Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › The Front Porch › Introductions › Small Farm, Small Horse, Big Dreams
- March 3, 2016 at 12:02 am #87921
Greetings from Iowa! I’m Kelly and I’m in the process of starting “Hoof Beet Farm”. The goal is a 25-30 share horse-powered low-input/carbon farming CSA, but this is the first year and I’ve got 9 half-shares and a few poultry orders and I’m still running a rototiller…
Anyway – the shares I sold this year gave me a little up-front capital to start realizing my goal of farming with horses. Well, horse for now. Pony, really. He’s a 13.2h quarter pony about 750lbs. He’s old, quiet, sound, fat, and in need of a job. He’s broke to pull an easy-entry type cart, but he’s never pulled any sort of heavy load.
I’ve got a bio harness with hames and collar ordered to replace his nylon pleasure harness, along with a steel singletree. I’m hoping to have a quick stoneboat/sled built by the time the harness gets here to start re-training. His first jobs will just be hauling stuff around for me, but I’d like to get a forecart and some other light equipment later this year or next year.
I’m having a hard time choosing a forecart, though, because of his in-between size. He’s a large pony, but smaller than most Haflingers. Any recommendations on forecarts would be appreciated. I do see myself eventually stepping up to a team of ponies his size or maybe even Hafs or Fjords, so a forecart that can go from shafts to a pole is imperative, and I’m wondering if the Haf size forecart from Pioneer would be okay for my boy, he’s about 64″ long, so I’m worried the 76″ shafts would be too long for him.
Once I get a forecart, I want to fabricate a scaled-down pony-size roller/crimper for him that I can tow behind the forecart to knock down a covercrop in the spring. From there I’m hoping to use something like the “All-in-One” tool with the ripper tooth to rip furrows to plant into.
But that’s my farm and my dreams, and for now, my self-funding hobby. My full-time job involves farming with historic implements and draft horses, so I’ve got about 3 years of team experience. I went to the University of New Hampshire and was lucky enough to take a class from Drew Conroy, and I’ve taken the horse and oxen driving class at Tiller’s International. I absolutely love the pace of farming with horses, the precision, the teamwork, the attention to detail, and the feeling of being in-tune with the land as you work it.
Anyway, that’s me and my hopes and dreams. I’m here to absorb and learn and help where I can! Here’s a picture of my pony doing some ground driving obstacle work a few years ago!
-Kelly & Red Irish aka Red aka PonyMarch 3, 2016 at 3:26 am #87924Mike RockParticipant
Get thee to Waverley! http://www.waverlysales.com/ You will see it all, horses and equipment and people to help.
SPRING 2016 – MARCH 29 through APRIL 1, 2016March 3, 2016 at 7:16 am #87925dominiquer60Moderator
Enjoy that pony, you will find all sorts of uses for him. I second the Waverly suggestion, it is on my bucket list.:)
ErikaMarch 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm #87932carl nyParticipant
After I sold my little ponies (got them back later on) I had a team of haflinger crosses about the size of yours. I think the haflinger forecart would be fine. I used mine on a full size cart as a team. JMHO
Carl nnyMarch 3, 2016 at 10:36 pm #87935
Thanks guys! I was hoping to make it up to Waverley on the Friday of the sale for the crosses, light teams, and ponies, but other forces had their way instead. Maybe in the fall…I had lots of teams I wanted to see though. I’m not ready to upgrade for at least a couple of years, but I want to witness the shear scale and spectacle of it all…
And Carl, thanks for the forecart advice! That’s what I was hoping to hear 🙂March 3, 2016 at 11:25 pm #87937
Hi Kelly, congratulations on the new horse and it’s nice to hear about your plans!
I was wondering what cover crop your thinking of crimping in the spring?
We have experimented some with crimping rye and vetch. Both with the large I&J roller crimper on a tractor and also, more successfully with a horse drawn disc harrow. If your ground isn’t perfectly smooth, the disc harrow can be more effective as it will conform to slight irregularities in the field, maintaining continuous contact between the disc blades and the crop stems for a successful crimp kill. Some challenges involved with those crops are knocking them down at the right time which in new england seems to be in mid – late june when they are flowering. Even so it can take several passes over multiple days to get a full kill. You may find that for your spring crops you would be better off mowing the crop and rototilling to prep. for any crops you hope the get in earlier than that. You could perhaps leave a section of standing cover crop to experiment rolling for fall crops?
