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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 Snare Thoughts Caught and Offered Up

The Snare Thoughts Caught and Offered Up

The Snare – Thoughts Caught and Offered Up

by Lynn R. Miller of Sisters, OR

GIVE US THIS DAY

As farmers we must continue to take charge of our own lives, work, environs and future. Our example will win out. There is no other example with the heart and capability to win out. Leadership in its most ideal form is ultimately gardening. Governance in its best form is stewardship. And husbandry is the sane substitution for bureaucracy. Our leaders should be planning and planting and suggesting seed options. Our governors should be showing us how to make rules and regulations transparent and, in the main, unrestrictive. Our bureaucrats need to be ridiculously helpful to each and every citizen that crosses their path. Every one with gainful work and every job met with enthusiasm. No one hungry. No one kept from their own life without accepted cause. And justice always coming before the rule of law. Every disease a grounds for holiday. Every child allowed to work. Every adult allowed to play. And every old age a comfort to many.

The Snare Thoughts Caught and Offered Up

RETURN US THIS DAY

We may be out in the field thinning the carrots or raking the hay but the news and smell of these days still gets to us. Leaking out around the edges of the entertainment news focus and celebrity rhumba line, we learn every day of the rapidly expanding discontent of an enormous chunk of America. Many people have lost sight of who they are, stripped as they have been of gainful employment and positive community identification. And this loss of identity and self respect has stripped so many of our best selves down to raw bone making us susceptible to the bizarre lies and machinations of dead-hearted politicians of every party and stripe. An echo chamber of violence and horror fuels the stupidities. And we are right in wondering what is becoming of our society.

Starting at the local levels, where the very best of our society still works day by day to maintain respectful decency and social cleanliness, we need to grow our leadership class until it oozes out to the national stage. We need to restore capitalism in a return to openness, fairness and true competition. We need restoration of the humane to humanity. Good farming continues as one outstanding model forward.

The Snare Thoughts Caught and Offered Up

WE ARE IN THESE DAYS

The world is getting larger and larger and our scope of useful, vital attention gets smaller. I am not thinking of Uruguay or Rhodesia or Denmark or Mongolia – We are farming right here in our defined microclimate and watershed at the convergence of the bottom edge of the Columbia basin with the tail feathers of the Cascade mountains and the wash of the great basin. It is our fluffed NW version of the high desert.

We don’t think about the full-time visitors to the region, the campers and ‘outdoorsmen’ in search of definable, disposable elations. We think about the neighbors who are each and every one working right this minute to add small increments of gain and decorate the inevitable pains of living here – all of us hopefully with the intent observations that reward with appreciation.

As the farming focuses intensely on the near: today’s growth of the barley and regrowth of alfalfa, the push coming with the late planted potatoes, the crazy increase in wild rabbits and gophers though the coyotes are everywhere, the behaviors of the irrigation water, the unusual gentleness of the weather, the worries over harvest and the mounting bills to pay – we live and observe right here.

Nature for our immediate region seems somewhat asleep for the time of the year, weather has been moderate and perfect. No storms in 30 days. Very few insects, two earwigs when there would have been hundreds in the past, a couple dozen flies where there have been thousands, no mosquitos though we live on the edge of a pond, even frogs have thinned. In years past, summer evenings we would sit on the porch and watch the nighthawks and bats – none now. One nesting pair of wild mallards, no Cinnamon Teals this year, no wild geese. So far only one Bald Eagle, last summer we had five distinctly different Eagles. I did see a magnificent Goshawk swooping low over the hay field a month ago. The elk are the exception, returning early and in force, over a hundred head in the irrigated ground at night, the herd swells to over three hundred.

So our biological universe shifts and us in it. We are charged with being the best soft examples of natural world citizenry. Observe, record, and take greater care with every step.

– Lynn Miller

Spotlight On: Livestock

Changing of Seasons

LittleField Notes: Changing of Seasons

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We are blessed who are active participants in the life of soil and weather, crops and critters, living a life grounded in seasonal change. This talk of human connection to land and season is not just the rambling romantic musing of an agrarian ideologue. It is rather the result of participating in the deeply vital vocation that is farming and knowing its fruits first hand.

Interpreting Your Horse's Body Language

Interpreting Your Horse’s Body Language

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The person who works closely with horses usually develops an intuitive feel for their well-being, and is able to sense when one of them is sick, by picking up the subtle clues from the horse’s body language. A good rider can tell when his mount is having an off day, just by small differences in how the horse travels or carries himself, or responds to things happening around him. And when at rest, in stall or pasture, the horse can also give you clues as to his mental and physical state.

Livestock and Predators No Easy Answers

Livestock and Predators: No Easy Answers

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Since we’ve raised sheep commercially, we’ve been committed to trying to live with the predators in our environment. Over the years, we’ve lost just a handful of sheep — several to coyotes, at least one each to mountain lions and rattlesnakes, and four in one night to a neighbor’s dog. Mostly, though, our commitment to nonlethal predator protection tools has worked. A combination of electric fencing, livestock guardian dogs, sheep selection and grazing management has allowed us to co-exist with the predators in our environment.

