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.
I am the smith, and I have come a long way since I nearly shattered my first knife. Through thorough application of being thrifty, not overworking myself, and pushing through hard times, I have become a blacksmith for the better. Blacksmithing is an incredible art of ancient origin. In these modern times, it has become almost lost, carried on by a select few. These select few can be strengthened by those who consider pursuing a noble interest and can carry on blacksmithing lore for another generation.
The McIntosh Threshing Bee of 2021 was, for the sake of the times, scaled down to a much smaller, safer group of participants. As for implements, they employed their Case threshing machine, an old Oliver tractor for belt drive and a John Deere grain binder. All of the equipment has been well maintained and is fully operational. Two days before the scheduled threshing, the Case separator was taken from barn storage along with the required hand tools; these included pitchforks and old wrenches, but also a shop vacuum cleaner, a grease gun, grease, oil and a compressor. All round the Case thresher there are many handy inspection ports and access doors. Jacob and Jamesy McIntosh use both compressed air and vacuum to disturb and remove any nests, dirt and settled chaff and seed. They work methodically walking around the big machine and cleaning through inspection holes then turning the corresponding pulleys a little to clean some more. They spend pretty much all of a half day with this process.
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.
With the rapid expansion in the small farm sectors around the world we are seeing, not only a return to time-honored, pre-chemical, organic production systems and a marriage of those to the most exciting, deeply thought-out, new organics, but also the intense inquiry into new and improved mechanical systems. At the top of most every new farmer’s equipment query list is a desire for the MOST appropriate technology.
The knotter has only two working parts. It is so simple and the adjustments are not delicate that almost anyone can keep it in working condition. The reason that no delicate adjustments are necessary is that the surface cord holder is unusually large. The surface holds the twine, yet it does not grip it too tightly to prevent the knotter from working properly. In tying a knot the cord holder feeds the twine toward the bill hook. This obviates the danger of breaking the twine.
I particularly enjoyed your “Setting Up A Binder” article in the last Small Farmer’s Journal. I noticed that the Champion binder has an IHC auto-steer tongue truck. I’m wondering if you know when that Champion binder was manufactured. There are many clever designs in the old horse machinery, but I have long admired how that tongue truck turns shorter than the tongue so a team can sidestep around a corner to line up for the next swath. We had one of these tongue trucks installed on a #9 mower back when Dad was still alive and farming. I still have a couple stashed in my windbreak.
To sharpen plowshares without aid, the tool to use is a heavy hand hammer with a rounding face. With such a tool it is possible to draw the share out to a thin edge by pounding on the upper side, at the same time keeping the bottom straight by holding it level on the face of the anvil. Drawing the edge out thin has a tendency to crowd the point around too much “to land.” This tendency should be corrected from time to time as the drawing out process progresses, by holding the edge against a hardwood block and driving the point back to its proper position. Of course it would dull the edge to hold it against the anvil while doing this straightening.
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.
Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten had no money. How could they build a house? The Central College students, both environmental studies majors, wanted to build a small, sustainable home for their senior project. They proposed a $3,350 budget — but when no grant money was available, they became scavengers to complete the project as cheaply as possible. With truckloads of reclaimed materials and 10 weeks to build, the students created a house for $489. “Everything we used was on its way to the landfill,” Andrews said.
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
Adjust the hitch down until the heel of the landside rests flat on the bottom of the furrow. The hitch should always be set as high as possible so that the plow will take the ground quickly, but care should be taken to see that the heel of landside runs flat in bottom of furrow. In case the plow has a tendency to run on its nose, the hitch should be lowered slightly until the heel of the landside runs flat in the bottom of the furrow. The position of the draft bars in a sidewise direction should be maintained by moving the hitch adjusting bar out as the bar is tilted downward.
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.
I first met Dan 10 years ago or more when I needed a radiator for my old John Deere A. Sure ‘nuff he had everything I needed and a whole lot more. With lots in common we became good friends. But as with so many things of such like, I completely put out of my mind my responsibilities as editor of this Journal until just the other day. Because it’s so close, and because I take it for granted, is no reason it wouldn’t help others to know about this ‘yard.’
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.
When I lived in Tennessee, I traveled to a lot of events selling the baskets that I made. This gave me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people. At one event I met the band director of a local school, his students were performing at the street event. The conversation turned to neither baskets nor music but rather gardening. He said he grew some of his own grain in his backyard garden. It grew across one end of the garden and he harvested it by hand. I had never heard of anyone doing such a thing. In this century at least. I was fascinated.
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.
If the reader is considering the construction of a barn we encourage you to give more than passing thought to allowing the structure of the gable to be open enough to accommodate the hanging of a trolley track. It is difficult or impossible to retrofit a truss-built barn, which may have many supports crisscrossing the inside gable, to receive hay jags. At least allowing for the option in a new construction design will leave the option for loose hay systems in the future.
Dear Lynn Miller and staff, Hello from Michigan! We have only just started to read your Journal, and have really enjoyed it. First off, thank you for your publication. It is always a special occasion when the journal arrives, my favorite part would have to be when the seasoned farmer imparts some knowledge. Secondly, my dad is trying to figure out how to make a PTO forecart, but we are having difficulty finding information on people who have made their own, or what dimensions to make the cart out of and such.
When hitching to the mower, first make sure it’s on level ground and out of gear. The cutter bar should be fastened up in the vertical or carrier position. This is for safety of all people in attendance during hitching.
When farrowing time comes the last of February or the first of March in the northern sections of the country, the sows and the young pigs will be better off in a good weather-tight house, such as the one shown above. This is the sort of farrowing house that keeps the young pigs warm and free from cold draughts that quickly end their lives. Besides, it has a system of ventilation that admits fresh air without drafts and prevents condensation that quickly coats the walls with water and frost.
A good many farmers are coming around to the idea that it pays to invest a little bit more in a building at the start so as to get away from the upkeep expense later on. They are turning to clay tile more and more. The building material dealers and the rural builders are lining up with the farmers on this proposition. The lumber dealers are carrying in stock a line of all the commonly used sizes, and the builders are finding out that it is no trick at all to lay up a tile wall and make a good job of it.
Storing is a quick, cheap, and easy means of preserving fruits and vegetables. A supply of fruits and vegetables in a home storage enables a family to use these products during the winter when they are often omitted from the family diet. Many rural families produce most of their fruits and vegetables, while others purchase many of them. If the needed winter supply can be purchased during the harvest period and placed into the home storage, an appreciable saving may be made. An adequate home fruit and vegetable storage is a practical and economical investment for each farm home.
This is my small beet grinder I built about 6 years ago. It has done nearly daily duty for that time. The beet fodder is added to my goat and rabbit rations which are largely homemade. Adding the pulp to the grain rations has aided me in having goat milk throughout the winter months. My beets are the Colossal Red Mangels. Many grow up to 2 feet long. I cut off enough for a day’s feed and grind it up each morning. Beets oxidize like cut apples. Fresh is best!
On the Gies farmstead we occasionally wallow in goat milk. From it we make our own butter, yogurt and cheese as well as drink some. This has prompted me to build a little cheese press to help with the extra milk. The press is made from inexpensive 1/2 inch thick plastic cutting boards used for the top and bottom plates and pressure disks, white pvc pipe, and a plastic floor drain cap.
As we start, consider a few things when building a pto cart. Are big drive tires necessary? Is a lot of weight needed? Imagine the cart in use. Try to see it working where you normally go and where you almost never go. Will it be safe and easy to mount or dismount? Can you access the controls of the implement conveniently? Is it easy to hook and unhook? Where is the balance point? I’m sure you will think of other details as you daydream about it.
It is more difficult to keep some horses in a respectable condition than others. The slab-sided, upstanding type of draft horse requires more grooming than the more compact, chunky individual. The latter is usually an easy keeper in other ways than grooming. It is not considered good practice to groom too heavily during shedding time, for the new coat is generally a trifle coarse if the old hair is removed too quickly. All grooming should be done when the horse is dry, especially thorough cleaning and grooming to remove dirt, sweat, and falling hair, otherwise sore shoulders will follow.
We were planning on having our cattle out in a sheltered field for the winter but a busy fall and early snows meant our usual fencing tool was going to be ineffective. Through the grazing season we use a reel barrow which allows us to carry posts and pay out or take in wire with a wheel barrow like device which works really well. But not on snow. This was the motivation for turning our sleigh into a “snow fencer” or a “sleigh barrow”.
