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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Dear Mr. Miller,
I recently came across this 100 year old newspaper while cleaning out the woodshed. There is an article titled “Money In Weeds” that I thought was interesting. Maybe you’ll find some other articles of note, if not for printing then maybe just for fun. Please excuse the condition it is in.
Hope all is well with you and your family.
Keep up the good fight,
Matt Stauffer, Palermo, Maine
P.S. I really enjoyed your talk years ago at the Common Ground Fair, so nice to hear it and get a chance to meet you.paula's-garden

 

MONEY IN WEEDS

reprinted from The Maine Farmer: An Agricultural and Family Newspaper, May 10, 1906

One of the simplest and most novel ways for a boy to earn money is by gathering the leaves and roots of weeds that grow by the roadside, and in the fields where they pester the farmer.

The most annoying weed the farmer has to deal with is “witch-grass,” “couch-grass,” or “quack-grass.” It was regarded once as a good thing, but it has become a nuisance. It is a coarse grass growing in clumps of two or three stems from two to four feet high from a creeping, pointed rootstalk, and bears densely-flowered, spike-like heads resembling those of rye and beardless wheat. The stems are round, smooth, thickened at the joints, and hollow, bearing from five to seven sheath-like leaves. The grass is one of the most difficult weeds to eradicate on account of the long-jointed root-stalk, each joint of which is the source of a new plant.

These roots are caught by the harrow when the land is cultivated, and it has to be dumped of its trailing burden at the edge of the patch. Here is the chance for the lad after money. The part of the grass most valuable to the pharmacist is the part most aggravating to the farmer. It is the long, tough, creeping root-stalk which creeps along just under the surface. In color it is pale yellow, smooth, about one-eighth of an inch in diameter, with joints at intervals of about an inch, from which slender, branching rootlets are produced. The tip of a root is needle-pointed.

After the root-stalks have been collected and washed, the rootlets should be removed and the root-stalks cut into short pieces about two-fifths of an inch long. The lever-feed cutter that farmers use for cutting corn fodder is good for this work. The chopped roots should then be spread out to dry on shelves in a shed or barn where there is light and air. They should be spread thinly and turned from day to day until completely cured. This process takes from three to six weeks. Be neat, for the bright, clean roots bring the highest prices.

In the drug trade “witch-grass” is known as triticum. As sold at stores it is in the form of small angular pieces, straw-colored, shiny and hollow. For medicinal purposes, it is almost wholly an imported article. About 250,000 pounds are imported annually from Europe, and the price paid is from three to seven cents per pound. In selling drugs, a sample lot, a handful, should be sent for inspection and quotation to the nearest commission merchants dealing in drugs, whose address may be secured at the home drug store. “Witch-grass” roots are best gathered in the spring when the land is under cultivation.

Later in the summer a new weed, the dandelion, is at its best for medicinal purposes. This common plant thrives everywhere but in the South. It is found in fields, in the rank roadside growths, and is especially annoying on lawns. The part of the plant valuable as a drug is its long taproot from twelve to eighteen inches long, thick and fleshy like a parsnip dull yellow or brownish on the outside, clear white on the inside, odorless and very bitter. A thick, milky juice oozes from the root when it is cut or bruised. The time to dig the root is from July to September when the milky juice is thickening and the bitterness is increasing. The root should be thoroughly washed and dried. It wrinkles lengthwise in drying, and decreases in weight one-half. Last year the imports of dandelion root amounted to 115,522 pounds, and the price paid varied from four to six cents per pound.

Other weeds that are valuable as drugs, wholly or in part, are the burdocks, mullein, lobelia and tansy. Ambitious boys may pick up considerable money in collecting drugs for the market, and even “grown-ups” may find it profitable. The modern manufacturer is successful in proportion to his ability to utilize the by-products of his factory. In the same way, farmers and farmers’ sons may convert the necessary evil by-products of their business, the weeds, into coin of the palm.—American Boy.

Spotlight On: Equipment & Facilities

Illusive Herd of Threshasaurus Sighted

Illusive Herd of Threshasaurus Sighted

by:
from issue:

The Threshasaurus’s large size and curious nature may appear antagonistic, but they are mostly curious and largely non-threatening. Be careful when approaching, however, as they do have sharp teeth and many fast moving, exposed pulleys.

Cultivating Questions The Cost of Working Horses

Cultivating Questions: The Cost of Working Horses

Thanks to the many resources available in the new millennium, it is relatively easy for new and transitioning farmers to learn the business of small-scale organic vegetable production. Economic models of horse-powered market gardens, however, are still few and far between. To fill that information hole, I asked three experienced farmers to join me in tracking work horse hours, expenses and labor over a two-year period and to share the results in the Small Farmer’s Journal.

Plowing with the Single Horse

Plowing with the Single Horse

All other aspects being equal, the primary difference in plowing, comfortably, with a single horse is that the animal walks on unplowed ground immediately adjacent to the previous furrow, rather than in the furrow. This will cause the point of draft at the shoulder to be somewhat higher and will dictate hitching longer and/or higher than with the animal walking down 5 to 8 inches lower in the furrow.

Center Cut Mower

Center Cut Mower

by:
from issue:

The prospect of clipping pastures and cutting hay with the mower was satisfying, but I wondered how I might take advantage of a sickle mower in my primary crop of grapes. The problem is, my grape rows are about 9 feet apart, and the haymower is well over 10 feet wide. I decided to reexamine the past, as many of us do in our unconventional agricultural pursuits. I set off with the task of reversing the bar and guards to lay across the front path of the machine’s wheels.

