Small Farmer's Journal

or Subscribe
The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

by A.J. Ogaard & H.E. Murdock, issued by the Extension Service of Montana State College, Circular No. 47, May 1921

This circular has been prepared to answer the ever increasing inquiries received regarding the construction and use of homemade tillage implements, designed for effective summer tillage. The breakdown of the continuous cropping system on the dry farms of Montana has created a timely although somewhat belated interest in summer tillage and intertilled crops. There is a demand and an urgent need for the dissemination of information with reference to the principles underlying successful summer tillage as well as some definite suggestions as to their application. The discussion presented regarding tillage practices is far from complete. Where the soil, climate and other factors vary to such an extent, it is difficult to make anything but rather general suggestions, leaving the details to the judgment and experience of the farmer himself.

The tillage requirements for the successful handling of summer fallowing, demanded the use of implements designed especially for the work. While the disk and the spike tooth harrows have their place, their use in summer tillage is often open to considerable objection from the standpoints of effective weed eradication and the control of soil blowing. Implement manufacturers are meeting the demands for a specialized implement with machines of merit. 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. This circular presents a description of a few of the types of such machines which can be constructed in the farm shop or by the local blacksmith at a normal cost.

Some Principles: The successful dry farmer must keep the purposes for which he is cultivating definitely in mind, while choosing or using any particular implement. The blind following of rules has no place on the dry farm. The problem may be considered from any or all of the four angles:

  1. Seed bed preparation.
  2. Moisture conservation.
  3. Weed eradication.
  4. Soil blowing control.

Seed Bed Preparation: While an ideal seed bed is not always attainable it is well to keep in mind what would constitute a reasonably good seed bed. There is ample opportunity for the capitalization of good judgment in its preparation. For small grains, it is important that there be provided proper conditions for germination of the seed and subsequent growth, before seeding, because very little can be done to correct a poor seed bed thereafter. This is not as important with intertilled crops like corn or potatoes for with them subsequent cultivation is possible. Even then the substitution of cultivation for seed bed preparation is generally poor economy. While other considerations like soil blowing may modify the kind of seed bed desirable, it is generally agreed that the ideal condition between the plowed layer and the subsoil should be close. Air spaces should be reduced to a minimum. The soil should be as free as possible from weed seeds. In any event, the grain should be given an equal chance by the killing of all weed growth immediately before seeding. Moisture should be available for germination at ht best seeding depth and this condition should continue into the subsoil.

Moisture Conservation: It is important that as much of the precipitation be absorbed by the soil as possible. The reduction of losses by “runoff” is essential. The so called “dust mulch” is not generally efficient in this respect, especially on the heavier clay soils. A rigid, slightly lumpy surface will tend to hold the moisture sufficiently to allow the subsurface to absorb it, while a finely pulverized surface is apt to “puddle” and become almost waterproof.

Aside from the use of moisture by growing crops and weeds, we are concerned with the direct losses from the surface of the soil itself. The farmer probably overestimates the losses from the subsurface through direct evaporation. There is no question that a soil mulch does aid in preventing losses of water but ordinarily cultivation for the sole and only purpose of maintaining a mulch, dissipates as much moisture as is saved. (This statement apples to average dry land conditions.) An exception to this must be made on heavy soils which upon drying are apt to check badly. On our gumbo lands, deep cracks are invariably the rule as the soil dries. The inevitable losses of moisture through circulation of air within these cracks, should be controlled by cultivation. Ordinarily, however, it has been found that under dry land conditions, where there is an absence of free water table within a reasonable depth, the control of weeds is a more important function of cultivation than the maintenance of mulch.

SmallFarmersJournal.com is a live, ever-changing subscription website. To gain access to all the content on this site, subscribe for just $5 per month. If you are not completely satisfied, cancel at any time. Here at your own convenience you can access past articles from Small Farmer's Journal's first forty years and all of the brand new content of new issues. You will also find posts of complete equipment manuals, a wide assortment of valuable ads, a vibrant events calendar, and up to the minute small farm news bulletins. The site features weather forecasts for your own area, moon phase calendaring for farm decisions, recipes, and loads of miscellaneous information.

Spotlight On: Livestock

Happs Plowing A Chance to Share

Happ’s Plowing: A Chance to Share

by:
from issue:

Dinnertime rolled around before we could get people and horses off the field so that results of judging could be announced. I learned a lot that day, one thing being that people were there to share; not many took the competition side of the competition very seriously. Don Anderson of Toledo, WA was our judge — with a tough job handed to him. Everyone was helping each other so he had to really stay on his toes to know who had done what on the various plots.

Black Pigs and Speckled Beans

Black Pigs & Speckled Beans

by:
from issue:

As country pigs go the Large Blacks are superb. They are true grazing pigs, thriving on grass and respectful of fences. Protected from sunburn by their dark skin and hair they are tolerant of heat and cold and do well even in rugged conditions. Having retained valuable instincts, the sows are naturally careful, dedicated, and able mothers. The boars I’ve seen are friendly and docile.

