Back Issue Vol: 31-1
This has been my first year bringing the horses into the vineyard. I wanted to make sure my skill set was on auto pilot, and my horses were ready before taking them into such a high stakes/claustrophobic scenario. The cultivators and a disc are two pieces of equipment that we brought into the fold last year. For this next season I’ve restored or built a roller for breaking down tall covers, a seed drill, a seeder, and a spin spreader.
The choice of what trees to plant, as well as how many and where, will depend on what your objectives and interests are. Broadly speaking, tree plantings may be divided into five categories: forests, orchards, windbreaks, wildlife habitat, and shade. While each type of planting may be different from the rest, there is often a great deal of overlap between them, so one planting may serve several purposes.
For a claustrophobic animal like the horse, being confined to a small box while speeding down the highway at 60 miles per hour is a mighty unnatural experience. Luckily, equines are adaptable animals and are likely to arrive in good condition – if – you make preparations beforehand and take some precautions. Here are some tips to help your horse stay healthy, safe, and comfortable while traveling.
With the rapid expansion in the small farm sectors around the world we are seeing, not only a return to time-honored, pre-chemical, organic production systems and a marriage of those to the most exciting, deeply thought-out, new organics, but also the intense inquiry into new and improved mechanical systems. At the top of most every new farmer’s equipment query list is a desire for the MOST appropriate technology.
Some years ago I rebuilt my John Deere Buckrake. These photos appeared in my Haying with Horses book and several readers have requested that I publish the dimensions of the wooden pieces. I offer those on the next page. I hope that by looking at these photos and referencing the dimensions anyone interested in trying to build a buck rake will have something of a head start.
Although the rope and pulley hitch for multiple hitches is elegant in its simplicity, it has always seemed to me to be a great disadvantage that both leaders and wheelers need to be driven, rather than using buck ropes on the wheelers. Besides having to manipulate four lines in your hands, there are often levers to be moved at the same time. That is quite a handful, and if the horses are occasionally a handful as well, you can’t rely on the hitch to hold back half the horses, as when using eveners for the leaders and buck ropes on the wheelers.
Discipline is a habit which has to be taught, to children as well as to horses. To sit quiet in a school desk is sometimes a challenge for a young child; standing still is the same for a young horse. Discipline is a basic element, but this has to count for everyone. Our way is not by rude manners but by being fair and consistent. This attitude not only helps us while working with the horses, but also in their daily care.
Cara O’Conner heads up the Michigan State University Draft Horse Program. She has been doing this for several years, picking up where Russ Erickson left off. Mentioning Russ, he was the right guy at the right time. He was ready to retire from 30 years of teaching in the Dairy program at MSU, but he could remember how to harness a draft horse from his days of growing up on the family farm. Instead of retiring, Russ moved to the MSU Draft Horse Program when MSU accepted a team of Belgians back in 1999. These Belgians were the first drafts on campus since 1963, when everyone knew that they were no longer needed in our society. What wisdom!
Their farm was small by most standards, but it was large enough for them. And, just as important, it was large enough for us, all of us. Instead of an ever dwindling and weakening landscape of a few thousand monolithic corporate farms, we are better served by millions of small, diverse, independent fertile family farms. And the more farms we have, the greater the opportunity of success for each. The landscape would heal, the countryside would welcome the return of vibrant small farm communities, the economy would strengthen, our capacity to feed people would increase in quantity and health, the immune systems of an ever growing number of people would improve, the governments would move offshore, the moral base would once again rise up from the truths of actual working, and the ranks of the hungry would shrink day by day.
A point of interest for your readers is that the “Donhead Hall” Stud at “Coombe Corner Farm” is the home of the first imported American bred Suffolk stallion in the U.K: “Garrettland’s Golden Eagle,” the sale of which the breeder Sam Yoder of Oakland, Maryland, reported on in a previous issue of the Small Farmer’s Journal.
The easiest time to persuade the mare to adopt the orphan is very soon after she herself has given birth. If her own foal dies at birth or soon after, she is more inclined to accept a substitute baby than she would a few days or weeks later; her maternal instincts are strongest right after birth. A mare that has lost her own foal generally makes the best nurse mare, for you can usually convince her to accept and raise the orphan as her own. Failing that, you can sometimes convince a mare to raise an orphan along with her own baby, but this takes more work, and some diligent monitoring for awhile.
