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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 PST

Work Horse Handbook

The latest revised edition of the Work Horse Handbook is here! Since it was first published in 1980, this 386 page authoritative text, with it’s nearly 1,000 illustrations, has assisted beginner and experienced teamsters worldwide. This book is the ultimate owner/operator manual for working draft horses and mules in fields, forests, and fancy carriage operations.  Here is a peek into its pages.

Work Horse Handbook

The Introduction:
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. This is not to suggest that the romantic notion is frivolous or in any way detrimental as part of the entire commitment. Quite the contrary; the prevailing motivation behind a majority of good practicing horse farmers today seems to be just that notion. They are attracted to the romance of the system. Whatever the nature of the attraction is must be tempered by consideration of all the practical questions related to “Why use horses?” Without a careful and clear view of the practical aspects, a person new to the business could very well find himself of herself in either a dangerous, humiliating, confusing, or discouraging situation. (It’s likely to be a combination of all four.) Make the choice carefully.

Work Horse Handbook

On Shoulders and the Angle of Draft:

Natural Shoulder Angle:
The natural angle of the shoulder and pastern should be the same. When these corresponding angles form ninety degree measures, as illustrated, the ‘push-to-pull action in harness is most efficient and effective. Perhaps even more important is the apparent fact that, all other physiological aspects being equal, these angles translate to greatest comfort for the working horse. The only step we may take to affect these actions, positively or negatively, would be to drastically alter the pastern angle through the angle of the hoof. (see Anatomy chapter)

Collar on the Shoulder:
Illustrating how the padded-collar relates to the skeletal structure of the horse. The point of draft, that being exactly where the tug to hame connection rests on the line of the shoulder, is critical to the working comfort of the horse. If it is too low, a sore shoulder results. If it is too high, it is difficult for the horse to pull. Collars are designed to seat and pad the tug-to-hame connection at their widest part (or the ‘draft’ of the collar). The ‘tug-to-hame’ connection is more important than the actual position of the draft collar.

Work Horse Handbook

On Learning:
The single most important input with cost is working experience. In other words, BEFORE you can make working horses a comfortable reliable operating scheme for your farm, you must acquire the necessary skill level. It comes from watching, learning, experience, and curiosity. And acquiring the skill of a full-fledged farm teamster will cost- time, sweat, adversity, anxiety, and perhaps money. Remember, if you owned a team of young draft mares magically-tomorrow-you would not be able to realize their full value to you without first having the skill to use them properly. This is the single biggest reason we don’t have a flood of new horse farmers all across the countryside. It’s not because it’s impractical. It’s because it takes commitment and work to develop skill and craftsmanship. But once you have, it is yours for life.

Work Horse Handbook

This fantastic narrative guide to the art and science of working draft horses and mules was written by Small Farmer’s Journal editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller.

Spotlight On: People

A Small Good Thing

A Small Good Thing

We shared this video a while back, and now it has been released on Netflix. Check it out! — “A Small Good Thing” explores how the American Dream has reached its end and how for most of us, greater material wealth and upward mobility are no longer possible. To find out what is taking its place, this feature documentary follows six people in one community who have recast their lives so they can live with a sense of meaning.

Central Oregon Locavore Online Fundraiser

CENTRAL OREGON LOCAVORE NEEDS YOUR HELP! We at SFJ can relate.  Central Oregon Locavore is running a GoFundMe campaign, similar to our Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.  Follow the links to learn more about Locavore and to show your support. www.centraloregonlocavore.org www.gofundme.com/locavore Central Oregon Locavore works for an ecologically stable and socially just food system […]

Great Oregon Steam Up

Great Oregon Steam-Up

by:
from issue:

I went to the Great Oregon Steam-Up over in Brooks, Oregon, near Salem. Lynn has been invited and has wanted to attend for years, but this time of year might very well be the busiest time of year for him. He’s always farming or writing or editing or painting or forecasting or businessing or just generally fightin’ the power, yo. It’s nuts, I don’t know how he does it all. So, when I told him I was going to go, he was very interested and wanted a good report.

LittleField Notes A Trip to the Auld Country

LittleField Notes: A Trip to the Auld Country

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I’ve come to the north of Scotland this October almost by accident. And I find myself standing on the windy, rocky point of land that is northernmost on the isle of Great Britain. The sea lies before me: the flooding tide from the Atlantic pours in on my left where it collides with the North Sea pouring in from the right, the opposing currents whipping up a frenzy of white capped, tidal confusion: for sailors past and present, treacherous waters indeed. Straight ahead, across the seething waters of Pentland Firth lie the Orkney Islands, my ultimate destination.

