Back Issue Vol: 33-1
I was soon planning for a stop in the town of Pontelier, the main hub in one corner of the country I had never been to and was bent on exploring: the Franche-Compte. As luck would have it, this region has its very own breed of draft horse, the Comtois. It was to an “exhibition” of this horse that I was heading, although thanks to my lousy French, I was not sure exactly what kind of “exhibition” I was heading to.
One of the primary goals of natural horsemanship is to get our horses to trust us 100 percent. Great horsemen and horsewomen throughout history have known that in order to become truly and completely accepted as a friend, companion, boss, leader, and/or trainer to any equine we must first gain the animal’s trust. In his book, Colt Training, Jesse Beery, the famous 19th century horse gentler/trainer, author, and founder of the Jesse Beery School of Horsemanship states, “The first lesson we give a colt is simply to teach it to have confidence in us and that we are its best friend and don’t intend to hurt it.”
Making a pair of tongs was a milestone for a lot of blacksmiths. In times gone past a Journeyman Smith meant just that, a smith that went upon a journey to learn more skills before taking a masters test. When the smith appeared at the door of a prospective employer, he/she would be required to demonstrate their skills. A yard stick for this was to make a pair of tongs.
This is the season of the year when many of the farm machines and implements are put away until next spring. All of the machines and implements should be given a thorough cleaning and stored under cover where they will be protected from the rain and snow, which do much to shorten the life and increase the cost of farm machinery. An implement shed and farm shop that will pay big dividends during the life of the farm machinery is shown in the illustration. Here is space for open storage of wagons and other farm equipment, a garage for the car or tractor and a shop where the repairs that the machinery will need before being put in use next spring may be made.
Another consideration for the Trimburs was health and ease of care. Heidi says, “Finnsheep, as a breed, won this one without contest! They are smaller, super-friendly, have no horns to worry about and no tails to dock. They are hardy, thrive on good nutrition and grow a gorgeous fleece. I love to walk out in the pastures with them. They all come running over to say hello and some of our rams love to jump on our golf cart and “go for a ride” – it is hilarious!
Collecting rainwater for use during dry months is an ancient practice that has never lost its value. Today, simple water collection systems made from recycled food barrels can mean a free source of non-potable water for plants, gardens, bird baths, and many other uses. Rainwater is ideal for all plants because it doesn’t contain dissolved minerals or added chemicals. One inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot roof yields approximately 600 gallons of water.
When farrowing time comes the last of February or the first of March in the northern sections of the country, the sows and the young pigs will be better off in a good weather-tight house, such as the one shown above. This is the sort of farrowing house that keeps the young pigs warm and free from cold draughts that quickly end their lives. Besides, it has a system of ventilation that admits fresh air without drafts and prevents condensation that quickly coats the walls with water and frost.
The driller is like an auger type post hole digger powered by one horse walking around the machine. The gear is stationary. The platform and everything on it (including operators) goes around and around with the horse. The auger shaft is clamped to the platform so the auger makes one revolution as the horse makes one revolution. The gears operate a winch. It appears the winch can also be cranked by hand.
Evan came to Les with many lessons already learned. His father, Ronald Ames, had taught him a great deal about working with horses and how to work in the woods. Sixteen-year-old Evan is smart, polite and enthusiastic, and hopes to become a large animal vet. He values highly the lessons that 80-year-old Les is teaching him about how the old masters of different trades performed their tasks: harnessing horses, building logging scoots, designing eveners and neck yokes. Horse logging, haying and dignifying the horse are other skills Evan is learning.
For about the last two years I have been pursuing something I call “no pressure driving.” It is not a new idea, and I know Steve Bowers, as well as others, talked about the same principles. I would like to lay out what it means to me, how I go about it, and what I think the benefits are. Simply put: there is no pressure on the lines that is not intended to be a signal to the working horses or mules. Many of us have been taught (myself included) that a certain amount of constant pressure is needed to successfully drive workhorses. Over the years we sought ways to teach our animals to work with a ‘light’ mouth. It was easier on the arms, it seemed nicer for the horses, and it made driving more accessible to folks who may have been told they weren’t strong enough to drive work horses.
The steady, rainy drizzle on Friday afternoon, September 26th, did not dampen spirits nor participation, as Animal-Power devotees from across the Northeast came to the 2008 Northeast Animal-Power Field Days in Tunbridge, Vermont, to gather around teams, to ask questions, and to watch and learn. Although it did not rain on Saturday and Sunday at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, Hurricane Kyle and flood warnings throughout the Northeast created significant challenges for folks thinking about making the trip. This may have dampened the attendance levels, but certainly not the spirits of those who did come out. The workshops covered a huge variety of topics and were led by people with expertise in sustainable farming practices, renewable energy, working with draft animals, and issues around food policy.
A few yesterdays ago we were set in a vulgar gaseous economy of absurd excess and biological disconnect, but it was OUR pattern. Want it or not, each of us owned some aspect. Maybe it was far distant and three times removed but it was there nonetheless. Now, as so many pieces, large and small, of our soured society and economy shrink and slough off, we are perhaps to be excused our apprehension and fear. We have been dependent on a vast, irresponsible ‘supply’ system and the presumption of unending growth. Now, where will we get this or that mechanical part? Or a gallon of milk? Or our heating oil? Or our prescriptions filled? Think I’m going too far with this? Think the system is “fundamentally” sound? Think that it will never breakdown that far? It already has.
Arriving at the woodlot, he parks the cart in the sun so its on-board panel above can soak up even more energy than is already stored in its 10 KW hour battery pack which supplies a 2,500 watt, 120 volt inverter. He easily lifts his six-pound electric chainsaw and connects it to a 150 foot extension cord plugged in to the cart. The cord trails behind him as he walks into the woods and up a rise. He pushes a switch with his thumb and the chainsaw roars, or more accurately, purrs to life. Within a minute the tree gives way, falling neatly.
Children are famous for asking questions and many of them can’t be answered simply or some not at all. As we grow older, we still have questions, only we have the tools to find the answer to most. Still, there are questions that never come up. Some questions are foolish, some are nonsense, and some just never are thought of until the answer is sitting right in front of you.