Back Issue Vol: 25-4
Parents. The very word is enough to evoke memories that can strike terror, nostalgia, tears and smiles. Being a plural noun, it is assumed that more than one person is responsible for these memories. Yes, it takes two people to be parents, and in my case, no two finer people are to be had. Oh, we had the regular spats and disagreements, but in these two people I have found the definition of devotion, the meaning of work, the absolute and complete knowledge that life is about responsibility and commitment. In short, from my parents I found out why farming is a way of life, not just another job.
Irricanna (Alberta) Pioneer Historical Park preserves a period in history of the early prairie settlers of Western Canada. From tours of the big two story farm home to antique cars, trucks, farm machinery to the working carpenter shop, boiler room, and blacksmith shop there is lots to see. In 1999 this park celebrated its thirtieth anniversary by driving a thirty horse hitch, three consecutive days in August. There were twelve Belgians and eighteen Percherons driven by three drivers pulling five grain tanks.
Whether a farmer can afford a forge and anvil will depend upon the distance to a blacksmith shop, the amount of forging and other smithing work he needs to have done, and his ability as a mechanic. Although not every farmer can profitably own blacksmithing equipment, many farmers can. If a farmer cannot, he should remember that a great variety of repairs can be made with the use of only a few simple cold-metal working tools.
One of the main advantages of having a forge in the farm shop is to be able to redress and make and temper tools like cold chisels, punches, screw drivers, picks, and wrecking bars. Tool steel for making cold chisels and punches and similar tools may be bought from a blacksmith or ordered through a hardware store; or it may be secured from parts of old machines, such as hay-rake teeth, pitchfork tines, and axles and drive shafts from old automobiles.
Various methods are used to drop the kernels of corn into the soil, but the specially designed corn planters are used most for this purpose. Such planters are: the hand, the one-row, the two-row drill, and the two- and four-row check-row.
An old saying states, “Patience is a virtue.” In a society where “instant-everything” is the order of the day, this saying is not practiced by many. Some of those who must still practice patience are owners of pregnant broodmares. With a gestation length of 335-340 days, they just have to wait until the appointed time. You may ask, “Is there anything that can be done to reduce the length of a mare’s pregnancy?”
Saturday night I had just come in from playing basketball, and I was sitting on the porch eating watermelon. I was covered in sweat and watermelon juice and was planning on taking a shower as soon as I finished. Joy came out on the porch to tell me that I had a phone call. I said hello and heard, “Hello, Dr. Tharakan here. Just you get ready for a long trip. There is one elephant out of control near Kotayam. So, you just get ready and be at your guest house gate.” Click.
Foals are more likely to get a respiratory disease in their first six months than any other disease. They are more prone to respiratory diseases than adults. In one study, about one-quarter (22.2 percent) of all foals had a respiratory disease. Pneumonia was responsible for most deaths (16 percent) up to six months of age in one study. Foal pneumonia is the major respiratory disease causing economic loss due to death, poor growth and treatment cost. Pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs, is a common disease in foals of all breeds up to six months of age. A complex disease, pneumonia has many predisposing factors.
If you’re reading this you most likely love and admire the workhorse. I do and what I really admire is a man that I met in 1990 on the Wyoming Centennial wagon train, which traveled from Casper, Wyoming to Cody, Wyoming. The Bridger trail was the route and our 30-day excursion was the beginning of a relationship with George Miller, a man that I truly cherish, love and respect. The Billings Gazette, in a recent article about George, quoted me as saying, “He’s the only man I’d ever cook for.”
My great grandfather, William Cooper, owned the family farm just south of Cooperstown during the time when hop production was at its peak in Otsego County. The family was related to the Coopers that settled Cooperstown and of the thirteen siblings raised on the homestead, he took over the farm. He was nearly self-sufficient and marketed a variety of products from his farm, but the profit from his hop yards was so significant that he was known as a hop farmer. His diaries are filled with entries related to his yearly care of the hops.
