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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: People

Fields Farm

Fields Farm

Located within the city limits of Bend, Oregon, Fields Farm is an organic ten acre market garden operation combining CSA and Farmer’s Market sales.

Richard Douglass, Self-sufficient Farmer

by:
from issue:

I’ve got two teams of Belgians that power all the things on the farm. I don’t have a tractor, I don’t have a truck or anything like that. Everything must be done by them. I have two buggy horses that I use for transportation. I have a one-seater buggy for when I’m going into work or into town by myself and then I have a two-seater one for when I’m with the kids.

The Way it Wasnt

The Way it Wasn’t

by:
from issue:

It often seems to me that a good share of life is determined by our own perspectives. I’ve competed in pulls where the team came in last and I was completely content, if not downright thrilled. I’ve had other times when the team pulled all they could and behaved perfectly, and still disappointed me. It’s just my personal perspective on that particular day that led to my disappointment or pleasure. Let’s face it; a day at a pull, with the good people a pull attracts, and the bond shared with horses is a good day that we should cherish whether you finished first or last.

The Shallow Insistence

…a life of melody, poetry and farming?

Field Weeds and Street Boys

Field Weeds and Street Boys

by:
from issue:

So, our farming system to feed hungry street boys is to have them farm “weeds”. As we have all experienced, weeds are perfectly adapted to their climate, are robust and need no fertilizer nor any of the insecticides to enhance a good crop. Because we are aiming for long term diversified permaculture (this is a Shea native tree area), we needed some very quick marketable crops while we wait for the trees to mature. These field weeds intentionally farmed have a ready market in the big city 5 km north.

Icelandic Sheep

Icelandic Sheep

by:
from issue:

I came to sheep farming from a background in the arts – with a passion for spinning and weaving. When we were able to leave our house in town to buy our small farm, a former dairy operation, I had no idea that the desire to have a couple of fiber animals would turn into full time shepherding. I had discovered Icelandic sheep, and was completely enamored of their beauty, their hardiness and their intelligence.

Cuban Agriculture

Cuban Agriculture

by:
from issue:

In December of 1979, Mary Jo and I spent two weeks traveling in Cuba on a “Farmer’s Tour of Cuba”. The tour was a first of its kind. It was organized in the U.S. by farmers, was made up of U.S. farmers and agriculturally oriented folks, and was sponsored in Cuba by A.N.A.P., the National Association of Independent Farmers. As we learned about farming we also learned how the individuals, farms, and communities we visited fit into the greater social and economic structure of Cuba.

Students on the Lines

Students on the Lines & McD Grain Indicator Plate

from issue:

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.

No Starving Children!

You’d never be able to harvest the broccoli or the hay or milk the cows or make the cheese if it were subject to government process. Not only are our industrial farms too big…

Oxen

Oxen

by:
from issue:

The culture of the ox was rich across New England. On my road alone there were several good ox men for me to learn from, and many more in the surrounding area. Even the men who were too old to still be working cattle, would give of their time telling us stories of when working cattle was economically practical.

The Real Work Karbaumer Farm

The Real Work Karbaumer Farm

by:
from issue:

A bold and opinionated German, Klaus moved to the midwest over 25 years ago from Bavaria and is currently running the only tractor-less farm in Platte County, Missouri operated by draft horses. Karbaumer Farm tries to “live and grow in harmony with Nature and her seasons” and produces over 50 varieties of chemical-free, organic vegetables for the community, providing a CSA or the greater Kansas City area.

NYFC Bootstrap Videos The Golden Yoke

NYFC Bootstrap Videos: The Golden Yoke

I couldn’t have been happier to collaborate with The National Young Farmers Coaltion again when they called up about being involved in their Bootstrap Blog Series. In 2013, all of their bloggers were young and beginning lady dairy farmers, and they invited us on board to consult and collaborate in the production of videos of each farmer contributor to the blog series.

Changing of Seasons

LittleField Notes: Changing of Seasons

by:
from issue:

We are blessed who are active participants in the life of soil and weather, crops and critters, living a life grounded in seasonal change. This talk of human connection to land and season is not just the rambling romantic musing of an agrarian ideologue. It is rather the result of participating in the deeply vital vocation that is farming and knowing its fruits first hand.

A Bad Day in Harmony

A Bad Day in Harmony

by:
from issue:

Gary, hoping that that was the lot, revved up the big yellow machine in eager anticipation but once again I called a halt and disappeared in the direction of the house. When I reappeared at the graveside holding a dead cat by the tail Gary shut the machine down completely, remained totally silent for what seemed like a long time, and then leaned out of the cab and with a look of mock concern on his face said in his dry manner, “Where did you say the wife and kids are?”

Growing Farmers and the Food Movement for 50 Years

Growing Farmers and the Food Movement for 50 Years

by:
from issue:

It all began 50 years ago when faculty and students appealed to UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Dean McHenry, proposing a garden project that would serve as a central gathering spot on the remote, forested campus. As legend has it, Alan Chadwick, a charismatic, somewhat cantankerous master gardener from England, chose a steep, rocky, sun-scorched slope covered with poison oak to prove a point: If students could create a garden there, they could create one anywhere. And create they did.

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 2

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 2

It is always fascinating and at times a little disconcerting to watch how seamlessly the macro-economics of trying to make a living as a farmer in such an out-of-balance society can morph us into shapes we never would have dreamed of when we were getting started. This year we will be putting in a refrigerated walk-in cooler which will allow us to put up more storage-share vegetables.

Harnessing the Future

Harnessing the Future

by:
from issue:

En route to a remote pasture where the Belgian draft horses, Prince and Tom, are grazing, we survey the vast green landscape, a fine mist hovering in distant low lying areas. We are enveloped in a profusion of sweet, earthy balance. Interns and other workers start their chores; one pauses to check his smart phone. Scattered about are many animal-powered rustic implements. This rich and agriculturally diverse, peaceful place is steeped in contrasts: modern and ancient.

Paul Birdsall

Our Friend and Champion Paul Birdsall has Passed On

from issue:

Our dear, gentle friend farmer Paul Birdsall had the countenance of an old Maine lobsterman-wood cutter mixed with a toy maker’s spirit. He had that long true visage of a man at sea, it started ‘neath the cap bill and waved out and away just as far as need be. He had the posture of a man poised to turn and move onto the next thing that needed doing. No hesitations, no wasted steps. He had the patient reach and touch of a true horseman, making useful contact and taking sweet rewards.

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