Ann brought her “All-in-One” single horse implement to our farm. The horse drawn implement is a basic frame with two front wheels, handles and receivers for the different implements such as hilling disks, cultivators, and bed marker. Ann designed handlebars that can be raised, lowered and offset with simple sturdy pins and levers. The wheels can be adjusted in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Both horse and driver can be offset to avoid walking on the cultivated beds. Ann put thought into the weight, balance and ease of use for this implement.
Since being introduced to the straddle row cultivator last year in hilling our potatoes, I have been excited to experiment with different tools mounted under the versatile machine. Like the famed Allis Chalmers G or Farmall Cub my peers of the internal combustion persuasion utilize on their vegetable farms, this tool can help maximize efficiency in many ways on the small farm.
We know all too well the frustration of putting your heart and soul into a crop only to have the wildlife consume it before you can get it harvested let alone to market. Our farm sits next to several thousand acres of state game lands and is the only produce operation in the area. As you can imagine, deer pressure can be intense. Neighbors have counted herds of 20 or more in our pastures.
A farm is never a static entity, a healthy farming system is something that grows and learns and builds upon itself with experience and time. Any successful farming system is ultimately the summation of an intelligent response of the farmers, eked out through years of trial and error, to the unique characteristics of their particular piece of ground. The farm cannot exist as a fixed point in time but only as the cumulative result of cyclical effort, exhaustion, and rejuvenation.
For the teamster who first and foremost just plain loves driving horses, hitching the team to a fully restored and well-oiled cultivator is a wonderful way to spend time with horses. For those intrigued by the intricacies of machines and systems, the riding cultivator offers endless opportunities for tweaking and innovation. And for those interested in herbicide free, ecologically produced vegetable and field crops, the riding cultivator is a practical and precise tool for successful cultivation.
For more than ten years we cultivated our market garden with the walk-behind cultivator. This past season we made the transition to the riding cultivator. I really enjoyed using this amazing implement. Our current team of Fjords are now mature animals (14 & 18 years old) and have been working together for 11 years, so they were certainly ready to work quietly and walk slowly enough to be effective with this precision tool.
After several years of thinking about and planning a concept design for a tool carrier that could handle our cultivation needs, we began to see the possibility of a horse drawn cultivating and implement tool carrier design based on a combination of several implements we either had on the farm or could use as inspiration for critical design functions for the tool to be successful.
In the Winter 2016 SFJ, we briefly noted equipment modifications to make fieldwork easier and safer for Eric as he recovered from a debilitating autoimmune disease. Thinking that these add-ons might be of interest to other teamsters, we decided to briefly describe the three we consider valuable now that Eric has regained most of his strength and balance.
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.
The history and development of the new Pioneer Cultivator started in 2009 through a Horse Progress Days connection with two young men, Jelmer Albada and Ties Ruigrok from Netherlands. Both young men spent a few months working on local Amish farms to learn about animal husbandry and soil fertility. Jelmer returned to Horse Progress Days in 2012 with a presentation on shallow tillage practices that are gaining popularity in Europe and South America. Shallow Tillage originated in Europe where environmental regulations are much stricter than in America – thrusting them in the forefront of organic weed control. “But how is that possible?” was the question asked by many when they saw the pictures of Jelmer cultivating numerous rows of vegetables with a single horse.
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.”
Within true horse-power circles, where natural partnerships with working animals are embraced and cherished, the family unit is paramount. Tools are being designed today so that a husband and wife with two to four work animals can see their work done. Scale is a defining aspect, going forward and backward. It is liberating and it is enlivening. Elegant even. And for us, we see the evidence both from afar and up close. Now to focus on what 25 years has taught us.
A hallmark of the Pioneer Equipment system has been their superb, field-tested engineering coupled with production-line planning which has resulted, repeatedly, in affordable, durable implements sold now ‘round the world. But I must hazard to offer that ahead of even that, has been vision. Wayne saw a need and a possibility when many, back then in the 70’s and 80’s, saw little or none.