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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

Propagation by Means of Budding and Grafting

Propagation by Means of Budding and Grafting Part 1

by:
from issue:

There are three general divisions or kinds of graftage, between which, however, there are no decisive lines of separation: 1. Bud-grafting, or budding, in which a single bud is inserted under the bark on the surface of the wood of the stock. 2. Cion-grafting, or grafting proper, in which a detached twig, bearing one or more buds, is inserted into or on the stock. 3. Inarching, or grafting by approach, in which the cion remains attached to the parent plant until union takes place.

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.

Asparagus in Holland

Asparagus in Holland

by:
from issue:

The asparagus culture in Holland is for the majority white asparagus, grown in ridges. This piece of land used to be the headland of the field. The soil was therefore compact, and a big tractor came with a spader, loosening the soil. After that I used the horse for the lighter harrowing and scuffle work to prevent soil compaction. This land lies high for Dutch standards and has a low ground water level, that is why asparagus can grow there, which can root 3 foot deep over the years.

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.

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

Cultivating Questions: Alternative Tillage & Inter-Seeding Techniques

Our intention is not to advocate the oddball living mulches we use with this single row inter-seeding system, but just to show how it is possible to utilize the between-row areas to improve insect habitat, reduce erosion, conserve moisture, fix some nitrogen, and grow a good bit of extra organic matter. If nothing else, experimenting with these alternative practices continues to keep farming exciting as we begin our twentieth season of bio-extensive market gardening.

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.

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.

Syrup From Oregons Big-Leaf Maple

Syrup From Oregon’s Big Leaf Maple

by:
from issue:

There is a great potential in establishment of a seasonal “sugarbush” industry for small farmers of the northwestern states, particularly western Oregon and Washington. Five syrup producing species of maples are found mainly east of the Rocky Mountains. The Box Elder and the Big-leaf Maple are the only syrup producing maples of the Pacific Northwest. Properly made syrup from these two western maples is indistinguishable from the syrup of maples of the midwestern and northeastern states.

Of Peace and Quiet

LittleField Notes: Of Peace and Quiet

by:
from issue:

Walk with me for a moment to the edge of the Waterfall Field. We can lean on the gate and let our gaze soak up the mid-summer scene: a perfect blue sky and not a breath of wind. Movement catches your eye, and in the distance you see a threesome hard at work in the hayfield. Two Suffolk horses, heads bobbing, making good time followed by a man comfortably seated on a mowing machine. The waist high grass and clover falls steadily in neat swaths behind the mower. What you can’t help but notice is the quiet.

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.

Making Sorghum Molasses

Making Sorghum Molasses

by:
from issue:

Growing sorghum doesn’t take much work, according to Buhrman. You plant it in the spring, work it a couple of times and that’s about all that’s required until late in the growing season. That is when the work begins. Before it is cut, all the stalks have to be “bladed” – the leaves removed from the stalks. It’s then cut, then the tassles are cut off, and the stalks are fed through a crusher. The crusher forces the juices out of the plant. The sorghum juice is then boiled in a vat for four to five hours until nothing is left but the syrup.

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

by:
from issue:

After three or four years we could see that the nature of our farming practices would continue to have detrimental effects on our soils. We were looking for a new approach, a routine that would be sustainable, rather than a rescue treatment for an ongoing problem. We decided to convert our fields to permanent planting beds with grassy strips in between where all tractor, foot and irrigation pipe traffic would be concentrated.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Apple Cider, Autumn’s Nectar

by:
from issue:

While autumn’s beauty is food for our souls, autumn’s harvest provides food for our tables. Along with the many hours and days of canning and freezing our garden produce, harvest time also means apple cider making for our family. We have been making apple cider, or sweet cider as it is commonly called, for six years. Beginning slowly, the demand for our juice has resulted in a production of over six hundred gallons this year.

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.

Seed Quality from Two Perspectives

Seed Quality from Two Perspectives

by:
from issue:

We are approaching this from a seed quality standpoint, not just a seed saving one. Saving seed is fairly simple to do, but the results from planting those seeds can be very mixed; without a basis of understanding of seed quality, people can be disappointed and confused as to why they got the results they did. Both the home gardener and the seed company must understand seed quality to be successful in their respective endeavors.

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