A livery stable, for the benefit of those who never heard of one, was an establishment which catered to horses. It boarded them, doctored them, and bred them, whenever any of these services were required. It also furnished “rigs” — a horse and buggy or perhaps a team, for anyone who wished to ride, rather than walk, about the town or countryside. It was a popular service for traveling men who came into town on the railway train and wanted to call on customers in cross-road communities.
“Caaaty, come get your feeed. Caty! Caaty!” I rattle the milk pail. At last I spy her on the far side of the field with a sigh of relief. At least she is still in the field this time. With only three strands of barb-less wire to keep her in, she doesn’t hesitate to take off on a jaunt through the woods when the electricity is not pulsating through it.
Forty-four years ago I was employed as a mule packer for the US Forest Service. At this time the Forest Service maintained pack mules for packing supplies and food to fire lookout towers, trail maintenance crews, bridge and trail construction and packing supplies for fire fighting crews. I was stationed at the Fish Lake Remount Station on the Clear Lake cutoff road of the Santiam Highway west of Sisters, Oregon.
Excess. Small scale farming may come down to this. We plant some carrot seed and care for its growth. Harvest time we take some of those carrots for our own use. The best looking of the excess we take to the farmer’s market and sell for money to pay the bills. The not-so-good looking ones, the remaining excess, we divide between those we feed to the livestock and those we put through the juicer. Some of the juice finds its way to our own table and some to a neighbor family that’s having difficulties. As for those carrot-eating pigs, they’re employed making compost, consuming farm produce waste (or excess) and converting it into manure for fertilizer. One will go to the farm table and the extra (the excess) pigs will be cut and wrapped and sold direct to local customers.
The most satisfactory method of sowing any of the small grains is with the grain drill. The largest yields are obtained from fields where the seed have been deposited evenly and in the right amount in a firm, compact soil and covered at a uniform depth. It is practically impossible to secure these conditions when the seed are sown with a broadcast seeder.
The Strawberry is an herbaceous perennial. It naturally propagates itself by means of runners that form chiefly after the blooming season. These runner plants, either transplanted or allowed to remain where they form, will bear the following year. Usually the plants will continue to bear for five or six years, but the first and second crops are generally the best. It is therefore the custom to plow up Strawberry beds after they have borne from one to three crops. The better the land and the more intensive the cultivation, the shorter the rotation. In market-gardening areas and in some of the very best Strawberry regions, the plants are allowed to fruit but once. The plants therefore occupy the land only one year and the crop works into schemes of short rotation cropping.
When Andy Neufarth came to work for us twenty-five years ago, we knew we were getting a good man, but we didn’t know we were getting the moon, too. From that day until he retired, almost everything here on the farm from planting to repairing roofs was done according to the phases of the moon and the signs of the zodiac. Andy offered no sympathy when jobs we’d hurried him into doing at the wrong time – like the fence posts that the frost heaved out of the ground – didn’t work out. “Done it in the wrong sign,” he’d say. “Set ‘em right and they’d’ve stayed down.”
Even Timid Green’s dearest enemies acknowledged that his timidity did not apply to anything but women. He would do anything once, and what’s more, he would do it over again if he thought it was indicated. Then he would say he was afraid to do anything but just what he did, and had to hurry before he got afraid to do that. All of which has a bearing on what follows:
As a young boy, Wes Jackson could be found hoeing rows of vegetables — as a teen-ager he rode the untamed prairies of South Dakota, and in school he played football. Sounds like a typical Kansas farm boy — but Jackson is anything but typical. Tanned from the Kansas sun, Jackson’s broad-shouldered husky frame stands tall, and sports a smile the size of his 370 acres. From appearance one might assume that his comfort level may well be mending a fence, harvesting wheat or breaking a horse — but appearances are often deceiving. Wes Jackson is a scientist — a McArthur ‘genius award’ recipient, and alternative Nobel Prize winner.