Back Issue Vol: 36-1

Additional Notes on Horsepower

Additional Notes on Horsepower

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If it don’t feel right – check it out! Instinct is a most important applied aspect in every successful teamster’s tool chest. When things seem not to be as they should be, when things feel odd or out of balance, when everything looks a little different to you but you can’t put your finger directly on the change – PAY ATTENTION. Take the time to check the animal’s comfort, the fit of the harness, the buckles and snaps. It could be in the air and they feel it but you don’t.

Birth of a Farm

Birth of a Farm

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“Isn’t it nice?” I offer to my supper companions, “to see our beautiful horses right while we’re eating? I feel like I’m on a Kentucky horse farm, with rolling bluegrass vistas.” I sweep my arm dramatically towards the view, the rigged up electric fence, the lawn straggling down to the pond, the three horses, one of whom is relieving herself at the moment. “Oh, huh,” he answers. “I was thinking it was more like a cheesy bed and breakfast.”

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms A Planning Manual

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms

The book begins with basics: the hows and whys of managing crop rotation and a short lecture on soil tilth and nutrition. Then Mohler and Johnson offer more than a dozen farm-tested crop sequences from the field, along with a step-by-step rotation planning guide. Even so, it’s not a fill-in-the-blank and you’re ready to plant type guide. The editors don’t tell growers which crop should follow what. Instead, they challenge growers to become intimately acquainted with their land, topography, crops and markets and guide them to develop a crop rotation program suited to their particular farm and cultural style.

Cultivating Questions Going Single

Cultivating Questions: Going Single

Going single did not occur to us until we began receiving questions from prospective teamsters who felt it would be more manageable and economical to get started with a single horse than a team. After 29 years of market gardening with two or more horses, our impetus to try out one-horse farming was not a question of management or economy, but due to the radically diverging horse temperaments on our farm.

Farm-Based Education Conference Report

Farm-Based Education Conference Report

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On November 3-5, 2011, the Farm Based Education Association (FBEA) hosted their 5th Farm Based Education Conference at the idyllic Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. This was a gathering of farmers, teachers, non-formal educators, food and farm advocates, community organizers and land conservationists, amongst others, all brought together by their collective passion: farm education. The setting could not have been better. Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit education center for sustainability, a 1,400 acre working farm, and a National Historic Landmark.

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster Part 1

The first step to a successful training session is to decide ahead of time what it is you wish to accomplish with your horse. In the wild the horses in a band require the strength of a lead horse. Your horse needs you to be that strong leader, but she can’t follow you if you don’t know where you want to go. On the other hand, we need to retain some space within ourselves for spontaneity to respond to the actual physical and mental state of our young horse on any given day.

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart

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As we start, consider a few things when building a pto cart. Are big drive tires necessary? Is a lot of weight needed? Imagine the cart in use. Try to see it working where you normally go and where you almost never go. Will it be safe and easy to mount or dismount? Can you access the controls of the implement conveniently? Is it easy to hook and unhook? Where is the balance point? I’m sure you will think of other details as you daydream about it.

Just for Kids 361 Winter 2012

Just for Kids – Winter 2012

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Little Brown Bear • Find the Snow Man • High Adventure • On My Birthday • Spin a Spinner

LittleField Notes Fall 2011

LittleField Notes: Fall 2011

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There is a certain set of skills and knowledge that tend to fall through the cracks of your average farm how-to book. Books of a more specialized nature are also abundant but often seem to take a fairly simple subject and make it seem daunting in scope and detail. What follows are a few tidbits of knowledge that I have found useful over the years – the little things that will inevitably need to be learned at some point in the farmer education process.

Mob Grazing Improves Pasture and Stocking Rate

Mob Grazing Improves Pastures and Stocking Rate

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The term mob grazing is often used to describe short duration high-intensity grazing – with many cattle on a small area of pasture, moved once a day or even several times a day to a new section of pasture. Kevin Fulton, of Fulton Farms in central Nebraska, says not everyone has the same definition when they think about mob grazing. “We’ve been doing rotational grazing on our place for nearly 40 years, but didn’t do it very intensively until about 9 years ago when we started doing some daily moves and even some multiple daily moves,” says Fulton.

New Idea Manure Spreaders

New Idea Manure Spreaders

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There is no fixed method of loading. The best results are usually obtained by starting to load at the front end, especially in long straw manure. To get good results do not pile any manure into the cylinders. The height of the load depends upon the condition of the manure, the condition and nature of the field. Do not put on extra side boards. Be satisfied with the capacity of the machine and do not abuse it. Overloading will be the cause of loss of time sooner or later.

Partridge the Northern Apple Growers Nightmare

Partridge, the Northern Apple Grower’s Nightmare

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Apple orchards suffer from a wide range of problems. The worst of all is not moose, deer, rabbits, voles, round-headed apple tree borers, sawfly, codling-moth, curculio, or scab. It is a bird, the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), known locally by the nickname partridge, which is the term I will use in this article. Partridge eat the buds of trees in the winter, and apple buds are among their favorite foods. They eat both leaf and flower buds, but leaf buds will regenerate the same year. Flower buds will not; they require two years in formation. If you lose all your flower buds, you will have no apples. Just one partridge is easily capable of “budding” an entire small orchard over the course of the winter.