The scoop has two steel sides about 5 feet apart sitting on steel runners made out of heavy 2 X 2 angle iron, there is a blade that is lowered and raised by use of a foot release which allows the weight of the blade to lower it and then lock in the down position and the forward motion of the horses to raise it and lock it in the up position. This is accomplished by a clever pivoting action where the tongue attaches to the snow scoop.
As I drove south in a rental car from Champaign to Arcola, and began to transition into the landscape stewarded by local Amish communities, subtle shifts began to appear in the land use patterns. Of course, the first noticeable change was that the farms had horses – and lots of them – big drafts for work in the fields, saddle horses, trotters for the buggies, and minis and ponies to haul the kids around in carts and to give first lessons in the joys and responsibilities of horsemanship.
This is my third Horse Progress Days, including 2008 in Mount Hope, Ohio, and 2016 in Howe, Indiana. We could note a few trends in a nutshell — how tall draft horses are back, and miniature horses (which are not stocky ponies but perfectly proportioned horses more pleasing to the eye) are being bred to ever more refined and useful conformations. How the current style for most big draft horses is to have their tails severely docked, though the tails of miniature horses are left long. By way of footwear these days there seem to be few of the brightly colored Crocs for the whole family, but gray and black Crocs aplenty. One huge change over three years ago is that here were as many bicycles, with and without baskets and trailers (and some with batteries and motors), as the dark square family buggies drawn by identical lean brown trotters and pacers. Bicyclers include both youthful and older farmers, using this healthy and efficient form of transportation to get around.
The great advantage of the rotary disc mower over the reciprocating cutter-bar (sickle bar) mower is that it will keep cutting without blocking up even in bad conditions of laid and tangled crop and in grass which is thick and wet in the bottom. This is why nobody uses anything other than high-speed rotary mowers in the maritime areas of western Europe.
The driller is like an auger type post hole digger powered by one horse walking around the machine. The gear is stationary. The platform and everything on it (including operators) goes around and around with the horse. The auger shaft is clamped to the platform so the auger makes one revolution as the horse makes one revolution. The gears operate a winch. It appears the winch can also be cranked by hand.
In the Winter 2016 SFJ, we briefly noted equipment modifications to make fieldwork easier and safer for Eric as he recovered from a debilitating autoimmune disease. Thinking that these add-ons might be of interest to other teamsters, we decided to briefly describe the three we consider valuable now that Eric has regained most of his strength and balance.
When we first sheared our sheep, we were at a loss as to what to do with the wool. Unwilling to throw it away, we shoved it into a pillowcase under the bed until winter brought time for projects. We looked into buying a spinning wheel, but the prices were far outside of our range. I had read that the first “Saxony Wheel” was made in the 1500s by a woodcarver who undoubtedly had fewer resources than I do, even with my simple shop and few tools. Then, he had to invent the thing from the ground up, shooting in the dark, while I could look and copy from spinning wheels in the neighborhood. I am somewhat mechanically inclined, about average as a handyman, and I was able to come up with a design that is simple to build, simple and dependable to use, and takes up almost no space in the house.
But to all who really want to farm – to accomplish something in developing a high agriculture along sane and wholesome lines – I would say, “Do not have too large a territory.” Not that I advise a really small one, but simply one within reasonable bounds. For beyond a certain limit it is not the size that counts. Not far from where I am now writing, for instance, is a farm of eight hundred and fifty acres, of which certainly seven hundred are arable land; and at about the same distance in another direction is one of only seventy acres that produces more than the big one.
I & J Mfg. started importing ESM sickle bar components which dramatically improved the basic hay mowers’ performance. Smoother operation meant less draft requirement which in turn led to a revolutionary new self-contained ground-drive mower made available in 2011. This was to be the first such successful design since the mid-twentieth century. I & J Mfg. offers kits to retrofit other mowers with their excellent sickle bar system.
One of the fun things about horse farming is the simplicity of many of the machines. This opens the door for tinkerers like me to express themselves. Sometimes it is just plain nice to take a proven design and build one of your own. Last spring I did just that. I built my own buckrake. I’m proud of the fact that it worked as it should and that my rudimentary carpentry skills produced it.
The Threshasaurus’s large size and curious nature may appear antagonistic, but they are mostly curious and largely non-threatening. Be careful when approaching, however, as they do have sharp teeth and many fast moving, exposed pulleys.
Here is a plan from which you can build a batch-type column drier that will give you continuous drying. One batch of wet grain is dried while a previously dried batch is cooling in the lower cooling chamber. The fan and motor used for drying wet grain and cooling dried grain are enclosed in an airtight shed attached to the drier. Both the cooling chamber and the drying chamber are screened. The fan pulls cool air through the warm, dry grain and pushes heated air through the wet grain, allowing continuous operation of the burner.
Because of the many varieties and mixtures of fertilizer, it is impossible to give complete tables listing them. It is, however, very easy to determine the distribution of any particular fertilizer by proceeding as follows. Put a cloth, or some large sheets of paper under the machine and turn the main driving wheel 57 times for 7′, 51 times for 8′ and 46 times for 9′ machine. Weigh the amount ejected which will indicate the amount distributed per one-tenth of an acre.
In order to get the best results both as to spreading manure evenly on the ground and to avoid heavy draft, the machine should be loaded at the forward end of the box first, and continue loading toward the rear until the cylinder is reached, being careful not to force the manure against the cylinder. This will allow the cylinder to start easily and the machine will draw much easier when loaded in this manner, the manure being more easily separated.
If you are in a position to choose which make and model of mower you might wish to work on might I put in my vote for either the McD/Internationals #7 & #9 or the John Deere Big Four. These were the last and most plentiful models made and some parts are still available with a fair measure of aftermarket cutter bar parts which are interchangeable.
Last Fall (1985) at Jonas Raber’s auction in Millersburg, OH, we met the folks from Iskcon Implements. They had a display of their horsedrawn equipment and I was impressed. I was most impressed in the riding disc-harrows and the sprayers. We offer you some photos and schematic drawing here for you to take a look yourself. They are very well built and the prices are reasonable. Nice folks, honest folks.
The John Deere Corn Binder is set up as illustrated in the following pages. The darkened portions of the progressive illustrations show clearly the parts to be assembled and attached in proper order. Where the instructions or the connecting points are numbered, follow closely the order in which they are numbered and lettered. Arrows are also used to point out important adjustments or parts that need special attention in setting up.
The binder attachment is adjusted when it leaves the factory, and will operate under average conditions without adjusting. Make no adjustments until all paint is worn off and important working parts are smooth. Successful operation depends largely on proper adjustment of all chains and the manipulation of levers for height of cut, position of butt pan, and tilting. These adjustments are provided to meet varying or extreme conditions. If knotter or twine tension adjustments are made and do not correct trouble, be sure to change back to original position, before making further adjustments.
Your John Deere Tractor has a range of speeds. These various speeds not only give you the flexibility and adaptability you want, but also they enable you to balance the load and the speed for maximum economy. However, if you are handling a light load and want to travel at slow speed, it is far better to put your tractor into the gear which gives you the speed you want than to use a higher gear and throttle down.
Check the adjustments on your spreader and make sure they are in proper operating condition. Hitch your team to the empty spreader to limber it up and see that it is working properly before loading. If you will turn the beaters over by hand before starting to the field, the spreader will start easier and will prevent throwing out a large bunch of manure when starting.
It is only natural for the owner of a new combine to want to try his machine as early as possible. This results in most new combines being started in the field before the crop is ready for combining. As soon as a binder is seen in the neighbor’s field, the urge to start becomes uncontrollable. When grain is ready for binding, it is not ready for straight combining.
The right-hand wheel is the driver, and is held in place by means of a large spring cotter, while the left-hand wheel is held by the two collars, one on each side of the wheel. See that the wheels are in line with the runners. For a team of average size, tongue casting should be in the center adjustment, raising or lowering according to the size of the team so that the front runs level.
When bolting the sections of elevator together be sure the upper trough ends overlap the upper trough ahead, and each lower trough is underneath the trough ahead, so the chains will slide smoothly. Bolt the short tie plates to the underside of troughs at the embossed holes in the middle of trough. When bolting on the head section, have the end of scroll sheet underneath the upper trough section. The lower cross plate in the head section must bolt on top of the return trough.
