Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Horses › Traveling the road to work
- November 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm #81615Brad JohnsonParticipant
I have a small field that we use to pasture beef during the summer months. It is located about 7 miles from our farm, dirt roads almost all the way. I put a load of manure down there last fall, and it was time to get it spread. Lacking a flat bed trailer to move the spreader, I decided to walk the horses down there on the cart with the spreader in tow. Having called the VT state police to check about legal issues of being on the road with this rig, we set off at about 7:30 AM. The route is one I have driven many, many times, but I was amazed at how different it felt to be on the road on the cart. When I was freed from concentrating on driving the truck, I had time to really observe the world around us. How interesting this was to really see the ground we were rolling over. Not to mention that I was able to stop and visit with numerous folks along the way, something that does not normally happen with I drive the truck. Drivers were kind and courteous, and seemed to appreciate what we were doing. The walk took us more than two hours, but I really enjoyed the trip (as did the horses). With the help of a tractor bucket at the field, we got the manure spread, but my team was too tired to lug the spreader back home. So, we left it there in the field to pick up later and turned towards home with the cart. We had the perfect commute home, with warm November sun on our backs and little traffic. Arriving back at the barn around 3:30, both horses and teamster were ready to be done. I could not help but think about how this type of road travel with horses helped to build community in days gone by as folks passed by neighbors, friends, and others along the way, exchanging greetings and news as they went along. Too bad we are now stuck in motor vehicles with the sole purpose of getting from point A to B. We seem to miss a great deal in between.
-BradNovember 18, 2013 at 6:48 am #81618Jim OstergardParticipant
Nice reflections Brad. Years ago when I rode a bicycle a lot I often felt the same way. Motorized travel sure change how we relate to community. Thanks for sharing.November 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm #81624JayParticipant
That’s great Brad! We hay my sister’s field just under a mile up the road – paved, with upper end houses along much of it and used as a connector to several other roads.
We have no back way to get to my sisters, so we go down the road. Several neighbors have said they watch for us to start haying so they can watch us go by. We will sometimes have 2 or even 3 teams out working at a time- and that is fun. It seems to be a very good thing for all. So far the traffic hasn’t been too bad and is fairly courteous. JayNovember 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm #81625Carl RussellModerator
Years ago I made regular trips into Randolpb with the wagon to pick up grain and groceries. 3.5 miles one way. I also really valued that sense of time that it really takes us to get from one place to another. If we didn’t have motor vehicles our lives would be filled with much more dense vicinity related experiences.
I used to work on a property on the Stock farm Road, about 6 miles from here… Back in the day before I had a good truck, or trailer, and I would load my wagon with tools and spend a few hours driving down there, work for a few weeks, then drive them back.
That was when I was so sure that the economy and energy systems were going to fail any minute. I was so committed to developing my transportation and motive power needs based entirely on horses….. Somehow they keep propping up this house of cards,and I have slowly broken down my resolve.
I really enjoyed those days. Somehow I will have to regain some of that. I sure do like my truck and trailer, but seem to spend a lot more time just running around.
Thanks Brad for jogging my memories..
CarlNovember 19, 2013 at 6:37 am #81626Donn HewesKeymaster
With a new Amish community rising around me I see these things in their work and lives. One of Maryrose’s favorite stories is the young Amish boy galloping up the driveway like an emergency. Small welding job in hand! after I fixed it he hopped on the horse and took off as fast as it would go.
Unfortunately the roads immediately left and right of my house have steep hills with no shoulders and deep ditches. I have traversed these roads a few times with teams, but honestly I am too cautious most days. There are also a string of heavy trucks that supply one local business, and I loath meeting one of these on the steepest part of the narrow road.
One day a couple years ago I had a team of three going down the road to help with a little plowing; a milk truck going about 70 mph almost put all of us in the ditch. The horses handled it pretty well, but I just didn’t like it. (a ditch about 15′ deep with out enough shoulder for one horse, let alone three)
Over time I can make a bigger effort to train my animals to it. That is the hold up, if you avoid it then you are not preparing your animals for it. I can start by picking the best times and animals and watching where I go. Like Brad said, It is fun to go to the neighbors a mile a way; stop in their drive way for a few minutes of talking and then come home.November 19, 2013 at 10:43 am #81638Ed ThayerParticipant
Great thoughts on this topic. I too use the local roads to access our several garden plots scattered around the village. We have only had a couple of minor incidents but really enjoy the peace and purpose of the trips back and forth. Funny how I start to notice every pot hole, plugged culvert, or other pleasantry while heading to the field.
I load my trailer with the implement needed for the job, then hitch it to the fore cart and off we go. We are in no rush but have thought about what we are going to do before hand and have a purpose. It is also a plus to see the neighbors when they stop to chat.
My only trouble is figuring out how to get the tractor back and forth to these locations while spreading manure on the plots. If only Oz would pull the tractor with the manure spreader in tow.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.November 19, 2013 at 11:21 am #81641JeroenParticipant
Ha exactly the same here. Our gardens are half a mile from the farm. All is transported the same way, because the car can only get there in midst of summer.
<November 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm #81642Will StephensParticipant
I often get asked by friends not from New England why the older farm homes are built right on the road and it is seen as a detractor these days because of the lack of privacy and the road noise. It is hard enough for people today to appreciate the relative isolation then and the need to see your neighbors. And it still isn’t really understood until you travel at the speed of horse.
