Back Issue Vol: 45-2
How is a farmer’s promise unique from a doctor’s or a politician’s or a realtor’s or a salesman’s or a mom’s or a dad’s or a child’s? Family heritage and environment notwithstanding, the child’s promise is, on most counts, wrapped in that young person’s formative potential, in his or her trajectory, in their blend of hope, faith and innocent optimism. A farmer’s promise is similar to a child’s except for the fact that the requisite optimism cannot always be called innocent. Most other categories – lawyering, doctoring, parenting, sales, politicking – by definition, have very little potential affected as they are by an inverted optimism with the resulting twisted and compromised sense of acceptable outcome.
I live in Wendland, a small area between Hamburg and Berlin, and I work with horses. I’m a full time horse logger and I cooperate with a CSA garden. My mares, Polka and Mairun, work there all the year and I work in the forest with my stallion, Peer, and my gelding, Konrad. Here in Germany horse-logging is not very common, there are only 20 full-time horse loggers in the whole country. On the other hand, it seems that in agriculture horses are getting more and more popular, mainly in CSA projects.
The McIntosh Threshing Bee of 2021 was, for the sake of the times, scaled down to a much smaller, safer group of participants. As for implements, they employed their Case threshing machine, an old Oliver tractor for belt drive and a John Deere grain binder. All of the equipment has been well maintained and is fully operational. Two days before the scheduled threshing, the Case separator was taken from barn storage along with the required hand tools; these included pitchforks and old wrenches, but also a shop vacuum cleaner, a grease gun, grease, oil and a compressor. All round the Case thresher there are many handy inspection ports and access doors. Jacob and Jamesy McIntosh use both compressed air and vacuum to disturb and remove any nests, dirt and settled chaff and seed. They work methodically walking around the big machine and cleaning through inspection holes then turning the corresponding pulleys a little to clean some more. They spend pretty much all of a half day with this process.
I absolutely love chickens and ducks and geese! There, I stand exposed. And this book I am reviewing, I love it, too!! It is both a wondrous and wonderful book, especially if you are a poultry fancier who needs to know the what (duck, goose, chicken etc.), why (as in why would you want to raise this breed) and whose-its (as in crazy tidbit info i.e. coloration nomenclature) of individual species – or maybe you just want to be able to see how they are different. As you may note by the copyright date, this is not a new book but it deserves careful attention as a reference volume. It will have a long shelf life. It features well over one hundred excellent color photos and is expertly organized for easy use.
Plant breeding is, as Irwin Goldman observes, the slowest of the performing arts and this is particularly true for biennials like cabbage, who have evolved to set seed in their second growing season. In the autumn of 2016, as we embarked on crossing a purple cone-headed cabbage with a green one, we dug the roots and be-headed the stalks of about 100 cabbages. After overwintering in our root cellar, we re-planted each stalk in spring and if you’ve never seen cabbage go to seed, it’s quite astonishing. Each darling cabbage down at your feet sprouts a dozen or so spires rising five feet or higher, bursting into hundreds of blooms, canary yellow and cabbage-y sweet. Pollinators flock to the ruckus with long, green pods emerging from each pollinated flower. The sea of green pods turn to gold as the seed matures and we harvest them just as the first pods begin to shatter.
The family milk cow has followed the small farmer through the ages and lives on yet today. She comes in many colors, sizes and dispositions. As with any animal, she comes with the dignity of her own personality and characteristics. Every cow I have ever had or milked has been unique in her own way. Some I have loved and some, well, not so much.
The recent article on gooseberries in SFJ (44-3) prompted me to write a bit about our own experience picking wild gooseberries on our farm in the Missouri Ozarks. When we moved here in 2012, we, as I imagine nearly everyone does who acquires a small farm, set about learning as much as we could about it. A large part of this learning was becoming acquainted with the flora of the place, learning the names of the trees and bushes and grasses and all else, where they grow and why they grow there, and what their uses are. One of our happiest findings was the abundance of small green striped fruits growing on innumerable bushes across our 25 acres, which we shortly learned were gooseberries. We had heard of gooseberries but otherwise knew absolutely nothing about them, a deficit that was righted by referring to a couple of books on wild edibles. So we quickly learned we could eat them, though how wonderful they were was a joy that was withheld from us until that first pie (which, as it happened, was based on a recipe found in the My Small Kitchen section of an older SFJ).
We raised our first batch of guinea fowl in 2015 as part of a Poultry CSA we initiated that year. Truth be told, the guineas were a large part of the reason we decided to offer the Poultry CSA in the first place. We had read positive things about the guinea as a table bird and wanted to raise some ourselves, but being unsure how they would be received by customers at the farmers market we figured we could essentially ‘hide’ them in a CSA share and thus more easily get them into people’s hands; that is, our hope was that we could get people to try guineas simply by joining our CSA, without requiring them to make a conscious decision to directly buy something they had likely never eaten before. Whether or not that ploy made a difference – I now suspect they would have sold just fine by themselves – that year did convince us of the superlative nature of guineas as table fowl.
No sooner had we arrived in Great Falls, and Nick put forth a wonderful idea – Grant-Kohrs needs a horse drawn dump wagon. Betty knows where a couple of them are, and we could restore one for the Ranch’s use. Grant-Kohrs will pay for any materials needed and we would donate the labor. Nick had brought his flatbed trailer and we could leave in the morning for Brady, MT, to meet Harvey & Marcia Hollandsworth. Out across the wheat lands of Montana we did go. Betty and Marcia had worked together for years with the 4-H clubs and Harvey, like Nick and me, is short on only one thing – TIME! We are never bored and we have way too many projects to complete in a normal lifetime. A good condition to have! One of the wagons was made by the Russell Co. and the other was made by the Western Wheeled Scraper Works located in Aurora, IL.
Hardly a soul on my mail route knew I was even a horseman till they saw Ketchum’s tracks that morning breasting thirty-some inches of snow. I hadn’t even known what I was going to do about that much snow when the sun rose on a cloudless dazzling sky, where the valley lay stiff and still. The postal jeep had about sixteen inches of road clearance, and even heading downhill in four-wheel drive had been stopped in a couple car-lengths by its undercarriage packed tight with the white stuff. I’d had to shovel out the worst of it, then saddle and bridle Ketchum anyhow, get a loop on the rear bumper and tow the jeep back into my barn where the town let me park it. The town didn’t own a real shed but the one behind Town Hall where they parked the school bus and snowplow. I’d given Ketchum a couple flakes of hay and broke the ice on his trough then called Hank Overton to find out there’d be no snowplow this morning.
The backing and braking structure for the western basket brichen team harness. Though it is secondary in the overall function and purpose of the harness, it is potentially the more complex and variable portion of the system. It is useful to keep in mind that these combined straps are specific and vital to its named operation along with the related essentials of keeping a rolling vehicle or implement from running up on the heels of the animal or team and holding the front end of the tongue or pole up off the ground.