Back Issue Vol: 47-1

A Devon Shovel Strawberries in June Apples in October

A Devon Shovel, Strawberries in June, Apples in October

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I run my small farm with draught horses. Four of them. Bella, Albert, George and Joey. They are the motive power on our land. We do not own or use any tractors. I came to this way of being from the tattered detritus of a former life. It had always been a dream with me, for as long as I could remember, to return to a horse drawn past. It was a life I felt would be more fulfilling than the barren and boring existence that so much of modernity offered.

Carrol Mac Dale McIntosh

Carrol “Mac” Dale McIntosh

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Mac was a friend and example to every member of his large family and to many hundreds of people with whom he shared life’s adventures and hardships. And he was a living legend and folk hero in his time. Across the mountain west he loved, he was the homespun humble circuit riding ‘preacher’ of choice to devout Christians as well as those without church membership, those who just naturally sought comfort and understanding. He was also that quiet sort of horseman, without splash, who some might think got lucky to have had so many willing, comfortable, calm, grateful equine working partners. It wasn’t luck, he made them that way so artfully that you were hard-pressed to see how he did it. Often the only evidence of intent was a twinkle in his eye.

Fieldwork Insight

Fieldwork Insight

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As part of a grant program on ecological farming and draft animal powered systems, we also cultivate agricultural fields outside Museum limits and in modern contexts. Last fall we planted a combination of four old heritage wheat varieties in order to build up a diverse and resilient wheat population. Today we used a weed harrow (tine weeder) on said wheat field for weed control and undersowed white clover. We did this with ox-power only.

Fruit of the Anacardia Tree

Fruit of the Anacardia Tree

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We have recently purchased an Anacardia plantation 4 acre piece – so now we are producing Anacardia from the mature trees. Anacardia is the Latin / French name for the Cashew nut tree. But Camerounians don’t much eat the nuts, they go for the juicy fruit as it ripens. If the fruit is eaten then the nut never ripens. If a person waits for the nut to ripen then the fruit is rotten. We got a washtub of fruits with a potential sale down the road but the 22 resident street boys and orphans managed to eat it all overnight. :)

Grow Cowpeas for Food Resilience

Grow Cowpeas for Food Resilience

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Cowpeas are a genus of beans that everyone in the middle and southern States ought to know about. They are a super-easy-to-grow, versatile, nutritious, highly edible family of beans that includes many cultivars of heritage, heirloom, and landrace flavors. Some you may have heard of before are the Black-eyed pea, Crowder pea, and Asparagus Bean which is a close relative from Asia. Just like green beans, there are vine and bush varieties of the cowpea, so keep that in mind when choosing which varieties to grow.

Just for Kids - 471 - Summer 2023

Just for Kids – Summer 2023

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From Charmers to Porkers • How To Draw a Piglet • The Tale of Nimble Deer – Part 4

Lauresham Field Day

Lauresham Field Day

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(On a recent) Sunday, a large field day was held for the second time in the surroundings of the Lauresham Open-Air Lab. The main purpose of the event was on one hand to strengthen the public awareness of animal traction systems, but on the other hand also to create a forum for professional exchange on various issues of harnessing, equipment, cultivation methods and animal welfare. In addition, there were information stands and sales booths with products that are characterized by the inclusion of animal traction in the production process.

LittleField Notes Cruelest Month

LittleField Notes: Cruelest Month

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Because it is planted on the mysterious hill behind the farmhouse, I have decided to call my new vineyard Colline Mystérieuse. I am convinced that wine made from Clos Colline Mystérieuse will be far more delicious than that made from “Mysterious Hill Vineyard,” with the French adding a certain linguistic terroir. On verra, we’ll see. If the wine is so-so with the French, maybe some improvement could be had from Collina Misteriosa, after all, the Italians make pretty fine wine themselves.

Lost and Found in Wendell Berrys Kentucky

Lost and Found in Wendell Berry’s Kentucky

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It was early on a cold March morning when Sarah and I found ourselves driving north beside the Kentucky River. We were hoping to enter the county through its back gate, which we figured was up from the river, now running emerald green and swollen on our right. No road sign announced Henry County so when we sensed we were there we took the next left, which brought us up the Kentucky’s escarpment, through a thick woods, and onto a tangle of narrow, curvy winding up and down roads. They were almost as bad as back home. The state road map didn’t show county roads and our GPS couldn’t find service, so soon we were helplessly, but happily, lost.

Making Lines

Making Lines

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In regards to how to stitch harness lines, when I make mine I cut 2-3 lengths 1.5 inches wide out of the hide on its longest side. The ends of these strips of leather are rounded and then run through a skiver to taper them. These tapered ends are laid together and stitched in an oval pattern. Then I usually also rivet it. If you don’t taper these ends before stitching they can catch the harness and you can lose your control of the lines.