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 2

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 2

It is always fascinating and at times a little disconcerting to watch how seamlessly the macro-economics of trying to make a living as a farmer in such an out-of-balance society can morph us into shapes we never would have dreamed of when we were getting started. This year we will be putting in a refrigerated walk-in cooler which will allow us to put up more storage-share vegetables.

Farmrun John Erskine

John Erskine

John Erskine farms with horses in Sequim, WA.

Parasitic Experiences

Parasitic Experiences

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It all started with a sign. “We Have Worms.” It’s not complicated to make — I tore the cardboard box, handed it to Andy, and he wrote on it with a black magic marker and hung it in the store window. Everyone knows what it means, it means that if you’re not gonna go diggin’ for the earthworms yourself, you come in and and buy bait from him. It’s a seasonal sign; we scrap it every Autumn. No biggie.

NYFC Bootstrap Videos Clover Mead Farm

NYFC Bootstrap Videos: Clover Mead Farm

I couldn’t have been happier to collaborate with The National Young Farmers Coaltion again when they called up about being involved in their Bootstrap Blog Series. In 2013, all of their bloggers were young and beginning lady dairy farmers, and they invited us on board to consult and collaborate in the production of videos of each farmer contributor to the blog series.

Birth of a Farm

Birth of a Farm

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“Isn’t it nice?” I offer to my supper companions, “to see our beautiful horses right while we’re eating? I feel like I’m on a Kentucky horse farm, with rolling bluegrass vistas.” I sweep my arm dramatically towards the view, the rigged up electric fence, the lawn straggling down to the pond, the three horses, one of whom is relieving herself at the moment. “Oh, huh,” he answers. “I was thinking it was more like a cheesy bed and breakfast.”

Rainshadow Organics

Rainshadow Organics

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Saralee Lawrence and Ashanti Samuels are Rainshadow Organics, a burgeoning, certified organic operation which fully embraces the tenets of mixed crop and livestock farming. At its core is a full-force market garden. The entire farm comprises one hundred and eighty acres situated in the magnificent, high desert region of central Oregon and subject to a painfully short growing season (some years just slightly over 2 months).

Central Oregon Food and Farms

Central Oregon Food and Farms

Who is growing food in the high desert? How can you find it? And how can you contribute to creating a vibrant local food community in Central Oregon? Find out here! By consuming more Central Oregon grown food we keep money in our region, support local businesses, and have delicious, fresh food to eat.

To Market, To Market, To Buy A Fat Pig

Within so-called alternative agriculture circles there are turf wars abrew

Carriage Hill Farm

Carriage Hill Farm: Crown Jewel of Parks

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“Thank you for taking the time to visit our farm.” This is one of the responses that I give to the many visitors as they prepare to leave Carriage Hill Farm, an historical farm which is part of a much larger system of 24 parks within the Five Rivers Metroparks system. The main emphasis of our farm is education and interpretation of an 1880’s family farm with all the equipment and animals from the 1880’s time period.

Farmrun A Reverence for Excellence

A Reverence for Excellence

A portrait of Maple Rock Farm and Hogstone’s Wood Oven, a unique farm and restaurant on Orcas Island where the farmers are the chefs, A Reverence for Excellence strives to be an honest portrayal of the patience, toil, conviction and faith required of an agrarian livelihood.

The Value of What You Grow

The Value of What You Grow

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There is a lot of value in the produce you sell that contrasts it from what someone can buy at the grocery store. First, you probably sell varieties that are different from what the grocery store sells. As you’ve probably tried dozens of different varieties, you can let the customer know why yours are different. Be brief and talk about things like taste and texture that are easy to get across.

Rope Tricks

a short piece on rope tricks from the 20th anniversary Small Farmer’s Journal.

A Bad Day in Harmony

A Bad Day in Harmony

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Gary, hoping that that was the lot, revved up the big yellow machine in eager anticipation but once again I called a halt and disappeared in the direction of the house. When I reappeared at the graveside holding a dead cat by the tail Gary shut the machine down completely, remained totally silent for what seemed like a long time, and then leaned out of the cab and with a look of mock concern on his face said in his dry manner, “Where did you say the wife and kids are?”

Cuban Agriculture

Cuban Agriculture

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In December of 1979, Mary Jo and I spent two weeks traveling in Cuba on a “Farmer’s Tour of Cuba”. The tour was a first of its kind. It was organized in the U.S. by farmers, was made up of U.S. farmers and agriculturally oriented folks, and was sponsored in Cuba by A.N.A.P., the National Association of Independent Farmers. As we learned about farming we also learned how the individuals, farms, and communities we visited fit into the greater social and economic structure of Cuba.

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