When starting a new side rake, turn the reel by hand to be sure it revolves freely and the teeth do not strike the stripper bars. Then throw the rake in gear and turn the wheel by hand to see that the tooth bars and gears run free. Breakage of parts, which causes serious delay and additional expense, can be avoided by taking these precautions before entering the field.
The John Deere Side Delivery Rake is set up as illustrated in the following pages. The darkened portions in the progressive illustrations show clearly the parts to be assembled and attached in proper order. Where the instructions or the connecting points are numbered follow closely the order in which they are numbered. Arrows are also used to point out important adjustments or parts that need special attention in setting up.
The John Deere-Syracuse No. 210 Sulky Plow is acknowledged to be the lightest-draft plow of its type. It does an extra good job of plowing in any kind of soil and under all conditions. It runs level and plows at uniform depth, always — even when turning square corners. It’s the all-wheel-carried plow that has established its superiority wherever the use of this type of plow is practical. The advantages of the No. 210 over the ordinary sulky are many. The special design of rolling landside, and the fact that the plow can be used with either the Syracuse or John Deere clean-shedding bottoms are features responsible for the extremely light-draft and good working qualities of the No. 210 in a variety of conditions.
Practically all trouble with new machines is due to improper setting up, faulty adjustments and lack of oil. The object of these directions is to assist you in setting up this machine correctly and operating it to the best advantage. By carefully following these simple instructions, one person can set up the machine. 1. Place all bundles where they will be handy.
There are four general plans, or methods of plowing fields. These are: (1) to plow from one side of a field to the other; (2) to plow around the field; (3) to plow a field in lands; and (4) to start the plowing in the center of the field.
There are several prerequisites to ploughing successfully: you need a workable plough, somewhere suitable to plough, and horses which will walk where you want them to, at a slow to moderate pace. You also need to know the feel of the plough, how to adjust it, and how to control the horses. Once you can do all these things, then you can plough, but for each one that you cannot yet tick off your list, the harder it will be to learn. Fortunately, some of these skills can be achieved before you ever get near a moving plough, and the more boxes you can tick before you start, the easier it will be. Let’s start by breaking down the act of ploughing into its component parts.
I will probably never get a chance to sit at the throttle of a steam engine heading up some winding mountain grade and feel the romance of the rails as the lonesome sound of a steam whistle echoes off canyon walls. Nor will I sit and watch out over the bowsprit of a schooner rounding Cape Horn as the mighty wind and waves test men’s mettle and fill their spirits with the allure of the sea. It is within my reach however to draw a living from the earth using that third glorious form of transport – the horse.
The horse drawn mowing machine is a marvel of engineering. Imagine a pair of horses turning the energy of their walking into a reciprocal cutting motion able to drop acres of forage at a time without ever burning a drop of fossil fuel. And then consider that the forage being cut will fuel the horses that will in turn cut next year’s crop. What a beautiful concept! Since I’ve been mowing some everyday I’ve had lots of time to think about the workings of these marvelous machines.
When I opened the kitchen door early this morning I was met by warm humid air and the sound of torrential rain. A monsoon, I thought. It’s what North-westerners call a “Pineapple Express,” a warm atmospheric river that follows the jet stream straight from Hawaii. The moisture laden clouds stack up against the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and the sky lets loose. It’s not uncommon for mountain areas to receive 5-10 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. Littlefield Farm sits in the foothills of the North Cascades and is a mighty wet little corner of the world. With 60 or more inches of rain at the farm annually, we are in the midst of only a handful of temperate rain forest regions of the world.
If we agree that quality of plowing is subject to different criteria at different times and in different fields, then perhaps the most important thing to consider is control. How effectively can I plow to attain my desired field condition based on my choice of plow? The old time plow manufacturers understood this. At one time there were specific moldboards available for every imaginable soil type and condition.
The arch was built on a small trailer axle that I cut down to 3 feet wide and tacked back together. This was done so that I could keep the wheels parallel. I cut the middle out after construction was complete. I used heavy wall pipe from my scrounge pile for the various frame parts. It is topped off with an angle iron bar for added strength and to provide a mount for the winch and some slots for extra chains.
This old-time neck yoke is a simple carved wooden piece with strings and hooks that is placed on a person’s shoulders for carrying buckets. I use my yoke for hauling water for our sheep, bringing collected maple sap back to storage containers, and supplying fresh cold well water to our home. When buckets need to be carried over any distance, this yoke does a wonderful job transferring the buckets weight from your hands and arms to the top of your shoulders. My grandfather made the pattern and showed me how to make one. This style of neck yoke has been used in my family and among friends for three generations. It is considered a valuable tool in our homesteading lifestyle.
Making do is an honored tradition in farming. Making do… with quirky horses, ancient machines, and fields with wrinkles and dents. I think that for seat-of-the-pants style making do, nothing beats the blending of flesh to iron to earth that occurs on a mowing machine. The wide sky, the horse sweat, hot leather, warm oil, hay sap, and sun-baked iron swirl together in a mix of making do and getting it done that few outside of workhorse circles can ever hope to experience.
The Marsden Hayrack was likely built in the early 20th century and was used in various forms until the mid-60’s. Sometimes called a “basket rack,” it wasn’t glamorous, so few pictures exist. One from 1953 shows it in the farm yard and it still had its original wood wheels and running gear. By the 1990’s little remained. I was able to bring to my shop the front axle, hounds, sand beam, tongue and one wheel. Fortunately, I was able to get all 4 sets of skeins and boxings for the wheels.
We recently acquired a full color McCormick publication which included, at its core, this information on their binder designs. In a previous issue we published the mower portion. There is additional info we will offer in a subsequent journal. It is our mission to keep such material alive.
McCormick Deering/International’s first enclosed gear model was the No. 7, an extremely successful and highly popular mower of excellent design.
Agriculturists throughout the world have long placed well-merited confidence in the McCormick line of mowers. Excellent material, combined with perfect design and splendid construction, make the McCormick mowers not only light in draft, but also exceedingly durable machines. In the following pages the different McCormick mowers are shown complete and in detail, accompanied by a brief description of each machine and its constituent parts.
To obtain the best results in shelling, the machine should be run so that the crank makes about forty-five (45) revolutions per minute or the pulley shaft one hundred and seventy-five (175) revolutions per minute. When driving with belt be sure that this speed is maintained, as any speed in excess of this will have a tendency to cause the shelled corn to pass out with the cobs. The ears should be fed into the sheller point first.
IMPORTANT TO McCORMICK DEERING OWNERS: This pamphlet has been prepared and is furnished for the purpose of giving the user as much information as possible pertaining to the care and operation of this machine. The owner is urged to read and study this instruction pamphlet and if ordinary care is exercised, he will be assured of satisfactory service.
The tilting lever, binder shifter lever, and butt adjuster lever, are all within easy reach of the operator. The perfection of binding depends on the care and skill with which they are used. The range of tilt may be varied by means of the tilting link which has three holes for adjustment. Shift the binder forward or back so that it will bind in the center of the bundle. In corn of average length the butt adjuster may be set about half way back and left there.
Gangs can be leveled for large or small horses and also when it is desirable for the front shovels to dig deeper or shallower than the rear, by means of the tilting lever on tongue. Depth levers are arranged so individual gangs can be adjusted to any depth. Also, they allow the gang to be raised out of the ground to clear any obstruction. Depth levers should be set so as to cultivate the desired depth, then the master lever should be used for raising and lowering at the end and beginning of rows. The master lever allows both gangs to be raised and lowered and the cultivator to balance automatically with the one operation. If the master lever is operated at the end of the row while the horses are still going forward, it will be found more convenient. This also applies when beginning a row.
Since the conditions encountered in the field are so varied that definite instructions would be of little value, the aim is to explain the effect of certain adjustments and leave it to the one making the adjustments to determine when they should be made. Determining the cause before attempting a remedy will simplify the task. Study the problem carefully before making any changes. There are four principal units in the Harvester-Thresher: The Heading, Threshing, Separating and Cleaning Units. Each should be considered individually to determine where loss of efficiency may be present.
