The most populous single horse planting tools were made by Planet Junior. But they were by no means the only company producing these small farm gems. Most manufacturers included a few models and some, like Planet Junior, American and Cole specialized in the implement. What follows are fourteen different models from Cole’s, circa 1910, catalog. We published ten of these in volume 30 number three of Small Farmer’s Journal.
Going single did not occur to us until we began receiving questions from prospective teamsters who felt it would be more manageable and economical to get started with a single horse than a team. After 29 years of market gardening with two or more horses, our impetus to try out one-horse farming was not a question of management or economy, but due to the radically diverging horse temperaments on our farm.
If you look at most old photos of horses ploughing, certainly from the British Isles, most of them feature a pair of horses. If photographs had been invented before the 1860s there would have been a greater variety of hitches, with three abreast, three in line walking down the furrow, three yoked bodkin fashion, and fours hitched in line or in two pairs. In the middle of the 19th century there was a big movement to improve the function and decrease the draught of ploughs, so that on farms where four horse hitches were used, they might then manage with three or a pair. By the time photographs came more common in the early twentieth century, on all but the heaviest land two horses could pull the plough and this became the most common hitch. By comparison, images of a single horse pulling a plough are relatively rare; perhaps those who could only afford one horse could not afford to have their photograph taken either, but the big plough manufacturers in Britain all produced light ploughs for the single horse, or even for a pony, and there were many small holdings which only supported a single horse.
One day my stepfather brought over a magazine he had recently subscribed to. It was called Small Farmer’s Journal published by a guy named Lynn Miller. That issue had a short story about an old man that used a single small mule to garden and skid firewood with. I was totally fascinated with the prospect of having a horse and him earning his keep. It sorta seemed like having your cake and eating it too.