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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

I Built My Own Buckrake
I Built My Own Buckrake

Buck on the left and Atlas on the right pushing a big one just for show.

I Built My Own Buckrake

by Ken Gies of Fort Plain, NY

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.

My buckrake is built for Haflingers. The basket is 10 feet wide and 8 feet deep. The full width is 14 feet with horses in place and it is 16 feet long. I probably could have made a full-sized rake, but my ponies are smallish and I didn’t know what they could really do. After all, it takes all three of them to pull my 5-foot McCormick #9 mower! I had two 18 inch, steel wheels that fit a 2 inch pipe nicely so they became the foundation of the rake. The caster wheel came off an old pickup header from a self-propelled forage harvester. The wood is dimensional lumber.

I Built My Own Buckrake

Starting a load.

 

The rake teeth are made out of 2″x6″x8′ lumber. The poles and crossbar are 10 and 14 foot 4″x4″ posts. The pieces are bolted together with 3/8″ carriage bolts and flat washers. I used Schedule 40 pipe for the axle and the trailing frame. If you remember back a few years, I wrote an article called “One Horse Haying.” In it I described a one-horse buckrake built on a mobile home axle. I believe that it would work for a side hitch or a push style rake too. If you use a mobile home axle there will be a couple of extra wide spaces between the teeth to fit the tires.

I Built My Own Buckrake

Ready to drop load.

 

I built the basket first. The teeth are tapered 2×6’s. Cut a 1.5 inch wide wedge off the side of the board fading from the tip to the five foot mark. Do that on both sides of the tooth. Then cut a ski shape on the tip so that the tooth won’t dig into the ground when loading. I laid the axle and the teeth out so I could space around the wheels. The remaining teeth are 12 inches apart on center. It is best to mount the basket hanging beneath the axle. This will be important if your wheels are 24 or 30 inches tall. Lowering the rear mounting point reduces the angle of the teeth and lets the hay slide on better. The crossbar extends to the outside teeth to compensate for the “short” axle if a mobile home axle is used. The rear crossbar/pullbar extends 2 feet past each side of the basket. The single trees attach to the ends with short chains. They are wrapped around the 4″x4″, then cinched tight with 1/2″ ready rod.

I Built My Own Buckrake

Unloaded and ready to go.

 

I drilled and bolted the basket to the axle and added the poles. I decided to make them straight, not angled outward like most of the pictures I had seen. The back end of the pole bolts under the rear crossbar and over the axle to give the needed upward slant. They are 10 feet long and have a bent pipe bolted on for a pullback point on the tip. I used short chain and long pole straps with an extension to lower the breast strap for backing. I added a 5 foot angle brace from the rear crossbar to the pole to stiffen the pole side to side.

I Built My Own Buckrake

View from behind.

 

The trailing frame and lift took the most time. I think that I could have used the basket alone and let the teeth ride on the ground. That would have made the buckrake simpler. I have run it with the teeth down several times. It drags more when loaded, but the ponies manage fine. However, I built a triangular frame that is 7 feet long and 3 feet wide at the base. It pivots in two pipe tees bolted to the rear crossbar. As an alternative, I could have used 1″x1/4″ flat steel bent around the frame and bolted in place. I mounted the caster wheel and seat stem, then built a lift lever that locks over-center. I may tinker more and try converting it to a push style rake later. The lift is connected to a pipe tripod bolted to the crossbar and backboard. I added side chains to the lift because the basket flexed too much when loaded. I would recommend using a 6″x6″ especially if you opt for a wider rake. The chain is 1/4″ inch.

I Built My Own Buckrake

Tapered 8′ tooth

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Tooth with ski shaped end.

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Another view of the lift pylon and trailing frame attachment.

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Wheel fitted between teeth and side wear plate.

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Over center lock in up position.

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Over center lift-lock in down position.

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Attachment method of trailing frame and basket lift point.

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Caster wheel and seat post.

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Single tree chain and pole attachment.

 

If I build another buckrake, I will change several things. The teeth will be 7 feet not 8. There won’t be a trailing frame. I will use a sliding seat or platform instead. The rear crossbar will be a 6″x6″. I will angle the poles and eliminate the pipe pullbacks. These changes could cut the build time in half. The rake will fit in the tight spaces by my haymow and be lighter weight. I encourage you to improvise.

If you want to see some vintage footage featuring a buckrake, visit www.archive.org/details/buckrake. This links to Vermont’s historical film preservation site.

Good online plans are free at http://ejackson.net/FarmPlans/NorthDakota/plans/nd334-3-1.pdf.

YouTube has some good clips too. Google buckrake.

Just don’t get trapped by the computer — there’s hay to make!