McCormick-Deering Farmall-M Tractor

McCormick-Deering Farmall-M Tractor

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Tractors used for cultivating require high clearance; the center of gravity is necessarily higher than in other types of tractors or automobiles, and to avoid accidents and injury when operating at the higher speeds, greater care must be exercised than is used in operating automobiles. Even modern automobiles with their low centers of gravity are frequently wrecked by thoughtless drivers when making sharp turns on smooth paved roads; this demonstrates clearly the need for care in turning in high gear with any high clearance tractor.

Organic No-Till Garlic

Organic No-Till Garlic

Reflected by decades of Anne and Eric’s rich brocade of inquiry into the orchestration of a top soil’s happy growth to astounding balance and fertility; in this short, deliberate, carefully crafted film of their legendary garden and gardening, the Nordell’s of Pennsylvania offer up to anyone anywhere on this sacred, fragile, and hungry planet an illuminating action view of one small example of how farming might be holistically and practically accomplished to the benefit of the entirety of biological life.

Rotary Horsepower Units

Rotary Horsepower Units

Living off grid is a fascinating way of life that captivates large audiences with varying degrees of reservation. Here in Southern Iowa, Khoke and I carve out a life on the land that omits many modern amenities that electricity in any form is counted among. A couple of the most common concerns people ask about include, how we manage without refrigeration, and how we do laundry. To say we do laundry with horses only begets more questions. Setting aside the mental image of horses treading washtubs full of laundry, our laundry house consists of more than one wringer washer powered by an old cast iron single sweep rotary horse power unit that Khoke rebuilt.

Thatching

Thatching

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Thatch can provide a very durable and handsome roof. In the U.K., where thatching has a rich history, there are instances of a water reed roof lasting over 100 years. This example is exceptional. I would estimate a typical reed roof to last 50 plus years. The quality of the water reed, the skill in thatching, and the environment that the roof is exposed to would all contribute to the longevity or lack thereof.

The Foal

The Foal

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When I was ‘the young fella’ who took horses to the forge Issac Stoops asked me to get a set of shoes on ‘the foal.’ ‘The foal’ was twelve years old; a lovely black mare of 15 hands he had bred himself. Issac never took the mare out on the road so I gather it was to give her a bit of traction ploughing a very steep brae behind his house. It was at a time in our country when ploughmen took great pride in the uniformity of their potato drills. ‘Straight as a gun shot’ being a term. Issac however was not so disciplined. ‘Your drills are a bit crooked’ a neighbour commented. ‘Aw what odds; sure they’re only for the pigs’ Issac would reply.

The Last Scarecrow

The Last Scarecrow

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if on the farm you were not strong enough
to dig a ditch fork hay or pull a plow
with no rhythm in the hands to milk a cow
these marginal ones still always had a job
women men girls boys too feeble or frail
sat in orchards or stood along fencerows
like statues with stones in their pockets
to keep crows out of ripening crops

The Missouri Dewberry Project

The Missouri Dewberry Project

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There is currently a project in the beginning stages, to evaluate the cultivars and wild selections of dewberries to determine which are best suited to production in southern Missouri, especially in areas considered marginal for commercial true blackberry farming. We also plan to collect a body of agronomic, taxonomic, and phenological data regarding this specialty crop. Old newspaper reports from Douglas and Ozark counties tell of local families canning large amounts of them in the early 20th century, but for various reasons their cultivation has declined.

The Summer Harvest

The Summer Harvest

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The principle here, shared by both flowers and most vegetables, is that plants bloom and fruit to set seed to further their species. If this attempt is thwarted, it stimulates the plant to produce more flowers/vegetables. Whereas if it fully succeeds in seeding the next generation, then it has no drive to remain productive. Vegetables need to be picked regularly to remain productive. Not only does the plant need motivation to keep growing, but having over ripe vegetables promotes disease, spoilage and attracts insects. Let’s walk through the garden and talk about some of the vegetables and their unique needs. Most of this you’ll already know, but everyone likes to visit the garden this time of year. Especially for a watermelon.

Welcome to the Hogstravaganza

Welcome to the Hogstravaganza!

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Welcome to the Hogstravaganza!

Working Horses and Mules for Our Future

Working Horses & Mules for Our Future

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In my case, coming to some small mastery of the craft of working horses required a fortunate blend of environments. First came an over arching hunger to acquire the skill, then came associations and friendships with teamsters I admired, then access to examples of failure as well as success, and then – to bind it all together – came a farm and farming that needed a working horse system to win out. Add in experienced work horses and their daily needs and make of it your immersion, the place you wanted to be, the work you wanted to succeed at, the talent you were in search of.