Instructions for Setting Up and Operating the McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 VERTICAL LIFT TWO-HORSE MOWERS — Instructions pour le Montage et le Fonctionnement des FAUCHEUSES A DEUX CHEVAUX McCORMICK-DEERING No. 7 À RELEVAGE VERTICAL
In 1945 McCormick-Deering International published their Blue Ribbon Service Training Course “Serviceman’s Guide” for Hay Machines. Included in this excellent booklet is a section entitled “Horse-Drawn Mowers.” The material in this chapter section is all on their Number 9 High Gear Mower and offers some exceptional information presentations which are somewhat different from the operators manual. We reprint here, unedited, the complete contents of this section. Hope you find this material as useful as we have.
McCormick Deering (eventually International Harvestor) made what many believe to be one of the outstanding potato digger models. This post features the text and illustrations from the original manufacturer’s setup and operation literature, handed to the new owners upon purchase. This implement, pulled by two horses or a small suitable tractor, dug up the taters and conveyed them up an inclined, rattling chain which shook off most of the dirt and laid the crop on top of the ground for collection
Reviewing materials in our archive, I came across this pamphlet and was struck with the design features of this loader which suggest something a capable farm welder might be able to build. There are unique features here, including but not limited to the sled runner feet that allow for a buckrake-like functionality – a ‘float’ if you will. It has always been my view that appropriate technology points towards those designs we can get our minds and hands around.
When the milk has been poured into the supply can, and machine has attained its speed, the faucet should be fully opened. The milk will then flow through the regulating cover, down the feed tube and into the bowl, where separation of cream from the milk takes place. The skim milk passes from bowl to skim-milk cover and out into receiver; the cream enters cream cover, thence to receiver.
Small to mid-sized disc-harrows are a most useful tillage implement. Some farmers consider them indispensable. Discs such as the McD 10-A may be used with either tractors or big hitches of work horses. This tool will cut both plowed and unplowed ground. Ahead of the moldboard plow, the disc harrow is a valuable tool to cut up and free tough sod. When employed in tandem with spring tooth harrows, a great deal of work can be accomplished in much less time.
For best results, the draft angles (front frame) on the front harrow should be approximately level when the harrow is hitched to the tractor. If necessary, adjust tractor draw bar to obtain this result. In practically all field work the gangs should run level and cut at an even depth. Adjust the front harrow gangs to suit by raising or lowering the pressure plate at center of front harrow frame. The rear gangs may be leveled by raising or lowering the outer draw bar pressure plates. If the harrow ridges the soil between the rear gangs, the soil may be leveled by raising the inner end of the gangs, or by giving them less angle by moving the rear harrow frame forward at the three holes in the inner draw bars.
During the 1940’s, McCormick-Deering retrofitted its basic horsedrawn mower design to be pulled by tractors and added infrastructure so that two could be pulled, one just behind and offset from the other. Some of our Amish friends prize these “Trail” mowers for horsedrawn use recognizing that they are built a tad bit heavier. What follows is the actual Instruction manual, including set up notes, for that model. There are some mechanical tid-bits hidden in here that will assist the more avid shade-tree tinkerers.
After having worked the machine and previous to starting it again, see that the pickers move freely and are free from starch and dirt from the potatoes. When turning corners, raise the furrow openers by means of the raising levers, which also raises the covering disks. The marker should be raised when not in operation to prevent danger of breaking.
After having worked the machine and previous to starting it again, see that the pickers move freely and are free from starch and dirt from the potatoes. When turning corners, raise the furrow openers by means of the raising levers, which also raises the covering disks. The marker should be raised when not in operation to prevent danger of breaking.
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.
The new MINNESOTA Binder embodies every feature that is necessary to meet the demand for a binder that can be depended upon — not only to harvest this year’s crop, but each successive year’s under opposite and varied conditions. It is adverse conditions that test the mettle of a binder and if built to stand this strain without battle scars, then you know you have the kind of binder you need. The MINNESOTA binder is designed as a general-condition binder. It is heavier in weight because it is re-inforced to stand cutting on rough and hilly land. A MINNESOTA binder does not get out of alignment. It is easy running because it is equipped throughout with roller bearings. It is long lasting because the material of which it is made is in accordance with time tested specifications. Cheap material has no place in a MINNESOTA binder for its reputation is held higher than a profit.
Having unpacked the rake, place wheels on rake head temporarily, being sure to grease the axle. Connect thill frame to rake head; bolt trip lever bracket in place on beam and connect trip rods. See that the trip lever works freely. Secure wheels on axles, with washer R134 and cotter.
Moving beehives from one location to another is often a necessary step in apiary management. Commercial beekeepers routinely move large numbers of hives often during a season, to pollinate crops, avoid pesticide applications or to utilize specific honey flows. Beekeeping hobbyists may also move bees to distant honey flows or pollination sites, or to bring home a newly purchased hive.
Baled hay requires about 400 cubic feet to store a ton. A draft horse can easily eat 5000 pounds or about 1000 cubic feet of hay in a year, even if pasture is available in the summer. This would fill a 12 foot by 12 foot room seven feet deep. Weight of hay is also a consideration as anyone who has stacked square bales on a wagon behind a baler knows. Confronted with these big volumes of heavy stuff we recently converted most of our hay making from square bales to round bales. This greatly reduced the labor to get the hay bales, but left us with new questions about hay handling and feeding.
About 10 years ago, I began hearing about the German ESM “Busatis bidux” cutterbar sold by I & J Mfg. It seemed that everyone was impressed by the double acting sickle bar and I couldn’t help wondering if it would improve the mowing action of my ground drive mower in my soggy, fine-but-wiry summer grass.
Scythes were used extensively in Europe and North America until the early 20th century, after which they went out of favor as farm mechanization took off. However, the scythe is gaining new interest among small farmers in the West who want to mow grass on an acre or two, and could be a useful tool for farmers in the Tropics who do not have the resources to buy expensive mowing equipment.
As long back as most of us can remember, the plain people were using buggies for transportation. Buggy frames were mounted atop wood wheels that turned on large solid steel axles. Today, more new technology is available for buggies. Torsion axles, fiberglass and steel wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, LED lights, and sealed batteries — the list could continue.
There is no fixed method of loading. The best results are usually obtained by starting to load at the front end, especially in long straw manure. To get good results do not pile any manure into the cylinders. The height of the load depends upon the condition of the manure, the condition and nature of the field. Do not put on extra side boards. Be satisfied with the capacity of the machine and do not abuse it. Overloading will be the cause of loss of time sooner or later.
For proper operation the outer end of the cutter bar should lead the inner end when the machine is not in operation. After long use the cutter bar may lag back and if this happens it can be corrected by making adjustments on the cutter bar eccentric bushing as follows: First making sure that the pin and bolt in the hinge casting “A” Fig. 5 are tight and in good condition.
When we see an old barn that has fallen into ruin or that has been torn down to put up a new pole barn or other building, it just about breaks our hearts. So when we started talking about what kind of buildings we wanted on our twenty-three acres (there were none) my husband, Brian, and I decided we wanted to try to find an old post and beam barn to dismantle and rebuild instead of a pricey, new-fangled pole barn which we couldn’t afford.
The history and development of the new Pioneer Cultivator started in 2009 through a Horse Progress Days connection with two young men, Jelmer Albada and Ties Ruigrok from Netherlands. Both young men spent a few months working on local Amish farms to learn about animal husbandry and soil fertility. Jelmer returned to Horse Progress Days in 2012 with a presentation on shallow tillage practices that are gaining popularity in Europe and South America. Shallow Tillage originated in Europe where environmental regulations are much stricter than in America – thrusting them in the forefront of organic weed control. “But how is that possible?” was the question asked by many when they saw the pictures of Jelmer cultivating numerous rows of vegetables with a single horse.
Because the animals push the load with their foreheads, there are several factors that affect draft. One of the most important is that the steers need to have short thick necks so that there is less tendency for the neck to curve or sway. This is why the preferred breeds for oxen in Nova Scotia are Hereford crosses, most often Hereford x Durham. The angle of draft is controlled by a pole, or wooden tug, that is attached to the yoke with two adjustable lengths of chain. The angle with which the tug meets the yoke can be adjusted so that when the steers push into the load, the draft neither forces their heads up too high nor down too low. Like all draft animals, they need a constant angle of draft that allows them to lift the load.
