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19th Century Wisconsin Watercolorist

19th Century Wisconsin Watercolorist

Wisconsin in Watercolor: The Life and Legend of Folk Artist Paul Seifert, by Joe Kapler, is a superb 2018 art book from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The extensive spread of the fascinating and beautiful Seifert paintings would be reason enough for a lover of art to search out this volume. Add in the wonderfully researched and written story of this illusive gentleman and his life’s work and you’ve a double treasure.

About Making and the Use of Rivets

About Making and the Use of Rivets

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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.

Crops for those Unfarmable Spaces

Crops for Those “Unfarmable” Spaces

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Whether located in a suburban setting, or a rural one with limited available acreage, small farmers are always facing a perennial problem – not enough room. However, right under a small farmer’s nose, on almost every city lot or nook and cranny of an oddly shaped rural parcel, there’s a home for some fruit or vegetable. Maybe that sliver of ground is only a few square feet, has limited sun, is in a ditch or against a wall or fence, but some certain garden plant or animal would love to call it home.

David Bradley Cornplanter

David Bradley Cornplanter

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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.

Franny and Zoe

Franny and Zoe

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I was having an afternoon nap in our bedroom and enjoying a wonderful dream when I felt someone nibbling my ear and blowing warm moist air on my check. I rolled over, expecting to see Andrea, and almost had a heart attack when I opened my eyes to a little brown creature with a flat snout peering at me. My Daughter Zoe was draping a small pig by the hind legs over me and laughing. “Look what Jack gave me,” she said, as she scooped the piglet back up and cradled the little bundle in her arms. I couldn’t figure out what I had done to Jack to make him pull such a dirty trick on me.

Haying on the Scheckel Farm

Haying on the Scheckel Farm

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Haying season started in early June and just seemed to last all summer in the 1940s and 1950s on the Scheckel farm outside Seneca in the heart of Crawford County. In between first crop and second crop, we cut and shocked oats. After the second crop of hay, threshing was done. After threshing, we often put up a third crop of hay. There was no hay baler on the Scheckel farm. Hay was cut with a No. 9 McCormick-Deering Enclosed Steel Gear Mower with a five-foot sickle and pulled by two horses. Let it cure for a few days, then bring in the siderake to windrow the hay, then the hay loader pulled behind a hay wagon. It was hard, dirty, back breaking work, often in hot and humid weather.

Hickory Nut

Hickory-Nut

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Notwithstanding the high esteem in which the nuts of several species of Hickory have been held since the settlement of America, but little progress has been made in their domestication and improvement. Out of the 9 or 10 species recognized by botanists, not more than 3 or 4 have been found sufficiently promising from an economic standpoint to justify conspicuous effort at amelioration. Of these the Pecan stands easily first, followed in order of apparent value by the Shagbark, the Shellbark and the Pignut.

Identifying with the Work

Identifying with the Work

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Even more of a challenge than the actual work required is not to allow such things to discourage you to the point of inactivity. One way which works for me is to recall strings of best days working, days I want to think define me. So I chainsawed up the broken trees while thinking about turning beautiful soil and watching the birds follow for unearthed treasures. Or I would pull nails and screws to release sheets of tin from the blown rafter assembly while remembering best days mowing hay with the many outstanding teams I have owned.

Jimmy Nardello

Jimmy Nardello

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This pepper came to me through David and is easily one of our favorite varieties on the farm. Before I was a local food eater and farmer, many vegetables were unappealing; celery was bitter, cucumbers were spongy, and peppers were leathery and tart. My dislike of peppers quickly changed into an obsession after growing Jimmy Nardellos.

LittleField Notes I Raised em All the Same

LittleField Notes: I Raised ‘em All the Same

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Ask anyone who has more than one child, and they are sure to tell you that each of their children is unique. You may hear something like, “we raised ’em the same; certainly didn’t treat one any different than the other. So why are they each so different?” So it is also with horses. I have two 2-year-olds born within a week of each other, Frankie and Luna, both sprung from the loins of Donald, yet they couldn’t be more different. I started the two youngsters on the same winter’s morning in the same round corral with the same routine. As of this writing I am working Frankie single, daily feeding cows, hauling hay to the loafing sheds and other odd chores. On the other hand, Luna has yet to calmly pull a single tree dragging a log chain without serious jitters.

Making Horse Hay

Making Horse Hay

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The difference between safe, high quality hay and low quality questionable hay (containing molds and dust) is primarily in the harvesting. The plants in a certain field will make some difference, of course — whether it’s a good stand of alfalfa, palatable grasses or has gone mostly to weeds — but poor harvesting conditions/methods can reduce a good hay crop to poor or even unsafe feed for horses.

Mangrove

Mangrove

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Mangrove is a name applied to species of Rhizophora. The common Mangrove is one of the commonest plants in the swampy shores of tropical and subtropical seas. It is not in cultivation, but its strange methods of propagation make it one of the most interesting of plants.

