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Old 06-25-2017, 08:26 AM
mtnairkin mtnairkin is offline
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Yesterday, I took most of a day off from the demands of my gardens and went to an estate auction. A friend who follows auctions pretty closely called me the night before and told me he had seen some pretty nice horse drawn equipment at an auction site ( he knew I'd been looking for some).

In brief I got 4 different implements for what I considered a very good price.
I have most of the tractor drawn equipment I need but I've been looking for an alternative in the case of TEOTWAWKI situation, in the event fuel and modern parts become scarce or impossible to obtain. I have too much garden space to comfortably till by hand and my thinking has been that the only way I could guarantee continuance is to use animal power. I'm still hoping to buy a horse drawn sickle bar mower to be able to cut hay for said livestock (as well as for being able to feed livestock meant for food)

Modern tractors (and other farm equipment) have gotten as complex as modern cars and totally computerized and need specialized computers to even work on them. In a real crisis much of it would be virtually worthless (as well as a fuel supply problem).

I have an idea that being able to farm on a scale large enough to feed a large group would be invaluable during said crisis so that has been my rationale for some time now to start leaning towards more natural sustainable methods. Farming with draft animals has been done sustainably for thousands of years and is still being done all over the world and even in the US by certain people and groups. Farming with engine powered machinery has gone on for only a little over a 100 years and in the last 20 years or so with the gross complexity that exists with modern equipment.

I'm not there yet but this recent purchase gives me a good feeling for the possibilites. Also I'm aware that relying on animal power is not just a piece of cake either but for thousands of years, farmers have managed sustainable agriculture using draft animals. Another small step in what I think might be a long term solution to potential problems.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnairkin View Post
Yesterday, I took most of a day off from the demands of my gardens and went to an estate auction. A friend who follows auctions pretty closely called me the night before and told me he had seen some pretty nice horse drawn equipment at an auction site ( he knew I'd been looking for some).

In brief I got 4 different implements for what I considered a very good price.
I have most of the tractor drawn equipment I need but I've been looking for an alternative in the case of TEOTWAWKI situation, in the event fuel and modern parts become scarce or impossible to obtain. I have too much garden space to comfortably till by hand and my thinking has been that the only way I could guarantee continuance is to use animal power. I'm still hoping to buy a horse drawn sickle bar mower to be able to cut hay for said livestock (as well as for being able to feed livestock meant for food)

Modern tractors (and other farm equipment) have gotten as complex as modern cars and totally computerized and need specialized computers to even work on them. In a real crisis much of it would be virtually worthless (as well as a fuel supply problem).

I have an idea that being able to farm on a scale large enough to feed a large group would be invaluable during said crisis so that has been my rationale for some time now to start leaning towards more natural sustainable methods. Farming with draft animals has been done sustainably for thousands of years and is still being done all over the world and even in the US by certain people and groups. Farming with engine powered machinery has gone on for only a little over a 100 years and in the last 20 years or so with the gross complexity that exists with modern equipment.

I'm not there yet but this recent purchase gives me a good feeling for the possibilites. Also I'm aware that relying on animal power is not just a piece of cake either but for thousands of years, farmers have managed sustainable agriculture using draft animals. Another small step in what I think might be a long term solution to potential problems.
Most people think about it, but don't have the means or space to do it. Good for you for being able to act on it. Now, about those draft animals. Those tools are not very useful without them. Are you going to look for them after the SHTF?

People power and a few good broadforks are better than nothing.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:37 AM
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It is an appealing idea. I really like working with draft animals and implements. It is hard work and there is a reason people so readily went to tractors. When times are tough they are very dependable. Lots of people in the cold parts of the country still feed with draft animals in the winter because they always start no matter how cold it gets.
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Old 06-25-2017, 10:08 AM
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I'm still hoping to buy a horse drawn sickle bar mower to be able to cut hay for said livestock (as well as for being able to feed livestock meant for food)

would not any ground driven mower work? I remember one for behind tractors that pulled off the bar with a pin ,,so a clevis would allow the tree to be hooked to it
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Old 06-25-2017, 03:38 PM
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I was talking with my late father about plowing with horses some years ago. He told me he spent many a day staring at the *** end of a mule.

If you could cut a one foot furrow, you would walk a bit over eight miles to plow one acre and take maybe nine hours depending on the horses' pace. That's just to plow, then harrow and plant and finally reap.