Perusing through old books and magazines in the Small Farmer’s Journal library, one of my favorite things is the old advertisements. They provide some of the greatest archaeological evidence of how things have changed, and of how they have stayed the same. Here are some ads from Deering and one from Willys-Overland Jeep.
The Model “B” is ideal general-purpose power for farms of medium size. Available with either all-fuel or more powerful gasoline engine. Standard equipment includes self-starter, front and rear lights, power shaft, belt pulley, and power lift. Powr-Trol, Roll-O-matic front wheels, and a wide variety of integral equipment also available. The Model “A” matches the power requirements on larger row-crop farms. It has an abundance of power to handle big-capacity plows, bedders, and disk harrows, four row cultivators and the larger harvesting and belt-driven machines.
This cultivator has many features which farmers everywhere know to be desirable. Its extremely simple construction is combined with unusual strength and durability. Light in draft and easily operated it makes cultivation work easy for man and team.
Hitching to the rake. Rake is designed to work with pole thirty-one inches or shafts forty-two inches from the ground, measuring underneath at front end. Only at this height are best results obtained. Oftentimes a rake does not do satisfactory work because the neckyoke holds the pole too high or too low, usually too low. If pole or shafts sag in the middle, remove, turn pole over and rebolt to rake. Keep pole bolts tight.
In North America, horn knobs have been fixed to cattle for over 150 years. It is likely in foreign countries that horn knobs adorned the horns of oxen for several hundred years. In some regions they are called horn buttons or horn balls. I have seen the knobs made of steel and aluminum, but most commonly are made of brass. The styles and shapes run from simple hex shaped like those used in New England to multi-layered shapes and quite ornate like those used in Nova Scotia, Europe, and South America.
Perfection in dropping corn is what is most desired by all farmers, and we claim, without fear of successful contradiction, that, in the Diamond Planter, we have the most perfect planter made, not only in respect to accurate dropping, but also in convenience and durability – two other very important considerations. We have made a careful study the past season of the fields planted with the Diamond Planter, and those planted with other planters, on some of which the manufacturers are making great claims of “accurate dropping,” and the results only strengthen us in our position that the Diamond has no equal.
For surface cultivation the Gopher gangs have become quite popular, and in response to a general demand we have brought out the Jewel Surface Cultivator. The frame is of the same general construction as the regular Jewel with such changes as are necessary to attach the Gopher gangs, and in place of the pendulum movement, ratchet levers are used for raising the gangs. The foot-rests are adjustable, giving the operator an easy position and enabling him to do the most effective work.
These images came as patent documents in a group of other wagon related inventions from the 19th century. They were sent to us by Journal reader and friend Gail C. Millard. We give hearty thanks. LRM
The lifting mechanism for this plow is a foot-operated lever which allows the operator to use both legs for lifting and setting. This foot-operated action means the operator can keep his hands on the lines at all times. The steering tongue means the plow will turn sharp on headlands for safety and efficiency. It also provides assurance on hilly terrain or with new horses, that the plow will not run up on their heels. Levers on both sides permit the operator to set the frame level for accurate plowing.
This information on Planet Jr. two horse equipment is from an old booklet which had been shared with us by Dave McCoy, a horse-logger from our parts: “Think of the saving made in cultivating perfectly two rows of potatoes, beans, corn or any crop planted in rows not over 44 inches apart, at a single passage. This means double work at a single cost, for the arrangement of the fourteen teeth is such that all the ground is well tilled and no open furrows are left next to the row, while one man attends easily to the work, with one team.”
All other aspects being equal, the primary difference in plowing, comfortably, with a single horse is that the animal walks on unplowed ground immediately adjacent to the previous furrow, rather than in the furrow. This will cause the point of draft at the shoulder to be somewhat higher and will dictate hitching longer and/or higher than with the animal walking down 5 to 8 inches lower in the furrow.
An important feature of the range shelter described in this circular is that it is portable. Two men by inserting 2x4s through the holes located just below the roost supports and next to the center uprights can easily pick up and move it from one location to another. Frequent moving of the shelter prevents excessive accumulation of droppings in its vicinity which are a menace to the health of the birds. Better use will be made by the birds of the natural green feed produced on the range if the houses are moved often.
The primary object of storage is to hold a more or less perishable product in a salable and edible condition throughout as long a period as may be economically desirable. In the case of the potato, the storage of the late or main crop and of second- crop potatoes intended for winter or spring consumption or for seed purposes is of primary concern. The early or truck crop is usually sold as harvested, but there may be seasons when, owing to low prices, it might be found profitable to store the crop for a short period, or until such time as market conditions justify its disposal.
Both houses are the same except for roof construction. Floors are on concrete laid over hollow tile on gravel fill. Windows are provided with draft shields and tip in. Additional ventilating sash are located in rear walls under dropping boards. Nests are made so that they are easily removed from wall for cleaning the roosts or made so that they may be raised over dropping boards for the same purpose.
Success with raising poultry, whether for eggs or meat, feathers or breeding stock, all of it depends on keeping the birds healthy and vigorous – and one important element in that equation is housing. Good breeding and the best feeding are vitally important but even those factors won’t get you maximum return unless the birds enjoy the best possible, disease-free, environment.
Once upon a time there were no gas (or steam) powered motors. Necessity begets innovation and every discovery simply lays the foundation for the next. Mechanization arose, yet for a long time the only power sources were a person’s two hands or the four legs of a draft animal. An under appreciated amount of hand and draft powered machinery came to be. Among these were horsepower units. A set of gears set in motion by a draft animal walking a circular track pulling a tongue.
After about two weeks of labor spread over the summer and around $600, we had rehabilitated the hay loader to its former glory and it was time to put it to the test. We towed it out there, engaged the hubs, and off we went! It worked better than we ever imagined. We brought a 70 year old machine back to life, and with liberal applications of grease and oil, it should last at least another 70 years!
To select a Model 8, 10 or 10A for rebuilding, if you have a few to choose from – All New Idea spreaders have the raised words New Idea, Coldwater, Ohio on the bull gear. The No. 8 is being rebuilt in many areas due to the shortage of 10A’s and because they are still very popular. The 10A is the most recent of the spreaders and all three can be rebuilt. The 10 and 10A are the most popular for rebuilding as parts are available for putting these spreaders back into use.
How to remove the wheels of a No. 9 McCormick Deering Mower, an excerpt from The Horsedrawn Mower Book.
No sooner had we arrived in Great Falls, and Nick put forth a wonderful idea – Grant-Kohrs needs a horse drawn dump wagon. Betty knows where a couple of them are, and we could restore one for the Ranch’s use. Grant-Kohrs will pay for any materials needed and we would donate the labor. Nick had brought his flatbed trailer and we could leave in the morning for Brady, MT, to meet Harvey & Marcia Hollandsworth. Out across the wheat lands of Montana we did go. Betty and Marcia had worked together for years with the 4-H clubs and Harvey, like Nick and me, is short on only one thing – TIME! We are never bored and we have way too many projects to complete in a normal lifetime. A good condition to have! One of the wagons was made by the Russell Co. and the other was made by the Western Wheeled Scraper Works located in Aurora, IL.
We have in our archives this interesting and informative booklet on a manure spreader from circa 1900. We have reproduced the whole pages for you to give a complete picture of how good a job of selling these old companies did, especially when it came to the presentation of real engineering advancement. Hope you enjoy it.
Some years ago I was involved in discussions at Horse Progress Days about the new cultimulchers that several companies were making. One old farmer, almost as old as I, said those weren’t cultimulchers. His dad had used a Moline ‘cultimulcher’ and it looked nothing like these. While it is true that Moline made a tool called a rotary hoe which they said cultivated while making a surface mulch, is it the same? Well here, straight from their original catalog, we offer Moline’s candidate. You decide.
First of all and maybe most importantly, I cannot take credit for this contraption as the idea came to me from my friend and mentor Wes Ferguson. I bought the original spike from him, then improved on it somewhat. To my knowledge, there are only two like this in existence, and I had a hand in building both of them. Anyone with a welder and some basic metalworking skills can make one of these. The trick is to make sure it is balanced properly to handle large bales.
