Horse Progress Days 2001
by Lynn R. Miller of Singing Horse Ranch
photographs by Kristi Gilman-Miller and Lynn Miller
It was the weekend before the fourth of July and ten thousand people descended on Montgomery, Indiana for the 8th annual Horse Progress Days. There can be no doubt that this revolving event is the premiere international showcase for animal-powered agriculture. The previous two years it was held in the Lancaster area of PA. Before that, two years in Mt. Hope, OH and before that Indiana. The governing committee for the event has wisely chosen to revolve or rotate the location through Amish communities. This change of location helps hold general interest and draw some new people.
I’ve attended three and tend to agree with those critics who say it is pretty much the same equipment each year pulled by new sets of animals in a new setting. The criticism implies that a basic question begs asking: what does this event want to be? Maybe we can approach the question by identifying who attends.
To us it appeared there were three major groups in attendance. The Amish horsefarmers, the non-Amish animal power community, and tourists. I would hazard to say these groups were fairly evenly split. Many of the Amish were quite serious about the technology displays and demonstrations. Many of the ‘English’ (as we are known to our Amish friends) horsefarmers and dreamers were focused on the horses and mules and little bits of the technology. The tourists were simply fascinated by the odd sights.
Although the centerpiece of the event has evolved to be the dramatic field exhibition of large hitches and big new equipment, the press of so many varied interests has guaranteed it is also home to more than can be taken in in two days time. It is a big show from formal to informal meetings, from a vast collection of cottage industry booths, to individuals hawking ideas, to the display of work animal breeds, to clinics and demonstrations both academic and craft oriented.
But something’s missing. Hundreds of people commented that they had wished to see more small equipment and more ‘accessible’ or ‘appropriately scaled’ innovations. An opportunity seems to float in the air, ignored. An opportunity to formalize and structure a fascinating undercurrent at this event. The current of low-tech engineering inquiry and curiosity.
Not to suggest that the big hitches be removed but all those comments overheard, and the obvious draw and excitement of specific implements (i.e. the market garden implements), pointed out that, exciting as it may be there is a limited application and market for the twelve, eight and six horse hitches pulling tractor implements and motorized forecarts. The four abreast hitches, using motorized forecarts with haybines, big rakes and round balers do have a slightly larger using audience (though there remains the sizeable hurdle of 4 and 5 figure price tags on implements). Far and away the majority of the folks in attendance want to and do plow, till, plant, mow, rake, and generally harvest with one, two and possibly three horses. They are not going to change that, and in our opinion they shouldn’t. And these folks are as interested in the implements as they are in the methods for hitching and the little adaptations and modifications that might give them an edge back home.
The excellent trade fair portion of this event might be expanded in a structured sense to encourage the individual farm shop inventor to show off his or her ideas and gizmos. It would be fun to imagine an entire row or building full of just such displays. What would be wrong with offering these people a free booth space? What would happen if the committee selected a trio of judges to review all new ideas and implements and present a simple award. As an example The Horse Progress Engineering Excellence Award for 2002 and The Horse Progress Ingenuity Excellence Award for 2002 would certainly make powerful statements as to encouraging innovation. It might even add to attendance figures.
Regardless of the criticisms or suggestions, please note that this event is a huge undertaking swallowing up the volunteer efforts of hundreds of people and continues to be a commendable, valuable, successful and exciting hub of the animal-power community world wide. To all the people, over all these eight years and into the future, who’ve made Horse Progress a vital reality we smile and say thank you for your important work. A job well done! LRM
Market Garden Implements: Mulcher and Transplanter
I was fortunate to catch these implements in the staging area waiting for demonstration. When they were actually working it was nigh on impossible to get pictures for the crush of the crowd. This remarkable appropriate technology and, for the four or more years it has been on display, has always been a real crowd pleaser. It is sure obvious to many that this points to a positive future.
Built by HOGBACK and distributed by YODER’S PRODUCE, both of these implements retail in the neighborhood of $1,500 ea.
The unit above is set up to combine three functions; the formation of a raised bed, the laying of drip irrigation hose, and the unrolling and tucking in of a plastic mulch. All function are ground drive and the unit is hooked to a coventional forecart. There are manually operated row markers and all the suitable and useful adjustment range. This is a sweet and important tool worthy of careful consideration by any one involved in horsepowered market gardening.
