Back Issue Vol: 34-3
A well thought out, functional barn should be the center piece of any farming endeavor, horse powered or fossil fueled, that involves livestock. After building and using two previous barns during our lifetimes, I think the one we now have has achieved a level of convenience, efficiency, and economy that is worth passing on.
The problem resulting from wolf teeth are due to the bit hammering on them or bouncing over them and banging into the much larger premolar teeth behind. This causes varying degrees of aggravation and pain to the animal. The problems that result range from minor irritation (often unapparent due to the wonderful and tolerant nature of many horses and mules) to dangerous reactions and behavior.
The amount of manure produced must be considered in planning a cropping system for a farm. If one wishes to manure one-fifth of the land every year with 10 tons per acre, there would have to be provided two tons per year for each acre of the farm. This would require about one cow or horse, or equivalent, for each six acres of land.
My aging stock dog and I were bickering like an old married couple. It was raining lightly on a cold and blustery day. I hurried across the yard looking for a staple gun in a tool shed. Out of habit, I called my Border Collie/ Aussie cross dog to follow me. Halfway across the yard, I realized she wasn’t tagging along. Turning, I gestured for her to come with me. She’s trained in voice commands as well as hand signals. However, her body language indicated she wasn’t sure I “really” wanted her.
Our winter workshops seem to generate a lot of interest in bioextensive market gardening among young growers. However, we sense an undercurrent of frustration because many of the participants do not have access to enough land to fallow half of the market garden. We hope that the following list of speculative suggestions will provide some encouragement to new vegetable farmers who cannot afford to take land out of production but want to take advantage of the bioextensive principles of rotational cover cropping, minimum-depth tillage, and bare fallowing.
The battle against flies is constant, but there are ways to reduce these costly and irritating pests — without toxic chemicals. There are several types of pest flies, with different habits and behavior, so a combination of tactics is usually most effective when trying to eliminate or reduce flies. House flies and stable flies (the latter are aggressive biters, tormenting horses and cattle) breed in manure and rotting organic matter such as old hay and bedding. Horse flies and deer flies breed in swampy areas and black flies breed in flowing water.
After plowing and then spreading the fields with compost, the next step in our method of primary tillage is to roll out the disc-harrows. The disc harrows have traditionally followed the plow because they do an excellent job of breaking up any clods and of further turning and incorporating any surface trash that might not have been fully turned by the moldboard. The weight of the disc also has a leveling effect on the soil in preparation for seeding.
One can readily learn to recognize many of the grasses, both cultivated and wild. It is not necessary to have any elaborate instruments for examining them or to acquire any detailed knowledge of their structure. Nearly every grass is so distinctive that once a person has noted its obvious characteristics he will easily recognize it again. Though there are probably 6,000 distinct species of grasses in the world, only about 60 are important cultivated plants, and not more than 20 wild species are abundant or valuable in any one locality.
It is said that when the ships of the Old World first approached the New World, they were sometimes invisible to the indigenous people of the Americas because the latter could not imagine such a thing as a fleet of large sailing ships, and simply did not believe their eyes. In the same way, when a large enough change looms in our future, we tend to dismiss calls to pay attention as the talk of eccentrics or screwballs. If the magnitude of the change is beyond our historical experience, we simply cannot imagine it. The end of the industrial era as we know it is one such change. This essay is an attempt at persuasion – that the ships of change really are on the horizon.
When starting a new side rake, turn the reel by hand to be sure it revolves freely and the teeth do not strike the stripper bars. Then throw the rake in gear and turn the wheel by hand to see that the tooth bars and gears run free. Breakage of parts, which causes serious delay and additional expense, can be avoided by taking these precautions before entering the field.
The John Deere-Syracuse No. 210 Sulky Plow is acknowledged to be the lightest-draft plow of its type. It does an extra good job of plowing in any kind of soil and under all conditions. It runs level and plows at uniform depth, always — even when turning square corners. It’s the all-wheel-carried plow that has established its superiority wherever the use of this type of plow is practical. The advantages of the No. 210 over the ordinary sulky are many. The special design of rolling landside, and the fact that the plow can be used with either the Syracuse or John Deere clean-shedding bottoms are features responsible for the extremely light-draft and good working qualities of the No. 210 in a variety of conditions.
Every beginning horse farmer at some point will find himself in need of procuring that first team. After land, this is certainly one of the most critical purchasing decisions you will make in the development of the farm. The animals you choose can make your farming glow and hum with moments of blissful certainty, or contribute to frustration, bewilderment, loss of resolve, and God forbid, horses and people hurt and machines wrecked.
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.
Imagine – a beautiful fall day in the Northeast. The air is crisp, the foliage shining red and yellow and orange under a clear sky. Now imagine yourself surrounded by a phantasmagoria of color and texture, a dizzying array of handmade things combining beauty and utility in remarkably unique ways. Add some delicious food to this picture, and throw in a diverse crowd of enthusiastic folks. Mix all of this together, and you have set the scene for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival.
The Peach is a showy tree when in bloom. There are double-flowered varieties, which are as handsome as the dwarf flowering almond, and they are more showy because of the greater size of the tree. The flowers of the Peach are naturally variable in both size and color. Peach-growers are aware that there are small-flowered and large-flowered varieties. The character of the flower is as characteristic of the variety as size or color of fruit is.
As Dennis and Sue Mengeling stand on the crest of their 130 acre farm, the land slopes down in all directions. As they look toward the north the Wisconsin River flows to the southwest. To the south is Voss Road and to the west County Road V and in the distance you can again glimpse the Wisconsin River. They look to the west and hope for rain in the next few days. This evening they will walk the perimeter of the farm, checking on fence and the cattle as they do several times a week. The farm was named because rainbows can be seen frequently on the knoll of the farm following a rain shower.
Although the history of this interesting building dates back to 1823, I have chosen to write about what I have gleaned from conversations with three living generations of the Bisbee/Brisbois families, now closely involved with the museum. Hearing from each of them brings this museum into focus as an important part of the agricultural/industrial history of Chesterfield, Massachusetts. Their stories connect, their memories offer clarity and humor, their hopes inspire. The Time Line, so carefully researched by Kathie Brisbois, establishes an unbroken thread spanning nearly 200 years.
We learned right away the first thing we needed to do was slow down. Chuck is methodical. He talks slowly. He started by teaching us how to adjust and fix our harness. He drilled us on these basics along with ground driving repeatedly. I was itching to get out and do some “real driving,” but that wasn’t going to happen until we were really comfortable, almost bored with these fundamentals. We learned that every detail is important. Through repetition and guidance we began to physically memorize the feel of the correct tension in the lines, the order of putting on the harness, the habit of safety-checking the harness, of attending to the mood of the horses… Learning these things thoroughly up front helped build up a foundation that became imprinted in our muscles and our minds so that as we progressed these skills became second nature.
There are melodies so evocative they would melt any attached words. There are images so powerful they might negate explanation. There are working rhythms which fly well beyond the vocational titles we give them. Those powerful melodies, images and vocations; all of them deep and rooted now in the human pysche. None of this has to do with good or bad, it is just so. And that has been for most of mankind’s modern days, these last five centuries. But then the shallow insistence snuck up on us and we have fallen down or are falling to our lesser selves.