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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

The Milk and Human Kindness Stanchion Floor

The Milk and Human Kindness: Plans for an Old Style Wooden Stanchion Floor

by Suzanne Lupien of Thetford Center, VT

A sunny dry milking stall is enormously important for you and your cow, and constructing an old fashioned wooden floor, manger and stanchion frame needn’t be expensive, difficult or very time consuming. I much prefer wood to concrete, and so does your cow. Standing on concrete is one of the numerous hardships of being a modern cow. A system made entirely of wood, preferably wood from your own farm, provides gentle comfort for your cow, in stark contrast to the clanging of steel and the harshness of concrete. So here you have a simple outline of how to build your own, dimensions for a jersey or other small cow. Sturdy, simple, practical plans.

The basic needs that we are addressing here are as follows: To create a sunny, airy (not drafty), dry, convenient, accessible place to bring in our cow or cows, with or without calves, to be comfortably and easily secured for milking and other purposes such as vet checks, AI breeding, etc. where both you and your cow feel secure and content. A place that is functional, clean, warm and inviting in every way. There will be dozens of instances beyond the daily milking where the “tie-up” will be extremely useful. Indeed, I’ve wondered time and again what I would do without it.

I will describe to you the tie-up at my old farm which was perfect in every way from my point of view, summer and winter. Then I will focus on the construction plan. From this you will be able to build your own. Finally I’ll address stanchion hardware.

The eight cow tie-up at Goodrich 4 Corners was built into the east side of the early (1789) English barn hewn from hemlock and chestnut, and set on the customary dry stone foundation. Because it had to be built into the existing timber frame with its own proportional and structural constraints, the ceiling height is rather low, doorways quite low, requiring most adults to bend when crossing the threshold.

It was a long rectangular room running the length of the gable end of the barn which stood very close to the road. It was probably built around 1920, by a man skillfull with chisel and saw, and it was sheathed in tongue and groove pine, planed, the trim and detail better than many modern house interiors. Windows all along the outside wall, waist high, and white washed floor to ceiling, this white wash being renewed semi-annually in accordance with the law for cow houses in former times. It was thus, bathed in light. For the first four years I had that farm, Clayton Warner, the last whitewash man used to come and spray the barn for me – we’d spend a good two days sweeping and scraping it ready – he’d come over the mountain through Middlebury Gap, and he wasn’t hurrying, had an old Chevy truck with a tank of white wash on the back.

The cows stood with their heads toward the drive floor for feeding purposes; hence their backsides got the sun streaming in the windows by seven in the morning, a very good thing on frigid winter days. Each cow had her own manger, with partitions separating one manger from the next. This made for peaceful and equitable feeding. There were four tongue and groove bead board shutters running the full length of the drive floor side, hung horizontally, hinged at the bottom, folding down, waist height, to be opened for feeding and fresh air. Closed in cold weather, eight cows would raise the temperature considerably. There was an ingenious fresh air system built into the outside wall which brought fresh air from outside and sent the stale air up and out through a wooden shaft. This contributed greatly to the cow’s well-being. Being cooped up like that was unavoidable in a harsh New England winter in former times, and that could be deadly for a cow’s respiratory system.

The deck upon which the cows stood was planked with heavy hemlock planking, a good two inches or better, the planks laid in the direction the deck would be scraped clean, and this deck was pitched very slightly toward the wooden gutter behind the cows, and this gutter was also pitched just a little so the urine would collect down at the end where presumably the wheelbarrow stood at cleaning time. Behind the gutter was a wooden walkway, boarded in the direction of cow travel, lengthways which again made for easy cleaning.

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Spotlight On: Book Reviews

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

From humor-filled stories of a life of farming to incisive examinations of food safety, from magical moments of the re-enchantment of agriculture to the benches we would use for the sharpening of our tools, Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows offers a full meal of thought and reflection.

Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing

Setting Up A Walking Plow

Here is a peek into the pages of Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing, written by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller.

Timing the Bounce

Timing the Bounce: Resilient Agriculture Meets Climate Change

by:
from issue:

In her new book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, Laura Lengnick assumes a dispassionate, businesslike tone and sets about exploring the farming strategies of twenty-seven award-winning farmers in six regions of the continental United States. Her approach gets well past denial and business-as-usual, to see what can be done, which strategies are being tried, and how well they are working.

Making Buttermilk

The Small-Scale Dairy

What kind of milk animal would best suit your needs? For barnyard matchmaking to be a success, you need to address several concerns.

Old Man Farming

Spinning Ladders

You die off by passing away. You live on by passing on. I want to pass the culture of my life on slowly, over the ripening time of my best years.

Barbed Wire History and Varieties

Book Excerpt: The invention of barb wire was the most important event in the solution of the fence problem. The question of providing fencing material had become serious, even in the timbered portions of the country, while the great prairie region was almost wholly without resource, save the slow and expensive process of hedging. At this juncture came barb wire, which was at once seen to make a cheap, effective, and durable fence, rapidly built and easily moved.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 4

Assuming that you’ve found a farm you want to buy, next you’ll need to determine if you can buy it. If you have sold your property, and/or saved your money, and have the means to buy the farm you are sitting pretty. If you do not have the full price of a considered farm, in cash or any other form, you will likely have to look for financing.

Dont Eat the Seed Corn

Don’t Eat the Seed Corn: Strategies & Prospects for Human Survival

by:
from issue:

Gary Paul Nabhan’s book “WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine” (Island Press, 2009) is a weighty tome, freighted with implications. But as befits its subject it is also portable and travels well, a deft exploration of two trips around the world, that of the author following in the footsteps of a long-gone mentor he never met, the Russian pioneer botanist and geneticist Nikolay Vavilov (1887-1943).

Apples of North America

Freedom has been called the ugly duckling of disease-resistant apple varieties. But that shouldn’t detract from its many merits. These include the freedom from apple-scab infection for which it was named, a high rate of productivity, and an ability to serve as a good pollinator for its more attractive sibling, Liberty.

Aboard the Planetary Spaceship

Aboard the Planetary Spaceship

SFJ Spring 2016 Preview: Edward O. Wilson’s new book, Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, offers a plan for the problem of species extinction: the dominant species, man, must hold itself back, must relinquish half the earth’s surface to those endangered. It is a challenging and on the face of it improbable thought, expressed in a terse style. But his phrases are packed because the hour is late.

An Introduction To Grasslands Farming

From Dusty Shelves: A World War II era article on grassland farming.

Basic Blacksmithing Techniques

Illustrated guide to basic blacksmithing techniques, an excerpt from Blacksmithing: Basics For The Homestead.

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.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Work Horse Handbook

The Work Horse Handbook

The decision to depend on horses or mules in harness for farm work, logging, or highway work is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Aside from romantic notions of involvement in a picturesque scene, most of the considerations are serious.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 3

What goes with the sale? What does not? Do not assume the irrigation pipe and portable hen houses are selling. Find out if they go with the deal, and in writing.

Woodstove Cookery at Home on the Range

An Illustrated Guide To The Wood Fired Cookstove

Illustrated guide to the wood stove and it’s accoutrements.

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

Book Excerpt: The enclosed gear, late model John Deere, Case, Oliver, David Bradley, and McCormick Deering International mowers I (we) are so fond of had a zenith of popular manufacture and use that lasted just short of 25 years. Millions of farmers with millions of mowers, built to have a serviceable life of 100 plus years, all pushed into the fence rows. I say, it was far too short of a period.

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