Preventing Deer Damage

Preventing Deer Damage

Juhre begins with an appraisal of deer, both mule deer and white tail. If you’re going to outwit them, he says, you’ve got to know them: their feeding habits, their preferences, how high they can jump, how small an opening they can squeeze under… They are, he says, creatures of habit. So if you don’t want them in your garden, you need to set those boundaries early in the game. Once they’re used to snacking on the gladioli it’s hard to change their ways.

Ruth

Ruth

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Numerous famous authors have recorded gut wrenching accounts of the loss of beloved animals. Steinbeck’s The Red Pony and Rawlings’ The Yearling come to mind, but there are many others. Those writings were required reading as I experienced secondary English education. Form, content, personification, and symbolism swept over us like a tidal wave. However, living the event of the loss is far more grievous than reading about it.

Spence Farm

Spence Farm

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Last March I traveled to Illinois to speak at the first general meeting of the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network. The Travis family of Spence Farm, Journal subscribers, had been instrumental in getting me to go out. I paid their magnificent diversified farm a short visit before the talk. Marty, Kris and Will were working in the maple syrup rendering shed amidst their farm forest. Several folks had joined them for the work day. I visited with them as we walked that crisp morning.

Starting a Farm Internship Program

Starting a Farm Internship Program

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Farming and ranching internships seem to be the twenty-first century’s answer to the need for hands-on, person-to-person education on the art, science and business of sustainable farming and ranching. Well-designed internships can provide interns with basic skills and experiences necessary to make a start in farming as a profession. For established farmers, internships can provide an opportunity to foster and inspire a new generation of producers.

The Magna Grecia Hoe

The Magna Grecia Hoe

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Last spring I put a handle on a curious gardening tool I picked up at the FALCI company in Italy. Ashley, our 17-year-old (a seasoned gardener and enthusiastic digging fork user), was first to try it. She came back excitedly in a rather short time with a request: “Call to Italy right away and have them send us more of these.” “These” are the Magna Grecia hoes, popular in the Calabria region of South Italy but, interestingly, known in very few other places.

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

The Milk & Human Kindness: Making Cheese

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Yogurt making is the perfect introduction into the world of cultured dairy products and cheese-making. You are handling milk properly, becoming proficient at sanitizing pots and utensils, and learning the principles of culturing milk. Doing these things regularly, perfecting your methods, sets you up for cheese-making very well. Cheese-making involves the addition of a few more steps beyond the culturing.

The New Pioneer Homesteader

The New Pioneer Homesteader

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Mindful of the challenges of doing precision row cultivation, Pioneer put the driver behind the work for easier visibility. Other nifty bits of engineering include a cutaway seat frame allowing operator to slide into seat without stepping over any railing. The toolbar is in front of the axle so the implement turns with the horses – (instead of behind the axle where the implement turns opposite of horses.) Toolbar raises and lowers while maintaining level position. Wheels are adjustable for different row spacings. The tongue has an adjustable stabilizer that permits precision leveling of the tool at hand. The bushings are oil impregnated.

The Road to Better Corn is Open

The Road to Better Corn is “Open”

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Most farmers take it for granted that hybrid corn will yield more, acre for acre, than an open-pollinated variety. However, as advocates of OP corn have always been apt to point out, yield isn’t everything. OP corn is well known to be more nutritious than hybrid strains, having more minerals, free sugars, and protein and less plain starch. Even animals will almost always preferentially consume OP ear corn if given a choice between it and a hybrid. Moreover, the wider gene pool of OP corn makes it resistant and/or tolerant to a wider variety of microbial diseases and insect pests.

Three Eggs in a Two Egg Pan

Three Eggs in a Two Egg Pan

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Good farming, that hand-held sensorial salad-like agriculture resident in our genetic memory, is today’s unsung hero in the swirl of societal options. It offers up right livelihood (jobs we might embrace as truly fulfilling and sustaining) to hundreds of millions of people, it provides a catacomb-like community of little laboratories where the fertility and diversity of biological life bubbles over into a shared over-lapping regenerating abundance, an affordable wealth. It is what most of us want for ourselves, for our times, for each other. It is what only a few of us believe is attainable. And that is not because it is difficult or out of reach, it is because we are told, indirectly and repeatedly, that it can’t be done, and we haven’t been able to hold off that negative message.

Visioning County Food Production Part 5

Visioning County Food Production Part 5

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Ideally this process would be part of a general physical redesign of both the urban and hinterland communities according to the model that emerged in Europe, where centuries of higher population densities have dictated more careful land use planning. Even today, European towns large and small are characteristically dense clusters of buildings that end abruptly in agrarian vistas.