Back Issue Vol: 31-3
There were two irrigated fields, adjacent to one another, and totally 25 to 30 acres. With only a couple of minor mechanical adjustments we mowed pretty much uninterrupted (except for water breaks and photo ops) and finished the job in under 3 hours. (For those of you who are interested in the applied math: These outfits can cover 9 to 10 acres each in one day. Using 9 as an average that means these 5 mowers can drop 135 acres of hay in three days.) Mike told me that when the hay was ready Nick would spend a six hour day with forecart and rake just ahead of the baler.
The breeching (also brichen) is a component of the hold back system. It permits a horse or team to slow down, hold back, stop, or back up the load when they are hitched in shafts or to a tongue. It’s critical that the breeching be adjusted at the proper height and angle for safety, proper function, and comfort of the horse.
This old information is all about using larger teams and saving on the human labor factor. These ideas kept on growing and by the 1940’s Wayne Dinsmore and the original Horse and Mule Association of America produced detailed pamphlets and lots of propaganda trying to sell the idea of big hitches of from 6 to 30 head for large scale field work. The basic premise of larger units to save labor jumped the creek after WWII and was used to justify getting rid of those same draft animals and replacing them with tractors.
Cornfields in the 1880s were laid out much differently than those seen today. To recreate a cornfield during the time period it is laid out in check rows. The field is prepared and then marked using a marking sled. Afterwards, the farmer moves across the field perpendicular to his markings with an original corn planter. A knotted wire is stretched across the field which when tripped causes a kernel of corn to fall into place in the dirt. Rather than being planted in long straight rows, the field is actually laid out more like a checkerboard. The idea behind this is that the field could then be cultivated in all directions, including diagonally.
The first balers were so large and clumsy, no one ever thought you could pull them with horses. So the church never put a ban on balers. Then the small pick-up balers came in and the farmers pulled them with their horses. The Amish have adopted just about everything that will pull with horses. It’s hard to say why one settlement made certain restrictions and others didn’t, why some have worked and others haven’t. I guess you’d just have to say it’s the will of the people.
Sheep naturally inhabit areas that are high and dry. The animals, however, will thrive on any land except that which is wet and swampy. The fine-wool breeds of sheep especially exhibit a preference for the lands that are drier, whereas there are one or two of the British breeds that are particularly adapted to the lowlands. The industry of raising sheep has been carried on with success in areas that have tropical temperatures with low rainfalls, but rearing the animals in regions of high temperatures and high rainfall has not been generally successful.
All the good implements were on hand with a few new surprises. There was a bale accumulator, all gravity – which gathered 10 bales to one spot. And I & J showed a cover crop roller especially designed to flatten and crush thick cereal rye before no-till corn planting. This tool had resulted from research done at the Rodale Institute. Pioneer, White Horse Machine, Shipse Farm Supply, Gateway, Hogback produce and all the other manufacturers put on an excellent field display.
Parker raised cattle, horses, and pasture while producing milk in the simplest of circular farming worlds. He came to this with deliberation, understanding that what he wanted was a sustainable regenerative comfort in and with the working world of his choice. For him profit in any traditional sense was after-the-fact, almost as if a waste product. His life and its successes were all about the ‘top line’. And that paradoxically gave him greater profitability and viability. It wasn’t about how much his gross income was, it was about how much he kept and how well the work kept him.
The right-hand wheel is the driver, and is held in place by means of a large spring cotter, while the left-hand wheel is held by the two collars, one on each side of the wheel. See that the wheels are in line with the runners. For a team of average size, tongue casting should be in the center adjustment, raising or lowering according to the size of the team so that the front runs level.
Hundreds of new chemicals are released every year in the U.S., most of them with little testing. Furthermore, some chemicals that do get tested are tested by the company that manufactures them, in biased and unscientific conditions. Researchers on the subject of CCD are still combing through lists of newly released chemicals pertaining to agriculture, attempting to find ones that are used in countries that have CCD, but are banned in Canada, Mexico, France, and Italy. This type of research is more difficult than it might sound, because there is no one comprehensive list of all these chemicals.
After a hiatus of more than a decade, the Oregon Draft Horse community has a full-fledged Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Competition once again. Organization president Duane Van Dyke was quite excited about the conversion back to competition from the long standing ‘demonstration’ play days that have been held over recent years. This year’s May event featured a whole lot of animals and a great crowd of participants and spectators all enjoying the emerald green beauty of Champoeg State Park.
PFERDESTARK is the European version of the U.S. Horse Progress Days. Nowhere else in Europe can be found more modern horse drawn machinery and equipment than at Detmold, the shop window of draught horses at work on the field and in the forest. Working demonstrations and international competitions in ploughing, logging and driving are part of this two day event, as well as an international draught horse show.
Horse logging is smart physics. The horses actually pull an “arch,” a rubber-tired sulky-like contraption that is rigged to actually lift the forward end of each log slightly off the ground. The teamsters, looking for all the world like Roman charioteers, stand high on the arch, leaning back against the seat for stability, bouncing through the forest. When the horses get it under way, the log rides on its rear end, front end raised, lessening the drag and damage to the ground.
A program for the control of wind and water erosion has been set up in every part of the United States. Large scale erosion control demonstration projects are being established. Hundreds of engineers and agriculturists have been hired to supervise this work. CCC boys are doing much of the physical work in remodeling farms and watersheds, building terraces and dams, and planting trees for shelter-belt protection as a means of controlling wind and water erosion.
Any watermelon grower can grow their own seed with very little trouble, as a small number of choice melons will furnish enough seed for planting his crop; in fact, four or five average melons will yield a pound of seed. The proper method of selecting the seed melons is to go through the field prior to the first picking and mark a number of melons having the desired type, color, and general characteristics. In making the selection, vigor and freedom of the vine from disease should be taken into consideration. One of the best methods of marking them is to tie pieces of white cloth to the stems of the melons. The marked melons should be allowed to remain on the vines until fully ripe, then carried to a safe place, and after 2 or 3 days of additional ripening should be opened and the seed separated from the pulp.
Often good stands of red clover are injured in the fall by close grazing or late cutting. Such treatment nearly always results in a thin stand or a complete killing by the next spring. It is desirable that the clover should make from 4 to 6 inches of growth before the time that severe freezing weather begins, and that this growth should not take place late in the season. Under conditions favorable for growth, blooming may occur in the fall of the seeding year. To insure strong growth during the second year, this blossoming should be prevented by grazing or high clipping.
On the delivery route, I always carry a pocket full of dog biscuits. It didn’t take long for all the dogs on the route to look forward to my deliveries. They obediently sit and wait for their treats. One hound, Sam, follows our truck to three houses side by side, pretending he’s three different dogs just to get multiple treats.