thing being that people were there to share; not many took the competition side of the competition very seriously. Don Anderson of Toledo, WA was our judge — with a tough job handed to him. Everyone was helping each other so he had to really stay on his toes to know who had done what on the various plots.
The efficiency of horse labor depends to large extent upon the serviceability of the harness. To get the best possible service from both the horse and its harness is an important factor in the profitable operation of a farm. A broken trace or hame during the rush season may cause an expensive loss of time, besides much inconvenience. Improper adjustment of collars and other parts may soon put the horse out of service with sore neck and shoulders. A rotted and weakened line or hame string may result in a serious accident and injury to both horse and driver. Also, because clean well-kept harness adds a great deal to the attractiveness of a team, the farmer should take pride in keeping his outfit in first class condition.
For the last ten years, I have made hay mostly with a single horse. This has not necessarily been out of choice, as at one time I had hoped to be farming on a larger scale with more horses. Anyway, it does little good to dwell on ‘what if ’. The reality is that I am able to make hay, and through making and modifying machinery, I probably have a better understanding of hay making and the mechanics of draught.
From reading the Small Farmers Journal, I knew that some people are equally happy with either model, but because McCormick Deering had gone to the trouble of developing the No. 9, it suggests they could see that there were improvements to be made on the No. 7. Even if the improvement was small, with a single horse any improvement was likely to increase my chance of success.
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.
Over the last few years of making hay, the mowing, turning and making tripods has settled into a fairly comfortable pattern, but the process of getting it all together for the winter is still developing. In the beginning I did what everyone else around here does and got it baled, but one year I decided to try one small stack. The success of this first stack encouraged me to do more, and now most of my hay is stacked loose.