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    Stephen Leslie

    Hello folks,
    I am writing a book about the tools and systems required for raising produce with draft animal power. I am wondering if anyone has firsthand experience with using a horse drawn plastic mulch layer or transplanter. If so, could you please say a bit about how you use these machines, also what qualities you need to see in a horse to be safe working in this situation?

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    I don’t own either unit in a horse drawn model.

    I watched the mulch layer demos at the 2012 HPD. I looked at how easy they seemed to pull and the quality of the bed that they made. If I won the lottery I would want an EZ Trail mulch layer, it has double disk bed formers that seem to form a bed with an easier pull and the slightly raised clean beds looked the best to me.

    I would like a horse drawn transplanter someday, but at the moment I don’t have a crew to be able to use one. Instead I rely on a used Rainflo water wheel and a tractor. I can push the wheels as far as part as possible and wet dibble all my beds 36″ apart. I can then go behind the tractor (that I can shut off and it whoas well) and plant behind it, if I am lucky I can rope a neighbor or 2 into helping me plant.

    This is how I do it for now with my mixed power.

    To be clear there are 4 things that I use a tractor for, we have 2 tractors, a 50Hp Massey with 4 wheel drive and a loader, a ’49 9.5 Hp AC G with creep gear.
    1. The loader, we will have a tractor with a bucket until we can’t get fuel for one anymore.
    2. Transplanting, using the tractor allows me to do this job alone with the equipment that I have on hand.
    3. Seeding using the AC G is almost pleasurable if it were not for the exhaust. I can slowly drive in straight rows that are easy for the horses to follow.
    4. Minimal amount of filed work. Mainly the Massey with the larger double gang disk (I could us it with all 6 horses, but that is out of my league), or the G with a couple pieces of single equipment (spring tooth, 5′ cultipacker, chain harrow).

    If I use the G for field work I am either trying to make the best of a spare half hour or racing against the weather. Thankfully it weighs less than any of our draft animals. With animals living 3/4 mile from the market garden, it is nice to have a quick alternative for small amounts of “G” field work. If I have a 18′ x 150′ patch to seed down and a spare minute to do it in, it just doesn’t make sense to go get and animal when I can have it done in no time with the same amount of fuel it would take me to drive to the horse barn and back.

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