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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Formulas and Fortitude
Formulas and Fortitude

Mike Atkins at US Plow Championship in Ohio.

Formulas and Fortitude

by Lynn R. Miller of Sisters, OR

Today there is no end to formulas that are supposed to give you a leg up, or at best some sort of guarantee of success, with draft horses. I say be wary. The best intentions, the best preparation, the best animals, the safest routine is NO guarantee of success with the working animals. All of those things are important but none of them replace your becoming a natural and comfortable part of the equation. Formulas cannot replace your personal fortitude or strength of conviction and clarity of purpose. And those things will result in a matched natural comfort with the animals.

In the letters section of this issue Tristan Klesick offers a courageous revelation. He’s given up on working horses because they don’t work for him. That’s a mighty big deal. Now, I’m not saying that I know he’s right, only he can know that. But what he’s offering is a very important insight for some people. He says he’s had good quiet teams of horses which, in every case, and with every advantage just seemed to get more and more flightly or tense around him. He’s saying that work horses, it turns out, are just not for him.

May seem a bit far fetched but it brings to mind all those folks who keep insisting they want a quantitative comparison of horses to tractors. Comparing workhorses to tractors is like comparing writing with a fountain pen to typing into a computer: One pretends to make magic (the tractor) while the other (the workhorse) makes magic of you – but only if you are ready and willing to have it happen.

Was on the phone the other day with my buddy Mike Atkins of Ohio and he was remembering the trip he and his brother made to compete at the Canadian Plowing Championships. (Mike is past U.S. Champion and plows with both Belgians and Belgian mules.) He took his span of mules and they did fantastically well. Mike’s a phenomenal teamster and someone who is justifiably proud of his workmates. Even so, he confessed to me; “Lynn, those mules of mine done me proud. They really surprised me. Every where we went was new to them, everything I asked them to do had some strange part to it, but they never missed a step. They were calm and sure and paying very close attention. If you had offered me a million bucks for them right them I would have turned you down. I was that proud of them.”

Mike may or may not agree with me. Knowing him as I do and having had the opportunity to watch him work his animals (and actually to have plowed with his horses) it’s clear to me that his quiet, sure manner and strong expectation are the defining aspects of how well it all works. Listening to him talk about how well his mules behaved in Canada I had a clear view of them “leaning’” on Mike. They know he would never ask them to do anything they couldn’t handle. They know he will always be there to keep them out of harm’s way. They know he will comfortably put them in the furrow where they belong and keep them there. They know that if they have a question Mike will answer it. Those mules are that good BECAUSE of Mike.

Lots of things go into that. Mike has his ‘routine’ and list of do’s and don’ts just like I do. But those formulas alone DO NOT make good work animals. AND perhaps most important, I firmly believe that good well-broke quiet animals DO NOT make good teamsters. It is the other way around. LRM

Spotlight On: How-To & Plans

Horseshoeing Part 4A

Horseshoeing Part 4A

According to the size of the horse and his hoofs the nails should be driven from five-eighths to an inch and five-eighths high, and as even as possible. As soon as a nail is driven its point should be immediately bent down towards the shoe in order to prevent injuries. The heads of all the nails should then be gone over with a hammer and driven down solidly into the nail-holes, the hoof being meanwhile supported in the left hand.

Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing

Setting Up A Walking Plow

Here is a peek into the pages of Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing, written by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller.

Plans for Hog Houses

Plans for Hog Houses

by: ,
from issue:

Missouri Sunlit Hog House: This is an east and west type of house lighted by windows in the south roof. A single stack ventilation system with distributed inlets provides ventilation. Pen partitions may be of wood or metal. This plan takes the place of the original Missouri sunlit house since many farmers had difficulty in building it.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

Horseshoeing Part 2A

As there are well-formed and badly formed bodies, so there are well-formed and badly formed limbs and hoofs. The form of the hoof depends upon the position of the limb. A straight limb of normal direction possesses, as a rule, a regular hoof, while an oblique or crooked limb is accompanied by an irregular or oblique hoof. Hence, it is necessary, before discussing the various forms of the hoof, to consider briefly the various positions that may be assumed by the limbs.

Eggs & Their Care

Eggs & Their Care

from issue:

Egg quality is the combined elements of an egg which increase the market value to the producer, the keeping qualities to the distributors, and the nutritive and eye-appeal value to the consumer.

Planting Calendar and Other Diagrams

From Dusty Shelves: A 1943 calendar for seeding your vegetable garden.

How To Prune

From Dusty Shelves: Pruning Guide from 1917

Henpecked Compost and U-Mix Potting Soil

We have hesitated to go public with our potting mix, not because the formula is top secret, but because our greenhouse experience is limited in years and scale. Nevertheless, we would like to offer what we have learned in hopes of showing that something as seemingly insignificant as putting together a potting mix can be integrated into a systems approach to farming.

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Besides good, tough iron for the shoe, we need an anvil with a round horn and a small hole at one end, a round-headed turning-hammer, a round sledge, a stamping hammer, a pritchel of good steel, and, if a fullered shoe is to be made, a round fuller. Bodily activity and, above all else, a good eye for measurement are not only desirable, but necessary. A shoe should be made thoughtfully, but yet quickly enough to make the most of the heat.

Moving Bees

Moving Bees

by:
from issue:

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.

Barn Raising

Barn Raising

by:
from issue:

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.

Permanent Corncribs

A short piece on the construction of corncribs.

The Horsedrawn Mower Book

Removing the Wheels from a McCormick Deering No. 9 Mower

How to remove the wheels of a No. 9 McCormick Deering Mower, an excerpt from The Horsedrawn Mower Book.

The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

Cultivating Questions: The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

It took several incarnations to come up with a satisfactory design for the bottom heated greenhouse bench. In the final version we used two 55 gallon drums welded end-to-end for the firebox and a salvaged piece of 12” stainless steel chimney for the horizontal flue. We learned the hard way that a large firebox and flue are necessary to dissipate the intense heat into the surrounding air chamber and to minimize heat stress on these components.

Build Your Own Butter Churn

Build Your Own Butter Churn

by:
from issue:

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.

The Craft of the Wheelwright

The Craft of the Wheelwright

by:
from issue:

In these days of standardization and the extensive use of metal wheels you might think there is little call for the centuries old craft of wheelwrighting, but the many demands on the skills of Gus Kitson in Suffolk, England, show this to be very far from the truth. Despite many years experience of renovating all types of wagons and wheels even Gus can still be surprised by the types of items for which new or restored wooden wheels are required.

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

from issue:

Before starting to plow a field much time can be saved if the field is first staked out in uniform width lands. Methods that leave dead furrows running down the slope should be avoided, as water may collect in them and cause serious erosion. The method of starting at the sides and plowing around and around to finish in the center of the field will, if practiced year after year, create low areas at the dead furrows.

Basil Scarberrys Ground-Drive Forecart

Basil Scarberry’s Ground-Drive Forecart

by:
from issue:

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.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT