Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Working with Draft Animals › Ideas on starting to use a walking plow?
- April 2, 2010 at 1:01 am #41544Joshua KingsleyParticipant
After some thought and hesitation I got a used walking plow about a week ago. It is a #20 1878 2 horse walking plow. Now the thing is I am not sure how to go about actually using this plow. I had fiddled with an old side hill rollover walking plow once with my old gelding that I lost and now I am unsure as to where to start with a totally new (to me) plow and horses that I am sure have never even seen a plow in their lives.
So any good ideas on where to start?April 2, 2010 at 11:40 am #59148Michael ColbyParticipant
Some suggestions that helped me: Get Farmer Brown’s plowing video, attend this spring’s plowing matches, visit an experienced plowing teamster, get an experienced plowing teamster to visit you. If you’ve got a nice quiet team, you’ll be plowing in no time.April 2, 2010 at 3:01 pm #59156Tim HarriganParticipant
Those are good suggestions for understanding the mechanics of the plow and it will certainly be helpful if you can work with an experienced plowman. There are quite a few plow days around this time of year, make a point of visiting a few if you can. It is not clear based on your description how you have been using your team. I work with oxen and two of the things I would want to have confidence in are 1) are they prepared to pull the load created by the plow, and 2) do they understand what it means to follow the furrow. Plow draft can be highly variable so it is difficult to predict what normal plowing is in your area. If you have a 12 inch plow and run 6 or 7 inches deep the pull will typically be about 600 to 800 lbf. It is good to condition the team this early in the year for that level of effort. If you improve their condition by building up a load on a sled or stoneboat to 1500 to 2000 lbs they will be ready for plowing. That load with be about the same as the plow load. Also, the furrow-side horse will need an introduction to walking in the furrow. They will probably pick that up fairly quick, but respect that it is a new skill if they have not done it.April 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm #59155mstacyParticipant
There’s a plowing competition at the Billings Farm Museum in Wooddstock this spring (first weekend in May I believe). Oxen run on Saturday and horses on Sunday.
My situation is not that different from yours. I have a team of young steers and an ancient walking that I have no idea how to use.
MattApril 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm #59150near horseParticipant
I’m not very experienced with the walking plow but it seems that when starting out it might be a good idea to have 2 people involved – one driving the team and the other operating the plow. The few times I’ve used a walking plow, that’s how I was educated – you can focus on what you need to do with the plow ( or team) without having to also pay attention to the other component. Then you can work up to running the whole unit on your own.
Tim – don’t you need to use 2 people when plowing w/ oxen?April 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm #59151
Another idea for furrow training is to make an initial pass or two with a tractor or by an experienced team, it gives you and your horses something to follow. You could also practice driving with one horse in the furrow and one on land before you use the plow, that way they get a better idea of what is expected of them. It sounds like you are close to Billings I know that there are some good folks to watch that are very open to questions, I may try to make it there for the same reason.
Did you buy the plow from someone that had used it, is it something that no one can remember using? How wide is the share? How big are your animals? If you set the plow up on a board or level ground: A is there a gap between the bottom and the board? B what is the height between the board and the Bridle(where you hitch the clevis)? C If you eyeball the land side of the plow bottom, what angle does the beam take (veers left or right or more straight on)?
The answers to these questions would help determine if the plow is usable if the plow has not been used by the person that you purchased it from.
ErikaApril 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm #59158mitchmaineParticipant
hi joshua, i see plowing and plowing with horses as two separate skills. pretty complicated if you try them both together if your horses aren’t used to it. you might try shining up your plow, and like everyone says get experienced help, and maybe try pulling your plow with a small farm tractor. a nice easy straight pull, so you can just work on plow experience. then if you get a nice clean straight furrow, stop and work your horses in it just walking in that furrow til your off horse falls right into it. then try plowing like geoff recomended, with someone driving or plowing while you do the other. just a suggestion.
i love plowing. 10,000 years ago some guy tied a stick to his cow and scratched open a furrow, and here we are still doing the same thing. first time i tried it , it looked just like you tied a stick to a cow and dragged it in the dirt. good luck, mitchApril 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm #59157Tim HarriganParticipant
Those are all great suggestions. Geoff, yes, usually someone drives the ox team and another person plows. Not required though if you have a well trained team.April 2, 2010 at 5:55 pm #59152
I could get away with using a tractor to pull a walking plow when I lived on fine sandy loam, but where I live now I would have to be really selective about which ground I try this on. I have been warned by a mentor that Tractor+Walking Plow+Rocky Ground can easily = Broken Plow Point. Animals can feel the resistance of a rock and may stop, and can be trained to stop and slowly roll the rock out, tractors just keep going with or with out your plow point. I have not experienced this, but have been fairly warned.
ErikaApril 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm #59154Joshua KingsleyParticipant
I am in all sandy loam here. So trying the plow with a tractor or 4-wheeler is an option. The beam and all look straight to me which is why I bought it. Now I haveto put the new landslide and share I just got via UPS yesterday on and see what else I have to do. My haflingers are pretty hard from all the woods work and other stuff I have been working them on, though now that I look at the bottom I wonder if I should hook my suffolk up as well so that I can work 3 abrest.. That should be fun as they have never worked together and the suffolk has been off for the winter. The other issue with that is the haflingers are just over 13 hands and the suffolk is over 16. So angle of draft may be an issue.
I hope to try the plow behind somthing other than the horses this weekend and then possibly try the horses if everything is figured out.
JoshuaApril 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm #59153
There are differences in the angle of the beam meant for 2 horse work versus 3 horse work. I am totally open to correction on this one, but if memory serves me a 3 horse beam will angle towards the land side more than a 2 horse plow, if a right hand plow it will be left of straight from the working position perspective. It is possible to work it one way or another, just keep it in mind while trying to fine tune your team and plow. I believe that it is possible to ad shims to get a better angle to 3 horse on a 2 horse beam. I hope you keep us updated, it is always interesting to see what works for others.
After writing this I continued packing for my return to the Northeast and realized that I have had Mr. Miller’s Plow book with me this entire trip, oh well, but it does confirm my memory. A 3 horse plow is “landed” or bent toward the land side with up to a 3″ difference at the center of the beam. “The classic two horse plow has a wide range of adjustment for width of furrow so that three horses can be used with a two horse plow but the work will be less than satisfactory.” He goes on to recommend that you find the plow that is matched to the number of horses that you plan to use.
Personally, do what works for you, I am just thrilled that I remembered something correctly, not always easy for a blond of Polish decent 🙂
ErikaApril 3, 2010 at 2:34 am #59147Carl RussellModerator
It won’t hurt to practice driving your horses hands-free for a while.
CarlApril 3, 2010 at 8:37 am #59149jen judkinsParticipant
Joshua, Green Mountain Draft Horse is having a plowing bee at Shelburne Farms on the 17th. There is sure to be alot of different style plows there.
Also Ted Russell is not very far from you over in Sudbury. Best plowman I know and he loves to teach. I’ll be learning the walking plow from him on the 15th and 16th. I’ll PM his info to you. Jennifer.
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