In order to get the best results both as to spreading manure evenly on the ground and to avoid heavy draft, the machine should be loaded at the forward end of the box first, and continue loading toward the rear until the cylinder is reached, being careful not to force the manure against the cylinder. This will allow the cylinder to start easily and the machine will draw much easier when loaded in this manner, the manure being more easily separated.
We were first introduced to livestock guardian dogs (LGD’s) by our friends the Dillon’s. Will and Debbie milk goats in the coastal mountains of South Tillamook County, and we were visiting them to pick out our first Nubian doe in the late 1990’s. We were greeted by Pete, a Great Pyrenees pup, and an older female Pyrenees. Our first impression was astonishment both at the size of the dogs and at the fact that they were so calmly living in the midst of goat herd pandemonium! We have over the years been treated to many stories of Pete and his companion LGD’s and their escapades.
A trip to their grandparent’s or some relative’s farm was once something every child looked forward to. There were baby chicks, ducks, and geese to feed; there were newborn calves, lambs, and perhaps a litter of pigs to care for; cows to milk and a vegetable garden to weed and gather food that went directly to the kitchen. Children learned to appreciate wholesome, fresh food, where it came from, how it was grown, and a respect for farming.
Small Farmer’s Journal had an article about “Painted Mountain Corn” with referrals which I checked out. In just a short time I was talking to the man who was instrumental in developing Painted Mountain Corn. He referred me to Frank Kutka who is an OPC specialist, and puts together a newsletter for OPC growers called Corn Culture [now on Facebook]. I asked quite a few questions, and generally picked Frank’s brain. He made suggestions on different varieties, and where to obtain them.
The other day I offered him another of his favorite summer treats. As the temperature crept into the mid-90s, and the sun beat down on his black absorbent coat, I lifted the hose from the water tank I was filling and turned it his way. Tossing his mane, Ben did what he always does at this invitation: He turned about so that the water soaked both his sides, his eyes narrowing at the deep pleasure of this mid-day cooling. Then he ambled up and matter-of-factly took the hose-end from my hands into his mouth for a long, slobbering drink.
I always enjoy Dr. Hammill’s articles on safety and training for workhorses. His words are invaluable encouragement and protection for beginning farmers and their horses. I generally agreed with everything he said in the “Ten Common Wrecks with Driving Horses” article in the Fall 2006 SFJ. I would like to add a few further thoughts on some of them.
Perhaps the best reason for the popularity of self-feeders, aside from their saving of labor or backache, is that pigs are especially adapted to self-feeding. As a rule, pigs do not overeat when they first use a self-feeder, and for this reason are little troubled with digestive disorders. Self-feeders are a boon to fall pigs, too, for hand-feeding them leaves a long stretch during cold winter nights when their little stomachs crave feed. A self-feeder at such times is an excellent pantry for them.
Becky Zeune keeps about twenty miniature horses, a couple of donkeys, two llamas and an assortment of barnyard poultry on her family’s farm near Danville, Ohio. Becky is not into breeding commercially or showing, she is one of those individuals who find that “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person.”
Versatile in ability, usually small and compact in stature and black in color, with an intelligent head and a willing temperament, the Canadian Horse is a breed that originated in Canada. As of April, 2002, it is Canada’s National Horse. Although its numbers were dangerously low for a time in Canada, it is making a comeback as a pleasure horse.
Some windbreaks have failed because of the wrong selection of trees or because of the very location of the break. The full benefits of other windbreaks have been delayed many years, although a moderate amount of cultivation and fertilization would have made them serviceable much earlier. There is more to windbreak planting than just manual labor, and that is a carefully made plan which must precede the setting out of the trees.
First aid treatment for a serious burn should include ice packs or cold packs, or even cold water from a garden hose – as soon as possible if the burn was caused by excessive heat, to try to reduce the depth of the burn and minimize the tissue damage. Painkillers should be given, and antibiotics will be needed to help prevent infection in the damaged tissues, and head off pneumonia.
We realize that there are also other important factors such as Total Digestible Nutrition and Relative Feed Value to consider, but the most influential for us has been crude protein. We have found that over the years, if we can, as cheaply as possible, bump the protein level of the grain portion of our ration to 16% for the lambs and 12-14% for the ewes, the ewes winter quite well on whatever hay we have managed to grow. The lambs also manage to gain weight and go to market. We are also very careful to feed them free choice cobalt iodized loose salt and a mineral that has been formulated for our region if we find that our hay is of poorer quality.