Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Equipment Category › Equipment › Forecart Question
- February 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm #82424
Hello again Teamsters,
I am doing research for a writing project on the subject of Market Gardening with horses. I am writing articles for Rural Heritage and Small Farmer’s Journal on horse-drawn implements and the systems that evolve around their use—with an eye towards eventually producing a 2nd book (1st one is THE NEW HORSE-POWERED FARM).
I am wondering if any of the horse-powered (or mule or oxen-powered) market gardeners—or anyone managing crops with draft animals—here could tell me about the use of forecarts on your farm? Might seem like an obvious question—but to new farmers or farmers transitioning to horse power it may not be. What models do folks prefer? Anyone have pictures or specs for a home-built cart. Anyone using 3 or 4-wheeled carts. And how about the new ground-drive models?
If you do write a response and don’t mind being quoted could you also include your name and the name and location (town, state or province) of your farm? If I do use your quote I’ll let you know where and when it will appear beforehand. It’s amazing to have this forum as a resource–I am grateful for all the great communication that happens here.
Thanks in advance! Stephen Leslie firstname.lastname@example.orgFebruary 10, 2014 at 8:32 am #82435
Thanks Stephen, I use forecarts for several tasks, and will write a response soon, but just wanted to reply now to get this on the board. Seems that many new posts are not as evident until someone replies.
CarlFebruary 10, 2014 at 10:29 am #82436
I have yet to use a forecart for anything in the market garden other than as a commuting vehicle. We use a Whitehorse with hand lever steering for plowing with a 2 gang trailer plow, seeding with a brillion seeder, culti-packing, or if we borrow a friends ground driven manure spreader. For haying Sam has an older very modified ground drive cart, it was originally an I & J. I can’t tell you much about the custom cart, I have only seen it used once.
Personally I would like to purchase a Barden style cart for a multitude of reasons that I gave on another post. If we buy a newer whitehorse or pioneer cart in the future it must have the torsion axles, our knees are not getting any younger. A Farm Boy 4 wheel power cart would be nice for baling if we ever win the lottery, which we won’t since we don’t play 🙂February 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm #82454
Hi Stephen, I use five forecarts on my farm. They are all homemade to one extent or another. As a self taught (read not very good) welder I can say making homemade forecarts is fun and productive. I have two plain forecarts (tongue, seat, railing, and hitch) for tedders, rakes, and manure spreaders. Both of these are completely homemade and to some extent have been salvaged and rebuilt from previous carts. One of these has a bench seat which is great for teaching; and the other has a tongue which is easy to move off center which is nice for three abreast.
When making a basic farm forecart use three pieces of 4″ channel facing down to frame your deck. if they are 18″ apart you can easily bolt your tongue in center, left or right. These carts also move hay wagons, poultry houses, weaned lambs, water haulers, and a firewood cart. You can’t have enough of these basic carts.
A good design might also have a basic log arch built into it. This could be achieved with a drop-in piece for your farm tow hitch.
Last year I built a small forecart with a 36″ wheel base and a truck type tow receiver. I have modified a potato plow to fit in this hitch and plan to make other bed marking tools and other things that will fit in this hitch. It would even be handy to have a little cart with the same 36″ wheel base for harvesting or spreading mulch etc.
I use a three wheeled, gas powered PTO cart for baling hay, and hopefully this year to pull a combine. It has worked well for me for several years, but if I were building or buying a new one I would stick with the two wheeled designs as mine is almost impossible to back up once hooked to anything. The 24 hp honda engine is quiet and efficient. I bale about 1,000 bales for every five gallons of gas.
For several years I have wanted a ground driven PTO cart and I have tried to build a couple. My first attempt was built on a #7 mower body and just wasn’t heavy enough to do everything I wanted it to do. It looked good until I challenged it with real farm conditions and then it just wasn’t what I wanted. Those that saw it will be glad to know that it is returning to the world of work this summer as a new one horse mower.
Last summer we held a Farm Hack (thanks, Greenhorns) on our farm and built a ground drive PTO Cart from an old Case tractor we took apart. This cart has been a great success. It pulls a tedder anywhere, anytime with four speeds to chose from. This summer at the Draft Animal Power Field Days we even pulled a baler with three horses. It was a long time coming, but it was fun and satisfying to build it on the farm.
You can find most all of these somewhere on my web album: Donn’s web album.February 12, 2014 at 10:19 pm #82472
Thanks for the responses. Carl, look forward to hearing your story on carts.
Thanks for the leads, Erika—I will look into the carts you mentioned.
Donn, awesome description of home-built carts—thank you!