In these photos below we show the water-assisted transplanter. This unit was demonstrated right behind the above mulcher. The drive wheel punches holes in the plastic and soil, the tank delivers water, and two helpers riding in the low back seats set the plants. Simple, appropriate, basic, well engineered, affordable, and essential if you want to speed up an otherwise slow job and cover some acreage.
It is in this line and scale of implements that the most profitable innovations of the near future are sure to come.
One of the brand new innovations presented this years at HP Days is pictured from many angles. This is the Pleasant Valley Implement Cart, a prototype in search of a manufacturer. One or two plow bottoms are quickly and easily attached as is a cultivator. The main cart platform raises and lowers, offering excellent visibility. Many unusual angles, gearings and hookups are employed here. There were lots of curious ‘inventor’ types paying mighty close attention to how this unit was put together.
People at Horse Progress
At HP Days Indiana we Millers personally met a couple thousand folk from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma, California, Oregon, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Ontario, Hawaii, Italy, England, Germany, Camaroon and Tanzania
We snagged a few of them for portraits to show you the diversity present.
Rob Bursato and Jason Rutledge deliver a presentation on horselogging.
Joseph Judd and Heidi Gillespie & Cedar came from Chicago. Joseph said “We would like to farm someday with horses so we came to see the different breeds. Being from the city its such an impressive thing to see horses so large. In Chicago the only people with horses are the police.”
Unknown folks just visiting at the logging demonstration.
The ubiquitous and stalwart Rich Hotovy of Fjord fame (left) visits with LRM.
Four SFJ subscribers and friends from Italia (Italy). From the left Monica and Fabio Alberti, Luigi Faganio, and Moscardo Albano. They brought us a package of their own homemade spaghetti noodles, WOW. They were loading up on information and ideas for their own horsefarming ventures back home.
David Baker of England visited our booth with many beautiful pictures and engaging stories. We hope to have him contributing more in the near future.
The contingent from Tillers International beginning on the left with Darcey of Michigan, Isaiah Fonayzi Chah of Cameroon, Moses Bahati Kisamo of Tanzania and Tillers director Richard Roosenburg of Michigan.
SFJ readers, the Karlheinz Pra family, all the way from Ober-Ramstadt, Germany.
Ammon Weaver’s Treadmill
If there was such a thing Weaver’s all new treadmill design would receive our vote for The Horse Progress Engineering Excellence Award for 2001. This beauty was not showcased with the other implements but rather presented, off to the side, as a curiosity to run one of the two ice cream makers. Our dear friend, Wayne Wengerd of Pioneer Equipment, told me of Mr. Ammon Weaver, saying that he was an engineering genius who had helped Pioneer with some critical design issues.
I met Mr. Weaver and regretfully ran out of time to visit at length but we did discuss the possibility of getting one of his treadmills out west to demonstrate at next year’s SFJ Auction and Swap. These units feature all new components and nifty engineering features that optimize the power transmission. The Haflinger in use in the pictures lumbered along quietly and casually delivering sweet slow power to the ice cream maker. It appeared that a variety of settings were available to increase speed and torque.
McCormick No. 7 Horsepower
I regret we were unable to find the person or people responsible for this jewel of ingenuity, the McCormick Deering No. 7 mower converted into a Horsepower, we’d sure like to give them credit. Again, if we were asked we’d quickly and easily give the responsible party or parties The Horse Progress Ingenuity Excellence Award for 2001.
This unit, as with the treadmill, was relegated to an edge of the event where it was employed to run another ice cream machine. The pictures, hopefully, are self-explanatory. The mower frame is tipped on its side, reinforced and anchored. Two poles are fastened to the top side wheel. As the Haflinger pictured walked, he turned that wheel which in turn powered the pitman shaft to which a power take off shaft, with slip clutch, was attached. Good Show!
Setting Those Tongs
In this excellent set of photos Kristi has captured the demonstration of a man approaching a log and setting up tongs. As he steps his team ahead the evener lifts and the tongs bite.
Parbuckling Logs on to a Wagon
Here Kristi’s camera captures the sequence of the easy lift of the big log on to the waiting wagon. Cables run from the wagon back under the log and over the log and back to the horse. As the horse pulls he ‘parbuckles’ the log up the ramp. Such direct and appropriate demonstrations as these shown on this page should be, and were, the heart and soul of Horse Progress Days. They lead to many small successes all across the countryside for people who at HP Days came to understand techniques that work.