The Horsedrawn Mower Book

Removing the Wheels from a McCormick Deering No. 9 Mower

How to remove the wheels of a No. 9 McCormick Deering Mower, an excerpt from The Horsedrawn Mower Book.

Fencing for Horses

Fencing for Horses

by:
from issue:

The first wire we tried was a small gauge steel wire which was not terribly satisfactory with horses. Half the time they wouldn’t see it and would charge on through. And the other half of the time they would remember getting shocked by something they hadn’t seen there and would refuse to come through when we were standing there with gate wide open. We realized that visibility was an important consideration when working with horses.

Eighteen Dollar Harrow

Eighteen Dollar Harrow

by:
from issue:

This is the story of a harrow on a budget. I saw plans on the Tillers International website for building an adjustable spike tooth harrow. I modified the plans somewhat to suit the materials I had available and built a functional farm tool for eighteen dollars. The manufactured equivalent would have cost at least $300.

Fjordworks Plowing the Market Garden

Fjordworks: Plowing the Market Garden Part 1

In a horse-powered market garden in the 1- to 10-acre range the moldboard plow can still serve us very well as one valuable component within a whole tool kit of tillage methods. In the market garden the plow is used principally to turn in crop residue or cover crops with the intention of preparing the ground to sow new seeds. In these instances, the plow is often the most effective tool the horse-powered farmer has on hand for beginning the process of creating a fine seed bed.

McCormick-Deering Tractor Disc Harrow No. 10-A

McCormick-Deering Tractor Disc Harrow No. 10-A

Small to mid-sized disc-harrows are a most useful tillage implement. Some farmers consider them indispensable. Discs such as the McD 10-A may be used with either tractors or big hitches of work horses. This tool will cut both plowed and unplowed ground. Ahead of the moldboard plow, the disc harrow is a valuable tool to cut up and free tough sod. When employed in tandem with spring tooth harrows, a great deal of work can be accomplished in much less time.

The Brabants Farm

The Brabants’ Farm

by:
from issue:

The Brabants’ Farm is a multi purpose farming operation whose main goal is to promote “horsefarming.” Our philosophy is to support the transformation of regional conventional agriculture and forestry into a sustainable, socially responsible, and less petroleum dependent based agriculture, by utilizing animal drawn technology (“horsefarming”), and by meeting key challenges in 21st century small scale agriculture and forestry in Colombia and throughout South America.

John Deere Corn Binder

John Deere Corn Binder

from issue:

The John Deere Corn Binder is set up as illustrated in the following pages. The darkened portions of the progressive illustrations show clearly the parts to be assembled and attached in proper order. Where the instructions or the connecting points are numbered, follow closely the order in which they are numbered and lettered. Arrows are also used to point out important adjustments or parts that need special attention in setting up.

International Harvester Fertilizer Distributor

International Harvester Fertilizer Distributor

from issue:

Because of the many varieties and mixtures of fertilizer, it is impossible to give complete tables listing them. It is, however, very easy to determine the distribution of any particular fertilizer by proceeding as follows. Put a cloth, or some large sheets of paper under the machine and turn the main driving wheel 57 times for 7′, 51 times for 8′ and 46 times for 9′ machine. Weigh the amount ejected which will indicate the amount distributed per one-tenth of an acre.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 4

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 4

by:
from issue:

Over the last few years of making hay, the mowing, turning and making tripods has settled into a fairly comfortable pattern, but the process of getting it all together for the winter is still developing. In the beginning I did what everyone else around here does and got it baled, but one year I decided to try one small stack. The success of this first stack encouraged me to do more, and now most of my hay is stacked loose.

A Hidden Treasure

A Hidden Treasure

When David and Gus visited Mr. Hemmett they had an unexpected find. Not only was there the small tip-cart but other full sized farm wagons. The first that David looked at was a double shafted Lincolnshire wagon designed for the flat lands of that county and too big and heavy for his Suffolk mare of 16.2 hands. But tucked at the back under a tarpaulin was the ideal vehicle – a Norfolk wagon that could take either a single or double shaft and was suitable for the smaller draught horse.

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

by: ,
from issue:

It is now possible to purchase a make of machine to suit almost any condition if the money is available. There is no doubt that eventually they will be quite generally used. However, the dry farmers are at present hard pressed financially and in many instances the purchase of very much machinery is out of the question. For the man of small means or limited acreage, a homemade implement may be utilized at least temporarily.

Horsedrawn Dempster Well Driller

Horsedrawn Dempster Well Driller

by:
from issue:

The driller is like an auger type post hole digger powered by one horse walking around the machine. The gear is stationary. The platform and everything on it (including operators) goes around and around with the horse. The auger shaft is clamped to the platform so the auger makes one revolution as the horse makes one revolution. The gears operate a winch. It appears the winch can also be cranked by hand.

Planet Jr Two Horse Equipment

Planet Jr. Two-Horse Equipment

from issue:

This information on Planet Jr. two horse equipment is from an old booklet which had been shared with us by Dave McCoy, a horse-logger from our parts: “Think of the saving made in cultivating perfectly two rows of potatoes, beans, corn or any crop planted in rows not over 44 inches apart, at a single passage. This means double work at a single cost, for the arrangement of the fourteen teeth is such that all the ground is well tilled and no open furrows are left next to the row, while one man attends easily to the work, with one team.”

Permanent Corncribs

A short piece on the construction of corncribs.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT