Back Issue Vol: 35-2
Your horse Frank seems typical of the many horses that I work with and hear about that have learned to associate humans (and certain things humans do with and to them) with psychological and/or physical discomfort. Whenever a horse is not comfortable with things we do around them or ask them to do on the ground, we need to resolve those issues on the ground, not in harness or under saddle. When things are not going well in harness and we cannot get our horses to maintain or return promptly to a state of comfort, relaxation, willingness, and compliance, I feel it is imperative to go back to basic ground work and build a stronger more complete foundation of trust, respect, and accepting us as their kind, gentle and yet assertive leader.
One of the most striking aspects of this development is the strength and confidence that comes from this communal way of living. While it is impressive to build a barn in a day it seems even more impressive to imagine building four barns or six, and all the rest of the needs of a community. For these young Amish families the vision of a shared agricultural community is strong, and clear.
When touring Tony and Fran McQuail’s horsepowered farm outside of Lucknow, Ontario, we noticed something strikingly different about their horsedrawn mower. Every other knife section was upside-down! Following the example of their Amish neighbors, Tony had converted the sicklebar mower to the SCH EasyCut system manufactured by S.I. Distributing. He explained that the alternating face-up/face-down sections balanced pressure on the knife, preventing it from bending or breaking. More importantly, the heavy duty enclosed guards maintain the critical scissor-like action for smooth, carefree mowing without the need for constant adjustment.
Held the last few years, this October celebration has been a success because of a precise and combined effort of family and friends: Gary Moyer; Kathy Moyer, his wife; their sons, Matt, Gary, and their girlfriends; Gary’s mother and brother; friends Sally and Mark Shaw; as well as additional family and friends. The celebration offers homemade food and two corn mazes: one walk-through and the second a drive-through/spook ride where two teams of Haflingers carry visitors through the attraction, day and night. All in all, customers have found the drive-through to be particularly enjoyable.
I am certainly not the most able of dairymen, nor the most skilled among vegetable growers, and by no means am I to be counted amongst the ranks of the master teamsters of draft horses. If there is anything remarkable about my story it is that someone could know so little about farming as I did when I started out and still manage to make a good life of it.
I confess that I am cold-hearted and cheap. Though I love raising poultry, I hate spending time and money anywhere but on my little farm. So I process at home. If you are only raising a few birds for yourself, say 25 or 30 at a time, I recommend having a party and doing it all by hand. My journey backward from machines to hands started with a chance encounter with a Kenyan chicken grower visiting the United States. He finishes 15,000 broilers each year.
To my great delight a sizable portion of the general eating public has over the past few years decided to begin to care a great deal about where their food comes from. This is good for small farmers. It bodes well for the future of the planet and leaves me hopeful. People seem to be taking Wendell Berry’s words to heart that “eating is an agricultural act;” that with every forkful we are participating in the act of farming.
I hear time and time again at the outset of each workshop, “I don’t know anything about working oxen.” And I say, “There is no more fun than being a beginner.” Myself and the staff get great pleasure in sharing our knowledge of working steers and oxen. For as long as there are those interested in working cattle, the men I mentioned early in this article will not be forgotten. I believe there will always be cattle worked on small farms and in the woods.
After having worked the machine and previous to starting it again, see that the pickers move freely and are free from starch and dirt from the potatoes. When turning corners, raise the furrow openers by means of the raising levers, which also raises the covering disks. The marker should be raised when not in operation to prevent danger of breaking.
If you are looking for the most complete set of observations and salient arguments around a future for livestock in farming, this book belongs on your shelf. If however your mission is to fuel the argument of veganism versus meat-eating, you will likely find yourself in the wrong room. I’m not interested in why you don’t want to eat meat, or why you do. I find that small talk unless you lived the life of either. What I am interested in is the health of our biological universe and how it is that the best farming will protect that and see it improve. Inside that sphere belong all of the plant and animal species available to the process.
Missouri Sunlit Hog House: This is an east and west type of house lighted by windows in the south roof. A single stack ventilation system with distributed inlets provides ventilation. Pen partitions may be of wood or metal. This plan takes the place of the original Missouri sunlit house since many farmers had difficulty in building it.
My father taught me how to work. He was the hardest working individual I have ever met. No frills in his life. Until we were all grown, that is, and then he and my mother traveled. They visited countries on almost every continent with wonderful stories to tell of England and Turkey, of Mexico and China, of South America and Singapore. They loved to travel. And he learned to golf, I think because when he moved to Florida to retire it was what old men did, they played golf. He got real good at it and even won a gold club for a tournament hole in one. But I know the proudest achievement of his golden years was the part he took in helping me to start this publication, the Small Farmer’s Journal.
About twenty years ago the old folks put up their electric ice cream maker, and went back to the hand-crank model never worn out or given away, that somehow stuck around. It seemed like here was a lesson being lost on the grandkids. What their schools like to call a teachable moment, out on the porch after dinner, as the evening breeze would come on, stealing the heat of the day. That what with the elbow grease and sore muscles, the waiting while the bucket’s passed around, all that playful banter dumped in with the fresh picked berries, cranked and cranked till it can’t get any harder and won’t keep another minute somehow real ice cream shouldn’t happen any other way.
Fuche’s Gulch is a good place for Jimmy to lie. I got permission to cross the Sample’s ranch so the walk there would be easy on him. His hind fetlocks were pretty swollen lately, being as broken down behind as he was, and I wanted it to be easy on him. I knew a spot up there at the head of the gulch, or one of the heads of the gulch. I’d found it out hiking one day, I’d followed a steep old trail down off the Boiler Spring road, barely visible, hard to find, but it led down to a sweet bottomland.
The first step was to decide on an appropriate chassis, or “running gear.” Eventually I chose to go with the real deal, a wooden-wheeled gear with leaf springs rather than pneumatic tires. Wooden wheels last forever with care and are functional and look the part. I bought an antique delivery wagon that had been left outdoors as an ornament. I was able to reuse some of the wheels and wooden parts of the running gear.
This last fall I paid a surprise visit to the Northeast Animal Power Field Days in Tunbridge, Vermont. This event, which was started a few years back by Carl Russell and Lisa McCrory, has been held each fall at the lovely, tucked-in, Tunbridge Fairgrounds. Early on its short history, all the folks identified with the event saw it encompassing a wide spectrum of cultural aspect as pertained to farming, woods-work, and the culture of the countryside. And so the doings have expanded to include workshops, talking sessions, films, demonstrations, and trade stuff that works out in concentric circles from the notion of sharing an interest in animal power to now encompass the wider small farm community of New England.
All suggestions on the chart are for an average check drop of 3 kernels per hill with the variable drop set at three; or for drilling, the plate cell accommodates one kernel. To obtain a wide range of drilling distances, plates having the same size cell but having more or less cells per plate are often required, in addition to different planter adjustments.
Grain must not be left in box after seeding. To clean box, drop gates. Disks and other important parts of machine would be covered with oil or grease, and the machine put under shelter. Good treatment prolongs the life of your machine.
How relocalized does a food economy need to be in the energy descent era? Throughout history, food security everywhere has been heavily dependent on a reliable supply of staple foods, especially starch staples like root crops, pulses (beans, peas, etc.) and grains. Our region once was self-sufficient in staples but gradually imported most of them. To regain food security, we must establish a measure of food sovereignty as local policy, especially in staple foods.
D Acres of New Hampshire in Dorchester, a permaculture farm, sustainability center, and non-profit educational organization, is a bit of a challenge to describe. Join us for this week-in-the-life tour, a little of everything that really did unfold in this manner. Extraordinary, perhaps, only in that these few November days were entirely ordinary.