Back Issue Vol: 39-3
The next morning we thought about taking her out to the barn to live with the milk cows’ calves, but the weather was still very cold. We were soft-hearted and decided to leave her in the house a little longer. Baby Michael was glad; he was fascinated by the calf and delightedly petted her like a big dog. As the day progressed, however, Bandit Eyes became livelier, bucking around and crashing into everything. Anyone going into the bathroom for any reason was immediately attacked by a bunting, slobbering calf.
Its been a long time ago now, from 50 to 55 years or so, back when I felt myself drawn to each and every image I ever came across of horses or mules working in harness. Didn’t know why. I was a city kid with no immediate background in the stuff. But the attraction was very strong and central to an overarching dream of someday having my own old-fashioned, general farm. Back in the fifties and early sixties, in urban centers, the conventional wisdom had it that agriculture had grown up for good and all. The industrialization of farming with its concomitant chemistry and heavy metal disease (big machinery) was, back then, already fashioning a base for today’s genetic engineering and cyber nonsense. Way back then anyone who expressed an interest, let alone a preference, for the old farm was branded as “backwards” and “sentimental.”
Cheviot ram • Shropshire ewe • Shropshire ram • Dorset-Horn ewe • Suffolk Down ram • Oxford Down ram • Oxford Down ewe • “Woolless” sheep • Dorset-Horn ram • Hamshire ewe • Rambouillet ram • American Merino ewe • Hardwick ram • Lincoln ram • Ryeland ram • Southdown ram • Rambouillet ewe • Cotswold • Leicester ram • Wensleydale ram • Hampshire ram • Delaine Merino ram
Chagfood Community Market Garden is a CSA supplying 80 shares a week from five acres, on the edge of a small town called Chagford on the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park, in Devonshire, England. Chagfood has been running since 2010 when it was set up by Ed Hamer and his wife Yssy. Having been born and brought up in the National Park, Ed was aware that many of the traditional farming skills and knowledge of the area have been lost as farming has become more intensive. As a result he was keen to use working horses on the market garden from the very beginning, in an effort to keep the skills of working horsemanship alive for the next generation.
From time immemorial farmers in our region attended the 4th of July festivities and began cutting hay the next day. And it is truly amazing how our weather pattern does noticeably shift right around the first week of July: out with June gloom, in with actual summer. This year was different. June started off hot and dry with none of the usually persistent marine cloud layer in sight. I wondered if I should start cutting hay early. I hesitated, not trusting the sun. Finally my cautious reluctance melted away and I had to join my neighbors and begin dropping some hay. Once I started I didn’t stop until the whole crop was tucked away in the barn. I finished this year before I would have usually even started.
Gangs can be leveled for large or small horses and also when it is desirable for the front shovels to dig deeper or shallower than the rear, by means of the tilting lever on tongue. Depth levers are arranged so individual gangs can be adjusted to any depth. Also, they allow the gang to be raised out of the ground to clear any obstruction. Depth levers should be set so as to cultivate the desired depth, then the master lever should be used for raising and lowering at the end and beginning of rows. The master lever allows both gangs to be raised and lowered and the cultivator to balance automatically with the one operation. If the master lever is operated at the end of the row while the horses are still going forward, it will be found more convenient. This also applies when beginning a row.
This summer, Kristi Gilman-Miller took half a hundred photos of partner Ed Joseph and I using McCormick-Deering #9 mowers to cut down Triticale grass mix hay. The crop would have been much better if we hadn’t been visited night-time by as many as 300 Elk looking for water and green feed. We planted in seven acre lands a quarter of a mile wide as we were recording variables in plantings for our research into the best future crop rotations. We were very impressed by the Triticale, a cross between Rye and Wheat, which makes a grain hay the cattle and horses love.
Hitching to the rake. Rake is designed to work with pole thirty-one inches or shafts forty-two inches from the ground, measuring underneath at front end. Only at this height are best results obtained. Oftentimes a rake does not do satisfactory work because the neckyoke holds the pole too high or too low, usually too low. If pole or shafts sag in the middle, remove, turn pole over and rebolt to rake. Keep pole bolts tight.
In 2014 the Cummington Challenge celebrated 20 years of entertaining spellbound spectators while, at the same time, educating everyone about the beauty and intelligence of oxen. In these 20 years upwards of 150 different teamsters have participated in this ever-changing obstacle course with their well-trained teams of various bovine breeds. They were judged and timed and their efforts were always applauded. The SRO audiences were treated to interesting, often comical, stories about each teamster and his/her team. Several bovine beauties were celebrities in documentaries. In all these years there have been only six different winners as some have won as many as six times!
The planet earth is a living entity. All of its elements including its geology, hydrology, and biology constitute an interconnected web of myriad factors and forces which have for millions of years balanced themselves in vitality and existence. To our collective knowledge no entity or force has been able to throw the planet off its balance except for modern man. There are those of us who work the land and feel the humbling effects of nature’s force who know that this grand and wonderful planet will take the demise of the human race as a small challenge. For me to continue to say that we small farmers can save the world is arrogant shorthand for the truth. What I should be saying is that the ways of we small farmers, as with the ways of honey bees, butterflies, elephants, dolphins and snails, might reasonably allow the continuation of nature’s harmonic balance.
I was still a bit groggy and adjusting my hat, when a shrill ethereal whine hit my ears. It was like a baby with a cough, long, hoarse, high-pitched screams of pain. A Piglet. It crawled towards me, its hind legs bearing no strength, streaked with mud and even some blood, whining at me, blaming me for all my sins, and ready to eat me for sure. The dead had come to exact their revenge. I dropped my milking bucket and ran away. I think that was a very sensible thing to do. Inside my mom and my sister were talking, my brother was slowly ambling out of bed, all blissfully unaware that the dead had risen because of my laziness.
I had Emily for 16 years, and in 40 years of raising cattle, she was my favorite animal. I am not one to be sentimental about cattle, as I have bought and sold many animals, without regret. In fact, as an Agriculture and Animal Science professor at the University of New Hampshire, I tell my students, many of whom want to be veterinarians or veterinary technicians, that I am a food animal professor. My life has been spent working with animals you raise for money, sale or meat. This is often a shock to students who have only had pets, and believe everyone would spend whatever it takes to treat an animal that is sick or dying. I have had plenty of dogs and cats, which are pets, but even with them, their value I often equate to a farm animal, which irritates my family to no end.
Maple sirup and sugar are produced during a period of from four to six weeks in the early spring and interfere but little with the other farm crops. The sugar season usually forms a welcome break between the comparative idleness of winter and the early spring plowing. It comes at a time when little else can be done. But after considering the long hours of tending the evaporator and the work of gathering the sap, many a man has asked himself if the results are worth the effort. Most of the producers of maple sirup and sugar tap less than 500 trees. Considered from the point of view of the bookkeeper who figures overhead, depreciation, labor costs, and interest, very few of these small groves can show a profit. But is there anything that can be done to better advantage at that season of the year? Faced with such a question, nearly every farmer who owns a maple grove will decide that sugar and sirup making is worth while.