The most satisfactory method of sowing any of the small grains is with the grain drill. The largest yields are obtained from fields where the seed have been deposited evenly and in the right amount in a firm, compact soil and covered at a uniform depth. It is practically impossible to secure these conditions when the seed are sown with a broadcast seeder.
Rope of one kind or another forms an essential part of the equipment of most farms. From clothes lines to hay ropes, from binder twine to halters for the livestock, ropes of many kinds and sizes are in constant use about the farmstead. Like any other piece of farm equipment, its efficiency and economy depends upon its suitableness as to size and quality for the purpose for which it is used, the load of work put upon it, and the care or abuse with which it is handled.
Perhaps the best reason for the popularity of self-feeders, aside from their saving of labor or backache, is that pigs are especially adapted to self-feeding. As a rule, pigs do not overeat when they first use a self-feeder, and for this reason are little troubled with digestive disorders. Self-feeders are a boon to fall pigs, too, for hand-feeding them leaves a long stretch during cold winter nights when their little stomachs crave feed. A self-feeder at such times is an excellent pantry for them.
These photos were taken over two days this fall, ahead of the threshing on the McIntosh Lazy M Ranch in Terrebonne, Oregon. Their standby binder for several years has been a meticulously maintained John Deere. Recently Mike McIntosh acquired a second binder from the Rumgay estate; this one, a New Champion, is in excellent original condition but has not seen use in many years. A day ahead of the threshing Mike, Jacob and Jamesy allowed me to join them in assembling and assessing the unit for a test flight.
Below is a short piece from Starting Your Farm, by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller. Click the links below to see Chapter One of Starting Your Farm and to view the book in our online bookstore. “You may have purchased a farm with a fantastic set of old barns and sheds. You, on […]
The 1938 SILVER KING is more than a NAME. It’s constructed right – only the best materials are used throughout, and the workmanship is of the highest quality. From end to end – the 1938 Silver King gives you more desired features than any other tractor. Accessible – easy to drive – the Silver King makes work a pleasure.
The remainder of this section on Agricultural Implements is about homemade equipment for use with draft animals. These implements are all proven and serviceable. They are easily worked by a single animal weighing 1,000 pounds, and probably a good deal less. Sleds rate high on our homestead. They can be pulled over rough terrain. They do well traversing slopes. Being low to the ground, they are very easy to load up.
To dig with a slip scoop the dirt must be fairly loose. If it isn’t they used a hook shaped ripper to loosen it first. Your lines must be around your back under one arm only, not around your waist, because if that scoop trips unexpectedly (and it will) you want to be able to get out of its way. Ideally your lines should be just long enough that when starting out between handles you can stop horses by leaning back and to control speed. You don’t want to be leaning too far forward, it’s like a walking plow, you must be comfortable, it’s hard enough work without making it harder.
Want to groom sled trails, freeze skid trails, or set cross-country ski trails? Here is a relatively inexpensive device that has numerous advantages over the conventional chain link fence, bedspring, log, tractor tire, etc. It is easy to construct, manhandle, and store. One of the major advantages over some other methods is that it allows the snow to stay on the trail rather than pushing it to the side. This action allows it to cover rough surfaces such as roots, rocks, and ruts.
For one month in the spring of 2016, I had the opportunity to join Alexander Vido in demonstrating the use of the scythe to harvest wheat in India, where the tool has been practically unknown. That country perhaps stands to gain more from the use of scythes than any other, because of the hundreds of millions of its farm workers who still harvest wheat and rice with sickles.
Our friend, Mark Schwarzburg came by the office with an old wooden box he inherited from his great great great grandfather, Henry Schwarzburg. In it is a lovely, very old working wooden model of the stationary baler Henry helped to invent. Also were found, on old oil-skin paper, beautiful original engineer’s drawings for patent registry; and a brochure for the actual resulting manufactured implement.
I had only been to Horse Progress Days once before, at Mount Hope, Ohio in 2008. It had been an eye-opener, showing how strong and in touch with sustainable farming values the Amish are, and how innovative and sensible their efforts could be. So at the 23rd annual event in Howe, Indiana, I was there partly looking for signs of continuity, and partly for signs of change. Right off I spotted an Amish man with a Blue Tooth in his ear, talking as he walked along.
We conclude our online presentation of Volume 41 Issue 2 with beautiful photos from Walt Bernard’s Workhorse Workshops (www.workhorseworkshops.com) and some hard-to-find info on the McCormick-Deering Plain Fluted Feed “R” Grain Drill Grain Indicator Plate.
The Appleton Husker and Shredder itself was one of the very first placed on the market and it has been a great success from the start, each succeeding season serving to emphasize its success and to increase its popularity. This unequaled success is due largely to the possession of certain exclusive features which have remained practically unchanged during all the years it has been on the market. Chief among these are our knife-roll husking device, our interchangeable cutting and shredding heads, our method of driving all working parts by a single heavy belt, our superior separating and cleaning device, and our swiveling ear corn carrier and convenient blower.
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.
The project for the winter of 2010 was a Champion No. 4 mower made sometime around 1878 by the Champion Machine Works of Springfield, Ohio. The machine was designed primarily as a mower yet for an additional charge a reaping attachment could be added. The mower was in remarkably good condition for its age. After cleaning dirt from gears and oiling, we put the machine on blocks and found that none of the parts were frozen and everything moved.
This plow has all original paint. It sat under a tarp. The dark red spots had punched through the tarp. The share points show no wear at all. It has one regular bottom and the left is an Alfalfa bottom. It was no doubt a show room display or demonstration model. Notice the 1/4 bolts threw the rim that held rubber knobs which deteriorated. Original plows were all red but these wheels have never been anything but green. Original evener combination for 2 or 3 horses also was green.
In the morning we awoke to a three quarters of a mile long swath of old growth mixed conifer and aspen trees, uprooted and strewn everywhere we looked. We hadn’t moved here to become loggers, but it looked like God had other plans! We had chosen to become caretakers of this beautiful place because of the peace and quiet, the clean air, the myriad of birds and wildlife! Thus, we were presented with a challenge: how to clean up this blowdown in a clean, sustainable way.
The true ‘Jackson Fork’ is arguably the single most iconic product invented by Byron Jackson, of early 1900’s San Francisco – but it was by no means the only important innovation/product Jackson engineered. As these old cuts testify, he designed many devices and systems for forage handling. Some, like the Threshing Outfits, were geared for handling large volumes of grain crop.
The first step was to decide on an appropriate chassis, or “running gear.” Eventually I chose to go with the real deal, a wooden-wheeled gear with leaf springs rather than pneumatic tires. Wooden wheels last forever with care and are functional and look the part. I bought an antique delivery wagon that had been left outdoors as an ornament. I was able to reuse some of the wheels and wooden parts of the running gear.
The time for mowing and harvesting will be here before we know it. It is then that many game birds and mammals are sacrificed to the cruel knives of farm implements. This annual slaughter of our valuable wildlife can be stopped to great degree if the farmers can be induced to use a flushing device which has been so effective in recent years.
No sooner was first crop hay “put up” and it was time to “shock grain”. We could see it coming, a sea of green oats slowly turning to a duller, lighter green, then toward a yellow hue. The oats were ripening. It was a beautiful sight to witness the undulating fields turning golden yellow. Dad would walk out into the oat fields of the 238 acre farm out on Oak Grove Ridge in the heart of Crawford County, near Seneca in southwestern Wisconsin. He would reach down and pull a few grains from the stalks. Then he would shuck the grains in his hand and open up the husks, inspect the fullness of the pods, and shake a handful of oats for heft. Dad would announce at the supper table, “Tomorrow, we get the grain binder out.”
Readers of this publication will recognize the names of Albano Moscardo and Paul Schmit as authors of an important, multi-year series of scientific articles pertaining to animal-powered agriculture. It was, perhaps, only logical that their important work would find its way to formal publication beyond periodicals and website. We are pleased to announce that the first book of their multiple volume effort, Guidebook 1: The Harness for Draught Horses, has been published and is available to the public. The dramatic and appropriate clarity of this presentation, superbly enhanced by the illustrations of Albano, makes of it a most useful work of scholarship and applicability.
Grain growers were quick to appreciate the many outstanding features of the John Deere No. 5 Combine – quick to see in it the answer to a demand for a light-draft, long-lived, grain-saving combine. All through the last combining season, they were enthusiastically asking friends, “Have you see the new John Deere No. 5?”