A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses

A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses

by:
from issue:

We have tried a workhorse, and for our needs he has proven quite satisfactory as well as satisfying to use. Thus we feel it is possible for someone with little or no experience to learn to care for and use a horse or a team for farm and woods work, although, obviously, this is not a process to be undertaken lightly. One of the basic aims of the farm operation for us is self-sufficiency, and we thought that the horse would be more efficient than a tractor in achieving this aim.

Mule Powered Wrecker Service

Mule Drawn Wrecker Service

This will only add fuel to those late night discoursians about the relative merits of horses over mules or viciversy. Is the horse the smarter one for hitching a ride or is the mule the smarter one for recognizing the political opportunity which this all represents? In any event these boys know what they are doing, or should, so don’t try this at home without horse tranquilizers. Remember that politics is a luke warm bowl of thin soup.

Horse Labor Instead of Tractors

Horse Labor Instead of Tractors

by:
from issue:

Three different parcels of land were committed for a series of tests to directly compare the impact of tractors and horses on the land. One side of each parcel was worked only with horses and the other only with tractors. There were measurable differences between each side of the worked areas; the land’s capacity to hold water and greater aeration were up to 45cm higher in areas worked by horses as opposed to tractors.

Chicken

The Best Chicken Pie Ever

by:
from issue:

She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

Walsh No Buckle Harness

from issue:

When first you become familiar with North American working harness you might come to the erroneous conclusion that, except for minor style variations, all harnesses are much the same. While quality and material issues are accounting for substantive differences in the modern harness, there were also interesting and important variations back in the early twentieth century which many of us today either have forgotten or never knew about. Perhaps the most significant example is the Walsh No Buckle Harness.

Ask A Teamster Hauling Horses

Ask A Teamster: Hauling Horses

For a claustrophobic animal like the horse, being confined to a small box while speeding down the highway at 60 miles per hour is a mighty unnatural experience. Luckily, equines are adaptable animals and are likely to arrive in good condition – if – you make preparations beforehand and take some precautions. Here are some tips to help your horse stay healthy, safe, and comfortable while traveling.

Ask A Teamster Driving

Ask A Teamster: Driving

I have been questioned (even criticized) about my slow, gentle, repetitious approach “taking too much time” and all the little steps being unnecessary when one can simply “hitch ‘em tied back to a well-broke horse they can’t drag around, and just let ‘em figure it out on their own.” I try to give horses the same consideration I would like if someone was teaching me how to do something new and strange.

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster

The first step to a successful training session is to decide ahead of time what it is you wish to accomplish with your horse. In the wild the horses in a band require the strength of a lead horse. Your horse needs you to be that strong leader, but she can’t follow you if you don’t know where you want to go. On the other hand, we need to retain some space within ourselves for spontaneity to respond to the actual physical and mental state of our young horse on any given day.

Changing of Seasons

LittleField Notes: Changing of Seasons

by:
from issue:

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.

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

The Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association hosted their 50th Anniversary Plowing Match at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center in McMinnville, Oregon on April 9, 2016. Small Farmer’s Journal was lucky enough to attend and capture some of the action to share.

The Milk and Human Kindness Caring For The Pregnant Cow

The Milk and Human Kindness: Caring for the Pregnant Cow

by:
from issue:

Good cheese comes from happy milk and happy milk comes from contented cows. So for goodness sake, for the sake of goodness in our farming ways we need to keep contentment, happiness and harmony as primary principles of animal husbandry. The practical manifestations of our love and appreciation are what make a small farm. Above and beyond the significant requirements of housing, feed and water is the care of your cow’s emotional life, provide for her own fulfillment. Let her raise her calf!

Logging with Oxen in New Hampshire

Logging with Oxen in New Hampshire

by:
from issue:

I hear time and time again at the outset of each workshop, “I don’t know anything about working oxen.” And I say, “There is no more fun than being a beginner.” Myself and the staff get great pleasure in sharing our knowledge of working steers and oxen. For as long as there are those interested in working cattle, the men I mentioned early in this article will not be forgotten. I believe there will always be cattle worked on small farms and in the woods.

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.

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

We were inspired to try no-tilling vegetables into cover crops after attending the Groffs’ field day in 1996. No-tilling warm season vegetables has proved problematic at our site due to the mulch of cover crop residues keeping the soil too cool and attracting slugs. We thought that no-tilling garlic into this cover crop of oats and Canadian field peas might be the ticket as garlic seems to appreciate being mulched.

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.

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

by:
from issue:

Our farm, here in the center of New York State, consists of 101 acres, about 90 in grass, the rest some woods and swamp. It is inhabited by forty-six jersey cows, twelve breeding ace heifers, one bull, and because it is calving season — an increasing number of calves. Also, four Belgian mares and a couple of buggy horses. Last, and possibly least — the farmer, farmer’s wife, and five grown children.

Journal Guide