by Lynn R. Miller of Singing Horse Ranch
Yoder’s Produce is a market garden seeds and equipment supply company located in the heart of Ohio Amish country. Anyone serious about growing produce would benefit from reviewing this company’s catalog. They offer a wide assortment of seeds and tools.
For this issue we want to introduce their market garden implements. From the process of creating raised beds in fresh tilled earth all the way through to fertilizing, planting and spray applications, Yoder’s offers exceptional equipment. If you have any experience with working animals, one look at these tools will tell you they require smarts on your part, and the right animals.
Some years ago, I had the honor of assisting with the announcing chores at Horse Progress Days, the annual, rotational, trade fair and demonstration for animal-powered agriculture. And for each of those five years I watched and marveled at how a handful of small manufacturing companies demonstrated their outstanding appropriate technologies, geared primarily towards ground-drive applications. These were implements in some cases that required the quietest most courageous and patient of horses and mules imaginable. Here, slow precise forward movement was paramount and, because of the crazy sounds and sensations going on behind the team, courage and patience from the animals was critical.
Half a century ago, when I first got started with horse-farming, my experiences were raw, bulky, crude and unsophisticated. If I was able to make it back and forth across a field with two horses pulling a disc harrow it was a triumph. In the beginning, the idea of using those same two horses to do a slow, precise job with finesse, seemed absurd and beyond challenging. But with time, and years of daily work, I gradually began to see the depth and breadth of what was possible. Successful-repetition, the byword of advanced work horse training, resulted in horses that could do the slow walk as well as accepting motors, sprayers, and miscellaneous odd repeating sounds just behind and out of sight.
All of these observations and thoughts went through my mind when I first witnessed the Yoder’s Produce market garden implements demonstrated at HP Days. I asked myself, “Do I have horses that would accept these tools and this work? Maybe, but I won’t know ‘til I try.”
From my own experience I knew how I would go about testing the trustworthiness of the animals; I would back them in harness, up to the spray rig (for example), and while having the team well in hand I would have someone else lower the boom, start the motor and spray some water. If it is the first time, I would expect some level of apprehension from the horses so I would keep at it with reassurances. From my knowledge I would trust the assessment of whether or not the implement would cause a possible wreck.
People sometimes ask us how it is we have faith in the practicality of animal-powered agriculture for the 21st century. The thriving existence of companies like Yoder’s Produce, and tools like the amazing implements on these pages, make it plain to see.
At the very least we encourage you to call or write Yoder’s for a copy of their catalog, and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.