We have also successfully experimented with ripping furrows into a rolled cover crop for min. tillage planting as you have mentioned. More so into peas and oats than anything else. Through winter killed pea and oat residues in the spring for early crops, and rolled down in october for garlic planting. In both cases we plant the cover crop onto ridges for guidance when it comes time to rip the furrows so that we can keep straight rows for cultivation sake. I would expect that it could be challenging to rip straight rows into residues with a single horse and no guidance system set up. Not that straight rows are totally necessary, especially if you plan to manage weeds by hand. The key for us has been to incorporate a rolling coulter in front of the ripper like you have mentioned and ripping in the same direction as the rolled crop. The ridges help because the soil is a bit more mellow and easy to work on top of them than it would be on a flat surface. Weight is an issue in this scenario and I would have some doubts about something like the all in one being heavy enough to work through very much residue. We mount our system on the McCormick riding cultivator and even so, I have to stand on the tool bar while driving the team to allow the coulter (which I keep very sharp!) to slice effectively. There is very little draft with this set up since we are really only ripping about 4 inches deep and the soil is actually sliced more than ripped. We are quite overpowered with our team to accomplish this task. Though the pair do play an important role in making this system work.
Anyway, I hope some of that might be helpful! I have found, through many frustrating scenarios, that our most successful and satisfying horse drawn, minimal tillage plantings happen after at least a full season of prep. with a clear design in mind for the end result. Even so, adaptation, creativity and flexibility are key! Good luck and have fun!March 3, 2016 at 11:28 pm #87938
Trying pictures again..March 3, 2016 at 11:29 pm #87940
rolling and ripping for last falls garlic plantingMarch 3, 2016 at 11:33 pm #87943
Looks like I wasn’t able to post pictures first try because their file sizes were too large. After editing them in photoshop they posted fine…March 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm #87954
I’m planning to do a full-tillage this spring on all my beds with the rototiller while I condition the pony on the sled. Then:
On the beds that will have early crops next year:
Fall plant tillage radish that will winterkill, don’t have to worry about rolling in the spring, ground hopefully won’t need much working in the spring.
On the beds that will have warm-season crops next year:
Overseed with oats toward the end of August, and let them grow while I finish out my harvests on those beds this year, then they’ll hopefully winterkill before going to seed, but if not I’ll mow them this fall so they don’t re-seed themselves. Next spring I’ll see what needs to be done…whether they need rolled down (I suspect they will) despite being dead, or if I can just run a disc through to break up the mulch a bit before ripping furrows.
You’ve been very helpful, indeed. Confirms a lot of what I’ve been planning to do, gives me some great new ideas. There’s a lot of garbage in the woods at my place that the people before me left behind, but there have been a handful of gems in there, too. I’ve got a part of a disc harrow that’s maybe 5-6′ wide, a spike-tooth harrow section about 4′ wide, and there’s actually a small, maybe 3-4′ wide, concrete roller out there, too. I’m hoping with some creativity and some of these bits and pieces, I’ll be able to put together a few tools scaled to the size I need. I really like the ripper setup you’ve got! Thanks for the pictures and ideas!March 8, 2016 at 7:55 pm #87995CanoeTomahParticipant
Kelly my sons morgan mare around 14 hands works the haflinger size forcart well.
You might have to do a little adjustment on the shaft length.March 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm #87996
The weather has been unseasonably warm here – 70s yesterday and today both. It’s got me antsy to get working. The harness is being made now, so hopefully I’ll have it here soon. In the meantime I started refreshing the pony. It’s been about 5 years since he’s been driven, but he’s a good quiet boy with an excellent memory, thankfully. I found a PNW Extension publication with a diagram for training poles that would work with the pleasure harness I have to at least start desensitizing him to the sensation of something dragging behind him on the ground, since he’s only used to pulling 2-wheeled pleasure carts.
I built one quickly, though I’m pretty sure I need to move the cross brace back on the poles a bit…they seem a little short in front…I don’t have a picture from the side though. He was great with the dragging sensation, didn’t miss a beat. I walked him with a halter and lead rope for a few rounds before putting the bridle on and driving with the lines. We drove like this for about 30 minutes before I gave him a handful of grain (a HUGE treat for a fat pony who’s been on a hay-only diet for years) and brushed him down.
I’ve learned in my time around the drafts at work that the time you spend on the ground brushing and building that comfortable relationship is time well spent and can’t be overlooked. What animal would want to work for a handler who only comes out to toss on a harness and send them to work for a bit (maybe a long bit) before tossing them back in the pen with hardly a thankyouverymuch. Even though I’ve had this pony for about 15 years (I got him as a barely-green-broke 2 1/2 year old), I feel like I need to reinforce that relationship even more now that I’m going to be asking him to work for me rather than just using him for pleasure.
-Kelly & Red
- This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Hoof Beet Farm.
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