I am just starting to learn to drive. I live in a place that is perfect for doing most of my driving by horse. Problem is similar to Don’s in that traffic can be heavy and in the congestion of summer it can be down right unfriendly. My current horse does not seam to have the confidence it take so I am looking for a team mate or new horse that is more suited to the modern road. Not sure I have the training chops to get him there on my own!November 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm #81647dominiquer60Moderator
We spend a lot of time commuting. All of the market garden is at our house and hay fields are all over the neighborhood, the animals are at Sam’s parents place. Every time we want to harness up to work in the garden or most hay fields, we have to travel the road. By pavement we are a mile away, by dirt road and farm lanes it is a little over a 1/2 mile. We don’t have many neighbors on this route. Traveling by or through 5 corn fields is good for scouting purposes and we can keep a close eye on the grain corn that we cultivate. It can be enjoyable when we have the time and time consuming when you just want to cultivate a few garden rows. We let the horses trot the road and a couple of straight a ways. It is nice to have this distance to work a little attitude out of the younger mares. When we set out taps, we have a 2.5 mile collection route around the neighborhood that includes the state road. Generally it is just car traffic and an occasional logging truck. The neighbors enjoy watching anytime we are on the road with the horses or steers. Traveling by or through 5 corn fields is good for scouting purposes and we can keep a close eye on the grain corn that we cultivate. It would be nice to someday have the work animals closer to home, but for now we make the best of our frequent commute. Great to read others experiences.November 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm #81648Carl RussellModerator
As nice as it is to go slow, and visit with neighbors, one thing that has always bothered me is that everybody thinks that because I am going slowly that somehow that means I have tons of time and can stop to talk. Some times I will be coming home from logging at a nearby wood lot, 1/2 to 1 mile away, and all I want to do is get home, unharnessed, and get a snack, and every other car going by slows down and stops to chat. I love people, and I am quite sociable, and yes I generally stop to share the time, but if I was in my truck, I know they would just wave.
Or I’ll be un hitching logs on a landing near the road, or raking hay in the field by the road, and someone will just roll up to pass the time, like I’m just lingering there waiting to talk with them. I know I am blessed with social opportunities that most modern folks miss out on, but it makes me wonder sometimes what these people think I am doing.
One time a couple from out of state pulled up as I was emerging from the woods on my way home. It was fall, and they somehow found themselves at the end of a dirt road. As I was waiting for them to turn around, or get out of my way they got out of the car with cameras. Wearing sweat pants and sunglasses they proceeded to ask me about my work and life with the horses. Just amazed that I would actually spend an entire day in the woods working with horses they asked if my life didn’t get boring sometimes just up here on this little dirt road….. I thought to myself, who’s bored? At least I’m not just driving around wearing sweat pants and interrupting people who have places to go.
Rant over, CarlNovember 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm #81652JeroenParticipant
I think most of us know exactly what you mean, I certainly do. In fact you are right and wrong. Yes we have a job to do, we are tired and do not own all the time in the world, and yes people think you do. They think that if you were in a hurry you would take a car or a tractor.
But since there are few of us you, me and evereybody who works with horses has to stop and take the time to explain what we do, and why. If I am out on the road I stop the neighbours, make a quick conversation and go on. That way I stay in control, if not the french, they are specialists in long conversations…November 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm #81653dominiquer60Moderator
Carl’s thoughts made me think of the days that I lived in Easton, NY, just south of an intersection of 2 major roads in the county. We knew every other vehicle that drove buy, Mrs. Rymph delivering silage, Stewart going buy to plow the Riggio lot, English on his school bus route. As much as we knew all of them, one comment that we frequently got was “I saw you sitting in your field.” As often as many people saw us in the field this way, they never seemed to understand that we were never sitting, we were weeding, thinning, harvesting, transplanting, but never did we have the luxury of just sitting in the field. Seemed that even fellow farmers were out of touch with what it takes to grow produce for retail.March 18, 2014 at 12:29 pm #82852GreenonGreen (Rich DuMond)Participant
Carl, as always, I love your comments. I have to laugh. I have had many similar experiences, often on my own property though. I do much less time intensive ‘stuff’ with draft power than most of the people on this site, but I still get to do a little bit of everything, and am working towards being self-employed and becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on ‘the grid.’ All this being the case, normally when I am working – spreading manure, light logging, working the ground, etc – I have very limited hours of daylight remaining, and a long list to accomplish. I have had people walk to the edge of my property and start asking questions, asking if they can pet the animals, and then have to endure countless “Have you ever heard of a tractor?!” ‘jokes’. I really enjoy community, spreading knowledge of draft power, and responding to questions and curiosity about why I do things the way I do, but it’s always amusing to me that while they are making comments such as “Well this way is more time consuming, but it’s definitely worth it” they are also consuming many of my counted minutes in the process. Ironic.
Anyway, I very much enjoy the conversation on here and have been quietly learning from all of you on this site. For those of you whom I have met (Carl, Brad, Erika, to name a few) it was when I was just getting my feet wet and was relatively clueless and full of ‘dumb questions.’ It’s been an intense three years of learning, and a journey that I plan on remaining on for the remainder of my life, while bringing as many others along with me as possible. Thank you all for devoting your lives to the sharing of the knowledge, stories, wisdom, and experience that you have amassed by your own sweat and sacrifice.
You are all among the best people I know.
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