On our farm we only have a basic Pioneer draft horse cart (with the tongue cut down from 13’ to 10’ to accommodate our Fjords (Pioneer now also makes a Haflinger-size cart which is lighter than the basic) but this one cart has proven to be an indispensable tool. Our horse-drawn spreader is a single-axle model and this alone would justify having the cart to tow it as we move as much as 70 tons of compost with it annually. In addition, we use it to hitch to such fundamental tillage implements as the disc, spike-tooth, spring-tooth, and flex harrows, and a harvest wagon. During hay making the horses lend a hoof by pulling a Grimm tedder and New Holland rake behind the cart.February 13, 2014 at 3:53 pm #82475
Often when working in larger fields a cart will not be used in front of the tillage tools as there is a loss of horse power used to pull the cart that can not be used to pull the harrow. In a small market garden application these factors may not have a big impact in what you can get done; but in working with several acres of gardens or grains, the same number of horses can pull a larger harrow or pull the smaller one farther. Without a cart you are left to walk behind the implement (make sure your lines are long enough). In some of the newer versions of these tools the teamster can sit right on them. While the horses work harder, at least the teamsters weight is being applied to the tools making them more effective.February 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm #82506
Your point is well-taken on riding vs, walking, Donn. I think you may have stated elsewhere on the forum that the weight of a forecart could be as much as half the draft when towing a disc harrow—and the teamsters weight is not adding anything to the effectiveness of the harrows. The other factor of course, is that riding in front of the forecart places the teamster in a more vulnerable position in front of whatever is being towed. A couple of years ago it was such a mild fall that I was able to plow into December. I went out to disc one morning not realizing how cold it had been overnite. Once we got into the field with the disc behind the cart it became obvious that some of the furrows were frozen and I was getting a bumpy ride. While trying to get off the field again I got bounced right out of my seat and landed in a sitting position between the cart wheel and the discs. Fortunately, I still had the lines and the team had stopped as soon as they felt the tension on the lines from me falling off—could’ve ended badly though.
The problem I have is that my old HD disc did not come with a truck and I had way too much side-to-side shimmy on it–to the point where it was whacking the horses legs. Essentially, I am using the forecart as a giant tongue truck just to make it safer to use the tool.
I also found myself pulling other drag harrows on the cart last summer because I was integrating two green broke horses into field work and I find that, once they are reasonable on the cart, I actually feel more confident at that stage taking them out on a wheeled vehicle rather than walking behind them over rough ground. It seems pretty clear though, that the most efficient use of horse power with the drag harrows is to wak behind them.February 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm #82508
I am not one to suggest there is only one way to do something. There are potential mishaps walking behind a harrow as well. There used to be a harrow cart which provided wheels and a seat, but you sat right behind the harrow. Another nice set up you don’t see as often today. After a mishap towing a disc last year while walking I built a wooden platform that made it so I could stand on it. It was a good four horse disc before and now you might say it is a five horse disc!February 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm #82509
Right you are, Donn—Pioneer has come out with a “re-issue” of that old-time harrow cart. I will paste a picture of Neal Perry demonstrating one at the DAPnet gathering at Perry Farm.March 10, 2014 at 7:57 am #82790
Hey Stephen great job.
My perspective on Forecarts has more to do with the implement than with the work of market gardening. I do use my fore cart with my disk, spring-tooth, and drag harrows, more for comfort and safety than for functionality. The tires do tend to compact soil when harrowing, but then again so do the hooves. I do find some functional advantage to hitching into one piece of equipment then merely using draw pins when I need to disconnect, or connect, to a different implement. Also considering the small scale of our gardening operation, it allows me to prepare for other work, like logging, or spreading manure, and diversifying the daily enterprises without complicated hitching exercises.
For me the safety and comfort of using a fore cart plays the biggest role. I also happen to use a cart made by Les Barden of Farmington, NH, which has a “chariot” design, so that stepping on and off is extremely easy and safe. The Barden cart tends to shine for its log hitching design, but there is also a receiver hitch on the back for a draw-bar attachment. I can pull a wide array of implements from that draw-bar.
Being able to step on an off easily, to stand comfortably for balance during motion, and to have tool carrying capacity brings significant advantage to the undertaking. I feel strongly that a comfortable and safe teamster with increased functionality is on the best road toward the high level of leadership required to make draft animal power most effective.
CarlMarch 12, 2014 at 3:17 am #82814
One and a half years ago I invested in the Pioneer basic draft horse forecart. A rather big investment since we europeans pay twice the price due to shipping costs. But I preferred it over the european models for simplicity of design, sturdiness and versatility. Almost all european forecarts are for single horse use only.
I use the cart almost exclusively for hauling manure, hay, firewood and produce. I found out it’s easier in our small market garden to hitch directly to an implement then to use the forecart. The reason is turning at the end of the rows.
For hauling it’s perfect, alltough a little heavy for the single horse. In fact a little very steep hill between the house and the gardens limits the weight I can carry.
On the technical I found out that its very important for your back to have the proper length of seat stem. I am rather tall and had to fabricate a larger one to be comfortable. Furthermore if you work long hours be sure your seat is in the middle, on bumpy roads you will hurt your back by sitting off balance between the wheels.
I strongly recommend a tool case!March 12, 2014 at 7:53 am #82815
Great info from everyone here. Good also to have a clear simple description of the Barden cart. Jeroen—nice to have a description of use of the Pioneer cart with a single. We bought a second seat for our cart for having novice teamsters do ride-alongs and it was angled differently from the original so that a person ends up riding a lot lower, too low for me at 6′ tall—I wonder if that’s the same seat they sent you.
Also, I wasn’t quite clear what you meant in the following: “Furthermore if you work long hours be sure your seat is in the middle, on bumpy roads you will hurt your back by sitting off balance between the wheels.” Do you mean that it is best to keep the seat always in the middle pipe bracket or that the seat wasn’t staying in position and angling off to one side or another while you were working on bumpy roads?March 12, 2014 at 9:29 am #82818
The two original seats were not high enough for me, so I took a longer U beam same size and welded a longer piece, then drilled holes for the spring and fixation piece and the seat and now I have a 5″ higher seat than the original.
I worked several days with two seats on and sat on the right one (too lazy to change the setup). On bumpy roads you get differents shocks from left and right and this hurts a back. So I only use the middle position and if I need someone along I put an original (lower) seat in the left pipe bracket offset and stay in the middle position myself.
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