As an anniversary gift my wife took me to Horse Progress Days in Pennsylvania for 2017. I watched the haying display and a few other things before meandering out behind the big field to the vegetable tillage area. As I walked down the lines of equipment I spotted a plow. The world sort of faded away as a rush of awe swept over me. My chest was tight as I neared the plow and I stood breathlessly looking at everything I had hoped for in a small plow bottom.
Last spring I put a handle on a curious gardening tool I picked up at the FALCI company in Italy. Ashley, our 17-year-old (a seasoned gardener and enthusiastic digging fork user), was first to try it. She came back excitedly in a rather short time with a request: “Call to Italy right away and have them send us more of these.” “These” are the Magna Grecia hoes, popular in the Calabria region of South Italy but, interestingly, known in very few other places.
Next came the haying accoutrements. Any self-respecting tractor (not to mention tractor owner) needs lots of these – front parts, back parts, parts to pull, parts to push… the list is endless. And over the following months our farmyard began to look like a used machinery lot. First Jim bought a couple of extras for the tractor: a frontend loader (with eight ferocious teeth) and an auger for drilling holes. Oh, the bliss now of putting up fencing. Then came the big time spending on the haying “team.” After assiduous attendance at farm sales we managed to put together the whole shebang: mower, tedder, rake, and lastly, the grand old man of them all, the baler.
Finding an old butter churn at a flea market, one that is still usable can be a lot of fun, and because there are so many types, it’s good to know a few tips to help you find one that works well for you. For one thing, the size of your butter churn must match your cream supply so that your valuable cream gets transformed into golden butter while it’s fresh and sweet, and that your valuable time is not eaten up by churning batch after batch because your churn is too small.
The basic needs that we are addressing here are as follows: To create a sunny, airy (not drafty), dry, convenient, accessible place to bring in our cow or cows, with or without calves, to be comfortably and easily secured for milking and other purposes such as vet checks, AI breeding, etc. where both you and your cow feel secure and content. A place that is functional, clean, warm and inviting in every way.
The planting distances or intervals at which the water is released, is controlled by the gear and pinions under the shield near the driver’s right foot. The large, flat-faced gear should be so turned that the arrow on the back points straight up. The numbers on either side of the arrow will then be so arranged that the number 1, 2, 3 and 4 will be on the side of the water trip lever and will denote the various positions in which the Driven Pinion meshes with the gear.
The Oliver No. 23-B reversible sulky plow is a horse-drawn riding plow that can be set to turn the soil to either side, thus allowing the use of highly-efficient plowing “patterns.” The machine was manufactured by the Oliver Chilled Plow Works of South Bend, Indiana, over the period from about 1917 through 1934. It has a very ingenious mechanism, the crafty geometry of which obscures its principles of operation. In this article I describe the Oliver 23-B and explain its mechanism and the way it supports the many special features of the machine. Some background is first given on the concepts of plowing.
The Savonius rotor was originally designed by Finnish inventor Sigurd Savonius in 1922. It is classed as a drag-type device, and is understood to have relatively low efficiency but high reliability. Interest in the Savonius rotor and other types of Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) became elevated during the oil embargo and resulting energy crisis. Also, during the 60s and 70s, the Savonius was considered as an example of appropriate technology for rural development in the third world due to its low maintenance requirements.
In order to secure the ideal condition for seed germination and plant growth, a seed-bed for planting should not be too deep and mellow. The soil should be mellow and well pulverized only about as deep as the seed is to be planted. Below this the soil should be firm and well settled, making a good connection with the subsoil, so that the water stored therein may be drawn up into the surface soil. The firm soil below the seed supplies the needed moisture, while the mellow soil above it allows sufficient circulation of air to supply oxygen and favors the warming of the soil by gathering the heat of sunshine during the day and acting as a blanket to conserve the soil heat during the night.
The origin of this highly useful tool is, as one might expect, lost in the dim shadows of man’s early attempts to domesticate animals he deemed useful. No historians were present when one thoughtful shepherd picked up a long stick, and began poking his sheep to get them moving in a particular direction. Or when he found that a short, angled branch on the end of the stick could be used to hook his animals when it became necessary to catch them. Or when he found that by actually bending the wood itself to make a hook, the strength of the overall instrument was increased. But one might assume, following a logical progression of thought, that the creative process went something along those lines.
This event is about showcasing new innovations in animal power but it is also a place to show-case ingenuity, inventiveness, plus tools, parts and pieces. From my many visits to this stellar annual event I have long known that folks travel here specifically to shop for equipment. So I thought to gather some pictures and info from that perspective. If I had the money and were shopping, what items would I want to put on my shopping list? I found some I needed, some I wanted, some I felt drawn to and a few without justification.
The top two thirds of these pages features a reprint of the circa 1905 catalog from the Standard Garden Tool company. Across the bottom third of those pages we are running some of the illustrations of cultivator shovel setups from Lynn R. Miller’s Horsedrawn Tillage Tools. This book, originally published in 2001, has been out of print for 19 years. We are pleased to announce that it is once again available.
Within true horse-power circles, where natural partnerships with working animals are embraced and cherished, the family unit is paramount. Tools are being designed today so that a husband and wife with two to four work animals can see their work done. Scale is a defining aspect, going forward and backward. It is liberating and it is enlivening. Elegant even. And for us, we see the evidence both from afar and up close. Now to focus on what 25 years has taught us.
Little need be said about the first principles in poultry raising, but a few introductory remarks about comfortable quarters for the flock may pave the way for the description of the straw-loft poultry house illustrated in sketches shown. It goes without saying that the laying hen must have comfortable quarters if she is to be expected to produce her maximum yield. Warmth, dryness and protection from preying animals are the prerequisites to comfort. The poultry house sketched here is a practical starting unit embodying all of the protection features so essential in poultry raising.
What I have come to call the “triple tree trainer” is simply using a three abreast hitch to bring mules along slow and deliberate to train them to pull triple, double and single. I am certain that I am not the first to use this device as a training method. I first saw a tongue designed similar to this hooked to a restored fire engine at the Mule Day’s parade in California. It was then, as I studied the hitch, it occurred to me that it would be very useful in helping me overcome some difficulties in training mules to the tongue and to shafts.
When horses were the main source of power on every farm, in the British Isles it was the tip-cart, rather than the wagon which was the most common vehicle, and for anyone farming with horses, it is still an extremely useful and versatile piece of equipment. The farm cart was used all over the country, indeed in some places wagons were scarcely used at all, and many small farms in other areas only used carts.
It is now possible to purchase a make of machine to suit almost any condition if the money is available. There is no doubt that eventually they will be quite generally used. However, the dry farmers are at present hard pressed financially and in many instances the purchase of very much machinery is out of the question. For the man of small means or limited acreage, a homemade implement may be utilized at least temporarily.
A hallmark of the Pioneer Equipment system has been their superb, field-tested engineering coupled with production-line planning which has resulted, repeatedly, in affordable, durable implements sold now ‘round the world. But I must hazard to offer that ahead of even that, has been vision. Wayne saw a need and a possibility when many, back then in the 70’s and 80’s, saw little or none.
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.
The decision to depend on horses or mules in harness for farm work, logging, or highway work is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Aside from romantic notions of involvement in a picturesque scene, most of the considerations are serious.
The illustrations in this Catalog will clearly demonstrate the many desirable features of the “Eddy No. 6” Corn Planter – features that are exclusive and of vital importance to the corn grower who desires to plant his corn so that it is easily worked and will yield the greatest number of bushels per acre. The “Eddy No. 6” Corn Planter combines the Edge Selection as well as the Flat Selection. That is, the purchaser gets an Edge Drop as well as a Flat Drop equipment with every “Eddy No. 6” Corn Planter at no additional cost.
Cultivators are now so varied and improving every year, that it is hard to say that any particular one is the best. There are many patterns more or less valuable. My rule in all such things, when purchasing at an implement or a seed warehouse, is to ask what tool is in largest demand for a certain purpose, and I usually find that the public in the long run finds out which is the best article, and that the article most in demand is the one usually having the most merit.