Maud the Mule

Maud the Mule

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Maud was the name of one of the family mules that Paps held in very high esteem. The incredible feats of Paul Bunyan’s ‘Babe the Blue Ox’ paled in comparison to Pap’s stories about Maud. Maud was obedient. She responded to the quietest “Gee” and “Haw” and “Whoa, Maud.” Maud was a hard worker and would work for hours on end for the simple cost of a little oats or grass, a little kindness, and a good drink of water now and then. The pride Paps had in that mule – long dead by the time I arrived on the scene – rivaled the pride he showed for any grandchild. And Maud had earned that admiration.

McCormick-Deering Horizontal Corn Binder

McCormick-Deering Horizontal Corn Binder

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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.

McCormick-Deering International Number 9 Horse-Drawn Mower Serviceman's Guide

McCormick-Deering No. 9 Horse-Drawn Mower Serviceman’s Guide

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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.

Montana Muleskinner Jack Eden

Montana Muleskinner Jack Eden

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Jack vividly remembers working with his uncle in what is now the Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness in the early 1940s, breaking green colts for local ranchers in the spring and summer, packing hunters into the rugged mountains and then trailing the string of mules and horses from Paradise, Idaho, to winter pastures in Hot Springs, Montana, a three-day trip in late November, along gravel roads where cars were the exception not the rule. In a modern world where men have walked on the moon and even children now crawl the World-Wide Web from desktop computers, Jack has remained true to his early love – working with horses and mules.

Ohio Corn Husking

Ohio Corn Husking

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Some of central Ohio’s finest draft teams and teamsters gathered on the second weekend in October to participate in the Ohio State Hand Corn Husking Contest, held at the Wyandot County Fairgrounds in Upper Sandusky. The fairgrounds and the Koehler-Winter’s farm next to it were humming with activities related to the harvest season and otherwise. Folks made apple butter, soups, and crafts; held a farmer’s market; conducted buggy driving competition; displayed lots of antique equipment and vehicles; demonstrated tractor and horse plowing; and ate and ate and ate.

Ox Horn Knobs and Ox Tips

Ox Horn Knobs & Ox Tips

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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.

Raven Flight Part 1

Raven Flight Part 1: Walking Towards a Beginning

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She was everything we had dreamed of and more: a bit of light at the tip of a small mountaintop. She was old farmland, good farmland; the one lasting piece of cleared land on this one lane road surrounded by wood and state forest. The stone walls were mystifying, the pond perfectly sized, the blueberries just beginning to hold promise of fruit.

Slow Snow

Slow Snow

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The thoughts triggered by the summer consequences of that slow snow has me looking for clear evidence. Did the snow cause this dramatic increase in grass growth beneath trees, in overall fertility? Is this land, this region, this wildife migration zone, showing signs of comfort and appreciation for the weather and water turnaround brought by the deep snows? I see the strength of our pastures, the health and gain of our livestock, and the increase in the bird populations. Evidence everywhere, but you only see it if you are looking for it. And, as farmers, we look for it because it gives us clues for our management choices and preparations. The slow snow helps me to see underneath because my eyes are drawn to the obvious changes.

The Axe-Helve

The Axe-Helve

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It is prodigious, the amount of work required to make a good axe-helve – I mean to make it according to one’s standard. I had times of humorous discouragement and times of high elation when it seemed to me I could not work fast enough. Weeks passed when I did not touch the helve but left it standing quietly in the comer. Once or twice I took it out and walked about with it as a sort of cane, much to the secret amusement, I think, of Harriet. At times Harriet takes a really wicked delight in her superiority.

The Farm Freedom Solution

The Farm Freedom Solution

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Federal and state food safety regulations require such expensive facilities investments that many small-scale producers can’t get their products into grocery stores and restaurants. Farmers must either plug into the industrial distribution system – taking pennies on the dollar of retail sales and giving up control of important management decisions – or take their chances in the alternative venues of direct from farm sales, farmers’ markets or community supported agriculture. Even there, they are often constrained by zoning laws, value-added sales regulations, as well as meat and dairy regulations and prohibitions.

The Farmers Cafe Terra Ortis

The Farmer’s Cafe – Terra Ortus

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For the mass of us, the connection between food and farming is dry, distant, awkward, academic. We do not associate the squeaking sticky wet-sand dig with the flavor, smell and texture of clams because we buy them off the shelf. We do not associate the crystalline departing cold and invasive spring warmth and apiarian ballet amongst bouquets of apple blossoms with the resultant fruit in the supermarket bins. Most of us cannot, no CAN NOT, no WILL NOT, be bothered by the terrible tactile truths of where and how our meats come to us. And many of us haven’t a clue. We are separated, artificially, by contrived modern circumstance, from all that would define us.

The Shepherds Crook

The Shepherd’s Crook

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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.

Time to Farm

Time to Farm

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Do you know where your food comes from? Probably not, at least not all of it. Does it matter to you? For most people the answer is no, it doesn’t matter. But to a rapidly growing number of folks the question of where their food comes from is crucial. Should it be important? Yes, absolutely, it is terribly important. Our health, well-being and connection to life itself are all reinforced by the easily accessible view of who produces our food, our knowledge of how it is grown, and our belief in the farmers who are responsible. Comfort and assurance an extravagant notion? I think not. Quite the opposite; it is extravagant to close your eyes to where your food comes from.

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