Training Workhorses Training Teamsters Driving Junipers Training

Driving: Juniper’s Training

A final sneak peak at the Second Edition of Lynn R. Miller’s “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.” Today’s excerpt, “Driving: Juniper’s Training,” is from Chapter 11, “Starting and Training Older Horses.”

A Year of Contract Grazing

A Year of Contract Grazing

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Contract grazing involves the use of livestock to control specific undesirable plants, primarily for ecological restoration and wildfire prevention purposes. The landowners we worked for saw grazing as an ecologically friendly alternative to mowing, mechanical brush removal, and herbicide application.

The Milk and Human Kindness Part 1

The Milk and Human Kindness

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I know what it’s like to be trying to find one’s way learning skills without a much needed teacher or experienced advisor. I made a lot of cheese for the pigs and chickens in the beginning and shed many a tear. I want you to know that the skills you will need are within your reach, and that I will spell it all out for you as best I can. I hope it’s the next best thing to welcoming you personally at my kitchen door and actually getting to work together.

Horseshoeing Part 4B

Horseshoeing Part 4B

Forging is that defect of the horse’s gait by reason of which, at a trot, he strikes the ends of the branches or the under surface of the front shoe with the toe of the hind shoe or hoof of the same side. Forging is unpleasant to hear and dangerous to the horse. It is liable to wound the heels of the forefeet, damages the toes or the coronet of the hind hoofs, and often pulls off the front shoes.

My First Team of Workhorses

My First Team of Workhorses

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In A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses, a greenhorn (myself) tried a single work horse named Lady for farm and woods work. It was probably natural that, having acquired some experience with one horse, I should want to see what it was like to use two. Perhaps it is more exciting to see a good team pull together, and there is the added challenge to the teamster of making certain that the horses pull smoothly rather than seesaw.

Words for the Novice Teamster

Words for the Novice Teamster

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Many people who are new to the world of draft horses are intimidated by what seems to them to be a foreign language. This “workhorse language” can be frustrating for novices who would like to use draft horses, or who would just like to understand what people who do use them are talking about. The knowledge of some basic draft horse terminology can end most of the beginner’s confusion about the special jargon used in this trade.

Ask A Teamster Perfect Hitching Tension

Ask A Teamster: Perfect Hitching Tension

In my experience, determining how tight, or loose, to hook the traces when hitching a team can be a bit challenging for beginners. This is because a number of interdependent dynamics and variables between the pulling system and the holdback system must be considered, and because it’s ultimately a judgment call rather than a simple measurement or clear cut rule.

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

This is the account of how one farm put more horse power into the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of its potato crop. Ever since we began farming on our own in 1994 one of our principle aims has been the conversion of our farm operation to live horse power wherever feasible. This has meant replacing mechanized tools such as tractors and rototillers and figuring out how to reduce human labor as we expanded upon the labor capacity of our work horses.

American Milking Devons and the Flack Family Farm

American Milking Devons and the Flack Family Farm

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On a sunny early September day I met Doug Flack at his biodynamic and organic farm, just South of Enosburg Falls. Doug is an American Milking Devon breeder with some of the best uddered and well behaved animals I have seen in the breed. The animals are beautifully integrated into his small and diversified farm. His system of management seems to bring out the best in the animals and his enthusiasm for Devon cattle is contagious.

Developing Draft Colts

Developing Draft Colts

During October, 1910, The Pennsylvania State College and Experiment Station purchased a group of ten grade Belgian and Percheron colts and one pure bred Percheron for use in live stock judging classes. An accurate record of the initial cost, feeds consumed and changes in form has been kept in order that some definite information as to the cost of developing draft colts from weaning to maturity might be available for farmers, investigators and students.

Portable Poultry

Portable Poultry

An important feature of the range shelter described in this circular is that it is portable. Two men by inserting 2x4s through the holes located just below the roost supports and next to the center uprights can easily pick up and move it from one location to another. Frequent moving of the shelter prevents excessive accumulation of droppings in its vicinity which are a menace to the health of the birds. Better use will be made by the birds of the natural green feed produced on the range if the houses are moved often.

Icelandic Sheep

Icelandic Sheep

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I came to sheep farming from a background in the arts – with a passion for spinning and weaving. When we were able to leave our house in town to buy our small farm, a former dairy operation, I had no idea that the desire to have a couple of fiber animals would turn into full time shepherding. I had discovered Icelandic sheep, and was completely enamored of their beauty, their hardiness and their intelligence.

Work Horse Handbook

Grooming Work Horses

The serviceability of the work horse may be increased or decreased according to the care which is bestowed upon him. If he is groomed in a perfunctory fashion his efficiency as an animal motor is lessened. On the other hand, if he is well groomed he is snappier and fresher in appearance and is constantly up on the bit.

The Brabants Farm

The Brabants’ Farm

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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.

Littlefield Notes Making Your Horses Work For You Part 2

LittleField Notes: Making Your Horses Work For You Part 2

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Every beginning horse farmer at some point will find himself in need of procuring that first team. After land, this is certainly one of the most critical purchasing decisions you will make in the development of the farm. The animals you choose can make your farming glow and hum with moments of blissful certainty, or contribute to frustration, bewilderment, loss of resolve, and God forbid, horses and people hurt and machines wrecked.

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