Jesse Buel in his book gave out some measurements and times. It dated from the 1840's. I'm not sure I understand them though.

My father thought they were about right.
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Old 06-25-2017, 05:00 PM
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Next up (after P-38-51) for super simple is a Swiss army knife can opener.

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Old 06-25-2017, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Routestep View Post
I was talking with my late father about plowing with horses some years ago. He told me he spent many a day staring at the *** end of a mule.

If you could cut a one foot furrow, you would walk a bit over eight miles to plow one acre and take maybe nine hours depending on the horses' pace. That's just to plow, then harrow and plant and finally reap.

Jesse Buel in his book gave out some measurements and times. It dated from the 1840's. I'm not sure I understand them though.

My father thought they were about right.
Going to chase down an online ebook copy of the Jesse Buel Book. Thanks for the name.

Now, I've always 'heard' that it took twice as long using an ox/oxen to plow/do anything as a horse -- which is why the invention of the horse collar was considered so 'revolutionary' in its time and allowed for better productivity/increased pop growth after it appeared [end of the dark ages? Early middle ages? whenever]. I do not know if that figure is correct or not.

But that the advantage of oxen was they could handle a heavier load/work longer/ were 'easier' to care for.

[Of course, the soil type makes all the difference in the time needed to plow.]
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Old 06-25-2017, 05:48 PM
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Draft animals have to be fed 365 days a year, tended to, and maintained. Not to mention equipment that actually works. A tractor can be parked 365 days a year, weather you use it or not. Cost is about the same in investment terms.
Can you see why our ancestors migrated to tractors? Those who didn't fought the change, and died. I knew the last three old times who still drove their team to town to get groceries. One was my grandfather!
I was little, but I can remember him coming in for dinner. It was the chains on the harness dinging as the team came around the yard. Oh, that was my job, watering the team at dinner time. The windmill pumped water all the time, I just had to put the spout in the horse trough..

How many members can remember following a team plowing, cultivating the corn, or putting up hay? It was the best memories of my grandfathers.

Last edited by two bits; 06-25-2017 at 07:34 PM.. Reason: poor spelling
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:34 PM
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I've been around horses just enough to know I'm not comfortable with them. I kinda envy those who work with them so well, this coming from someone who grew up in Amish country. I've seen horses and mules, a few very much up close and personal, but never been around oxen used as draft animals. Have been behind a pair of horses in the field even. Just never felt comfortable around them. And I kinda figure that as intuitive as animals are, they probably wouldn't be that comfortable around me either.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:44 PM
mtnairkin mtnairkin is offline
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Originally Posted by Heartlander View Post
Most people think about it, but don't have the means or space to do it. Good for you for being able to act on it. Now, about those draft animals. Those tools are not very useful without them. Are you going to look for them after the SHTF?

People power and a few good broadforks are better than nothing.


It all depends on how fast it comes and if I'm rich enough to obtain them beforehand. Barring any loss of fuel (and I'm aware I could lose it all) I have enough fuel in reserve to last about 5 years at my present rate of use. If the world would fall apart tomorrow, I'm gambling that I'd have means to obtain draft animals within that period. It does take time to make the transition and inertia makes it more difficult as long as things stay normal. I've had horses in the past and will likely get them again as I get set up for them again. Personally I've not worked horses that much but under the pressure of a 'got to' situation I'd make it work. I do have neighbors that are experienced plowmen. Gradually I would like to work into animal power but I also know the difficulty of the transition without the urgency of a SHTF situation. This is a fallback position for me just in case we do have a system failure.

I already do have the people powered tools as a reserve but I'm thinking for volume of production and barring the access to fuel and maybe equipment parts, it would be so much more efficient to at least be somewhat prepared for that alternative. If it never comes to that situation, I'm producing much food with engine powered equipment. Like most of us, I'm preparing for the possibilities with the hope that it's not needed.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:49 PM
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It is an appealing idea. I really like working with draft animals and implements. It is hard work and there is a reason people so readily went to tractors. When times are tough they are very dependable. Lots of people in the cold parts of the country still feed with draft animals in the winter because they always start no matter how cold it gets.