I Built My Own Buckrake

 

I Built My Own Buckrake

Spotlight On: Crops & Soil

Rice as a New Staple Crop for Very Cold Climates

Rice as a New Staple Crop for Very Cold Climates

by: ,
from issue:

If you were visiting Earth from some other planet and had to describe its inhabitants upon your return, you might say that the average person eats rice, and grows it as well, usually on a small scale. You’d be accurately describing the habits of over a quarter of the world’s population. Rice has a special story with an exciting chapter now unfolding in the northeast USA among a small but growing group of farmers and growers.

Marketable Cover Crops

Marketable Cover Crops

by:
from issue:

Our cover crops have to provide the benefits of smothering weeds, improving soil structure, and replenishing organic matter. They also have to produce some income. For these purposes, we use turnips, mustard and lettuce within our plant successions. I broadcast these seeds thickly on areas where cover crops are necessary and let them do their work.

Ginseng Culture

Ginseng Culture

U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmer’s Bulletin No. 1184 Issued 1921, Revised 1941 — The evident preference of the Chinese for the wild root and the unsatisfactory state of the general market for cultivated ginseng have caused grave doubts as to the future prospects of the industry. These doubts will probably be realized unless growers should strive for quality of product and not for quantity of production, as has been the all too common practice in the past.

Cultivating Questions

Cultivating Questions: Follow-Up On Phosphorus

We like to think that the bio-extensive approach to market gardening minimizes the risk of overloading the soil with nutrients because the fallow lands make it possible to grow lots of cover crops to maintain soil structure and organic matter rather than relying on large quantities of manure and compost. However, we are now seeing the consequences of ignoring our own farm philosophy when we resorted to off-farm inputs to correct a phosphate deficiency.

Open-Pollinated Corn at Spruce Run Farm

Open-Pollinated Corn at Spruce Run Farm

by:
from issue:

The old way of selecting seed from open-pollinated corn involved selecting the best ears from the poorest ground. I have tried to select perfect ears based on the open-pollinated seed corn standards of the past. I learned these standards from old agricultural texts. The chosen ears of Reid’s average from 9 to 10.5 inches long and have smooth, well-formed grains in straight rows. I try to select ears with grains that extend to the end of the cob.

An Introduction Into Plant Polyculture

An excerpt from What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden
Companion Planting for Beginners

How to Grow an Acre of Potatoes

How to Grow an Acre of Potatoes

by:
from issue:

Heretofore potato production in this country has been conducted along extensive rather than intensive lines. In other words, we have been satisfied to plant twice as many acres as should have been necessary to produce a sufficient quantity of potatoes for our food requirements. Present economic conditions compel the grower to consider more seriously the desirability of reducing the cost of production by increasing the yield per acre.

Beautiful Grasses

What follow are a series of magnificent hundred-year old botanist’s watercolors depicting several useful grass varieties. Artworks such as this are found on the pages of Small Farmer’s Journal quite regularly and may be part of the reason that the small farm world considers this unusual magazine to be one of the world’s periodical gold standards.

Cultivating Questions

Cultivating Questions: Concerning the Bioextensive Market Garden

One of our goals when we first started farming here was to develop the farm as a self-contained nutrient system. Unlike the almost complete recycling of nutrients which can take place on a livestock operation, we are always amazed – even a little disturbed – to see how many tons of fertility and organic matter leave the market garden each year with so little returned to the good earth.

Onion Culture

Onion Culture

The essential requirements of a soil upon which to grow onions profitably are a high state of fertility, good mechanical condition, properties – that is, if it contains sufficient sand and humus to be easily worked, is retentive of moisture and fertilizers, and is capable of drainage – all other requirements can be met.

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

by:
from issue:

Any claim about winter production of fresh vegetables, with minimal or no heating or heat storage systems, seems highly improbable. The weather is too cold and the days are too short. Low winter temperatures, however, are not an insurmountable barrier. Nor is winter day-length the barrier it may appear to be. In fact most of the continental US has far more winter sunshine than parts of the world where, due to milder temperatures, fresh winter vegetable production has a long tradition.

Planting Calendar and Other Diagrams

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

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

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.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Walki Biodegradable Mulching Paper

New Biodegradable Mulching Paper

Views of any and all modern farming stir questions for me. The most common wonder for me has been ‘how come we haven’t come up with a something to replace plastic?’ It’s used for cold frames, hotbeds, greenhouses, silage and haylage bagging and it is used for mulch. That’s why when I read of this new Swedish innovation in specialized paper mulching I got the itch to scratch and learn more. What follows is what we know. We’d like to know more. LRM

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.

Beating the Beetles – War & Peace in a Houston Garden

Blooming that is, unless the cucumber beetles arrive first.
And arrive they have … “At first I thought they looked like big, yellow lady bugs.” Paul said, “Then I looked…

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