The problem horseloggers face is reducing skidding friction yet maintaining enough friction for holdback on steep skids. The cart had to be as simple and maneuverable as the basic two wheel log arch which dangles logs on chokers. We wanted it to be light, low, with no tongue weight, no lift motor to maintain, no arch to jam up and throw the teamster in a turn, and a low center of draft.
This numbered, all original U.S. Army Escort Wagon is in exceptional condition, formerly displayed at the Lewis Army Museum on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Note the sarven hubs and the California style box. The lower front box was suitable for carrying cannon balls. The Army wagon, also referred to as an Escort wagon, was traditionally pulled by 4-6 mules and was capable of carrying 3000 pounds. At the height of its utility during the Spanish-American War, the Army-Escort Wagon transported military troops, rations and gear. Parade and museum worthy.
The fact that electric or hybrid passenger cars, and even electric powered agricultural implements like GPS-guided precision seeders and planters, are promoted by the media and politics now, could tempt us to jump on this bandwagon and further develop other hybrid technologies for animal traction. However, taking into consideration the current discussions about the sustainability of battery production, their life cycle and recycling, as well as the environmental impact of electricity generation in general, we would partly give up some of the main arguments for the use of work horses, which are their 100% renewability on a local level, and their eco-friendliness, compared to any other source of motive power currently available in our high-tech world.
Grain must not be left in box after seeding. To clean box, drop gates. Disks and other important parts of machine would be covered with oil or grease, and the machine put under shelter. Good treatment prolongs the life of your machine.
The importance of poultry-house ventilation is generally conceded, but just what is meant by ventilation and how it may be accomplished is not so well known. It is becoming increasingly evident that adequate ventilation cannot be accomplished merely by throwing doors and windows wide open to let the wind blow into the house; the air conditions within the pen must be so controlled that weather has only a secondary effect.
It’s hard to say why I chose a walking plow. My neighbor tells me they make them with wheels. They make chairs with wheels, too, but I’m not anxious to own one. Land size figured in, and price, and working order, and things said by farmers old and young. I didn’t flip a coin, but I might as well. I decided to start with a walking plow, and at the Small Farmers’ Gathering in Missouri in 1987, I found just the one; a John Deere 16-inch plow with good wood handles.
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.
The goal of every flock owner is to produce eggs in late fall and winter when prices are highest. This can be done if the chicks are hatched early enough so as to develop into pullets that will begin laying in the fall. No matter how good the pullets are unless they are housed in a building which will provide them with warm quarters and at the same time give them plenty of fresh air, the maximum production cannot be secured.
I help to teach a class for aspiring farmers in the Sierra foothills. Invariably, we begin talking about when a new producer should purchase his or her first tractor. This seems to be a “guy” thing – the male of our species can’t conceive of a commercial farming enterprise without a tractor! For most start-up crop farms, however, a tractor shouldn’t be the first capital expenditure. Things like deer fencing, irrigation systems and hand tools are far more critical to a small-scale vegetable grower – buying a tractor to cultivate an acre of crops just doesn’t make economic sense.
Collar fit is critical and the various styles of collars help us to accomplish this. A horse with a flat sided neck will be best served by a full face collar, A horse with a thick upper neck will be best served by a half or full sweeney collar. Notice the apparent dip in the upper section on these styles. This allows the collar to seat down against the face of the animal’s shoulder rather than rocking on a thick neck and causing a sore shoulder.
We were most fortunate to be able to see and try the new White Horse Machine Leaf Spring Reset Plow at this year’s Auction. The Gap, Pennsylvania company has come up with a most important innovation permitting its riding plow to trip with an obstruction and then reset itself once the obstruction is passed. This is made possible with the ingenious flat spring that bows upwards to allow the jointed plow beam to swing back until the underground obstruction is passed.
White Horse Machine, in Pike Gap, PA, is an excellent Amish implement company that has been around for a very long time. They advertise with us regularly. Year after year, their innovations have created quite a stir at the annual Horse Progress Days. White Horse is one of a dozen or so successful and responsible horsedrawn equipment companies in the U.S. They offer an ingenious forecart design with many options. Their line of plows is especially good.
Forges fired by wood charcoal have been a mainstay in blacksmithing history for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Regions in North America that did not have access to high quality coal and coke depended on wood based charcoal as a forging heat source. Wood charcoal is still a primary blacksmithing fuel in much of the world. In recent years there’s been a renewed interest here in the Pacific Northwest in utilizing our abundant wood resources to provide fuel as an alternative to coal for smithing.
Here are fourteen work bridle styles taken from a 1920’s era harness catalog. Regional variants came with different names and configurations, so much so that we have elected to identify these images by letter instead of name so you may reference these pictures directly when ordering harness or talking about repairs or fit concerns with trainers or harness makers. In one region some were know as pigeon wing and others referred to them as batwing or mule bridles.
The work harness prevalent in North America over the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries evolved slowly to its unique design. Stemming in the beginning from European engineering, which may have their origins reaching back to Greco-Roman and even Egyptian and Phoenecian ages, the primary influence has been the demands of function. Rather than get into arguments about what harness type or design is best, the purpose of this work is to build an introduction worthy of harness makers and arm-chair historians.
When I first looked intently at harnessed mules and horses and longed to understand how the system worked, it was the harness that confused me even more than the anatomy and movements of the animals, even more than the overall system. I saw a tangled basket of straps, chains, ropes, all seeming to have purpose. Yes, there were some diagrams in dusty libraries and old books and these did offer basic explanation of the structural design of some harness varieties. But those didn’t help me to understand in a truly useful way. It would be a few years before I would have my own first team and a pile of old harness to figure out. The little bit of book learning and diagram scanning I did failed to educate me. I have told the story before of how my innocence and arrogance got me into big trouble the first time I harnessed and tried to drive a team. Some of that tragedy came from the harness being put on all wrong, making it unable to function properly. That does not need to be the case with newcomers today.
The tugs, from their attachment to the hames usually traveling back along the animal, best perform at an angle of 80 to 100 degrees to the line of the hames. If the angle is significantly less than 80 degrees the tugs may pull up and back on the collar, but only if the belly band is not adjusted properly. When it is, this will ‘interrupt’ an aggravated angle preventing the horse from being choked by a forward rocking collar. If the belly band is too loose it won’t hold the forward portion of the tug in line. As each and every horse’s angle of shoulder is different, and as the head-set of a pulling horse may be more or less down or up, these factors will affect the angle of the shoulder at work.
The backing and braking structure for the western basket brichen team harness. Though it is secondary in the overall function and purpose of the harness, it is potentially the more complex and variable portion of the system. It is useful to keep in mind that these combined straps are specific and vital to its named operation along with the related essentials of keeping a rolling vehicle or implement from running up on the heels of the animal or team and holding the front end of the tongue or pole up off the ground.
Two horses or mules working side by side are generally referred to as a team. The customary procedure for ‘driving’ them is to employ team lines which, fastened to the outsides of each of two bits, provides that the teamster may apply varying pressure. With experience, training and maturity, the teamster might learn to softly send messages to each equine, through light pressure at the corners of their mouths, as to preferred direction, speed, and halt.
Back in the Spring of 1995 we offered an insert in SFJ that was a set of plans for a Workboat Prototype. That was our name for an implement which sees multiple use on many farms and ranches. We had come up with a design, at Singing Horse Ranch, which we felt might have possibly contained the seed of something folks could expand on. Since then we have received many letters and photos from readers demonstrating that the plans did indeed offer a starting point of some value. We were heartened. As I said in that article we offered the design into the public domain claiming no property rights to the design and deeming that no one else should either. It was our small hope that along with the mechanic in the farm shop a small business might grab up the idea and make it available, at an affordable price, for those of us who are not able to build the sled at home.
This grand, old, operating steam tractor is one of the center pieces of the new and exciting Yamhill Heritage Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, home of the Oregon Draft Horse Breeders’ Plow Match. As my grandsons, Reuben, Ben and Jean Pierre would say “Wow, Grampa!” And that is the essence of a cultural and historical handoff that each and every community should be proud to say they valued.
Yoder’s Produce is a market garden seeds and equipment supply company located in the heart of Ohio Amish country. Anyone serious about growing produce would benefit from reviewing this company’s catalog. They offer a wide assortment of seeds and tools. From the process of creating raised beds in fresh tilled earth all the way through to fertilizing, planting and spray applications, Yoder’s offers exceptional equipment.