There is no question about it, doing the work with machinery and modern methods is easier. There are a few advantages farming with draft animals though. The Amish and Old Order Mennonites (and others) still use horse power (in it's original form) successfully.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:53 PM
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I'm still hoping to buy a horse drawn sickle bar mower to be able to cut hay for said livestock (as well as for being able to feed livestock meant for food)

would not any ground driven mower work? I remember one for behind tractors that pulled off the bar with a pin ,,so a clevis would allow the tree to be hooked to it


Most ground driven mowers would work or could be altered to make them work with draft animals. I've looked at most of my equipment and much of it could be adapted to critters. I kinda used a sickle bar as a generic term for mowers.
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Routestep View Post
I was talking with my late father about plowing with horses some years ago. He told me he spent many a day staring at the *** end of a mule.

If you could cut a one foot furrow, you would walk a bit over eight miles to plow one acre and take maybe nine hours depending on the horses' pace. That's just to plow, then harrow and plant and finally reap.

Jesse Buel in his book gave out some measurements and times. It dated from the 1840's. I'm not sure I understand them though.

My father thought they were about right.



The original dimension of one acre (43,560 sq. ft.) was derived from what a draft horse could normally plow in one day.

My tractor will do about 8 or 10 acres a day (long day) as a comparison.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:00 PM
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Next up (after P-38-51) for super simple is a Swiss army knife can opener.



I have an idea you might have intended to post this in 'What was your prep today'? I see a lot of your posts there.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:15 PM
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Going to chase down an online ebook copy of the Jesse Buel Book. Thanks for the name.

Now, I've always 'heard' that it took twice as long using an ox/oxen to plow/do anything as a horse -- which is why the invention of the horse collar was considered so 'revolutionary' in its time and allowed for better productivity/increased pop growth after it appeared [end of the dark ages? Early middle ages? whenever]. I do not know if that figure is correct or not.

But that the advantage of oxen was they could handle a heavier load/work longer/ were 'easier' to care for.

[Of course, the soil type makes all the difference in the time needed to plow.]



That sounds like a book I need too. Someone might be able to post a link.

I'd not seen oxen work when I was young but I did see some oxen demonstations at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in recent years. I was impressed and fascinated by them and have not ruled them out as a choice in draft animals. That's why I said draft animals instead of horses. From what I've read, the covered wagons using oxen during our westward migration and settlement were more reliable and hardy than horses on the long trek. Horses were faster but required more care and better feed.

I've often wondered why oxen use yokes instead of a collar. Their physical makeup is not greatly different than a horse. I do have a couple of ox yokes that I've collected over the years. I also have a set of horse harness that a friend gave me. It doesn't look extremely large but I'm certainly no expert on harness. It looks like it would fit a smaller draft horse. I might be in the ironic situation of trying to find a horse to fit my harness istead of finding a harness to fit my horse.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:18 PM
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I've been around horses just enough to know I'm not comfortable with them. I kinda envy those who work with them so well, this coming from someone who grew up in Amish country. I've seen horses and mules, a few very much up close and personal, but never been around oxen used as draft animals. Have been behind a pair of horses in the field even. Just never felt comfortable around them. And I kinda figure that as intuitive as animals are, they probably wouldn't be that comfortable around me either.

I too was raised in Amish country plus when I was young there were still a few diehards using horses and mules. I only got to ride on their backs while my uncle was plowing.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:29 PM
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Now, about those draft animals. Those tools are not very useful without them.


Actually the cultivators I got (I'm not sure about the plow) could be pulled by a 4 wheeler. The friend who told me about the sale was bidding (unsuccessfully) on a small 4 wheeler and was there to see me bid on my implements. I joked with him that if he'd have bought that 4 wheeler he could have pulled my equipment.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:39 PM
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I have an idea you might have intended to post this in 'What was your prep today'? I see a lot of your posts there.

I'm betting it was the "can opener" thread
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:41 PM
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I'm betting it was the "can opener" thread

You might be right. I noticed that thread and didn't get to it yet.

Yep, you're right, he posted there and his post here was a follow up.

Last edited by mtnairkin; 06-25-2017 at 09:49 PM.. Reason: added after reading the can opener thread.
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Old 06-25-2017, 10:28 PM
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Preparing to farm with draft animals...That kind of prepping has my respect. Basically grid down prep. That's my gardening approach. You have done the easy part....buying stuff. Now get a horse and put it into practice. Would love to see some posts about it.
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