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Back to The Horse and Plow Days..

by Rolway / July 22, 2005 10:42 AM PDT

SISTERS, Ore. -- To some, the thought of a farmer patiently working the field behind a horse and plow might evoke pangs of nostalgia for the early days of agriculture. But in fact, the practice is making a comeback.

Ol' Dobbin hasn't run the tractors out of the fields yet. But increasingly, small farmers are finding horse-powered agriculture a workable alternative to mechanization.

Many are Amish farmers in Iowa and Pennsylvania who shun mechanization, but some are farmers who have turned to horses because of the bottom line, citing soaring fuel prices and the ability of the animals to produce their own replacements.

They also say the animals are better for the soil and can be used in wet weather when a tractor often cannot.

"They're more economical," he said. "They raise their own replacements, you can train them yourself and raise their feed."

A mare can produce a foal every year or so, and Miller says that, if properly trained, one can bring about $2,000 after two years.

A plow horse usually lasts 16 or 18 years, Miller said. He said he looks after his stable of nine carefully and veterinarian bills rarely total $200 a year.


Sounds good to me....George

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Hello George:)
by Glenda / July 22, 2005 11:33 AM PDT

When we were at James & Karens he took us to an Old FAshioned Fourth of July, We saw some of those huge Horses at a horse pull:) They explained that these horses were worked everyday in the fields. The biggest team weighed in at 4400 pounds!!! HUGE!

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Yep, some of those work horses are big.
by Rolway / July 22, 2005 12:03 PM PDT
In reply to: Hello George:)

Back when I was a kid on the farm, we used to use 2 horse teams to clear the fields of bolders and rocks. Boy, you talk about horse power. They would bear down, dig in, snorting and pulling and that sledge would move alright. Those big work horses are like a steam locomotive. When it starts pulling, something is going to give.


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It was the most amazing thing....
by Glenda / July 22, 2005 12:39 PM PDT

I have ever seen. One team at the end of the pull got hit with the chains on the sled they were pulling and took off, The kid that was driving them had lost all control and his Dad had to pull him off. Those horses went right through the fence! Knocked another man down and broke his arm. Pretty scary there. They finally got them calmed down but that ended the Winners getting their ribbons!

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Hi Glenda...That must of been an exciting moment...
by Rolway / July 23, 2005 9:15 AM PDT

The Chains must of spooked the horse.


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It really was!!
by Glenda / July 23, 2005 9:17 AM PDT

And I was so glad I had moved from where I had been sitting!! Karen and the kids were right there when it happened! That girl can move when she has too! LOL

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Yet as big and "scary" as they are,
by drpruner / July 26, 2005 2:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Hello George:)

they're also invariably gentle around people. Hence the Clydeweiser Budsdales for PR purposes.

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Another benefit....
by Angeline Booher / July 23, 2005 2:46 AM PDT

Free fertilizer!

People around here who garden haunt the riding stables for the stuff. It's organic, and a soil builder.

An uncle used a team until he was in his late nineties.

Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email

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You know Angeline, Horse dung is...
by Rolway / July 23, 2005 9:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Another benefit....

the best fertilizer there is for Rose Bushes. I use to dose them up with that stuff and what beautiful Roses I got.


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Bad for global warming though
by Evie / July 23, 2005 9:15 AM PDT
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You think so Evie...
by Rolway / July 23, 2005 9:25 AM PDT

Well, I was going to join this Fertilizer Club, but now you gave me second thoughts.


This letter is being sent to you because we know that you are critically interested in the condition of your lawn. This is a fertilizer club that will not cost you a cent to join! Upon receipt of this letter, go to the address at the top of the list and sh*t on their front lawn. You will not be the only one there, so do not feel embarrassed.

Then make five copies of this letter and send them to five of your friends who appreciate a good lawn. Add your name to the letter. You will not get any money or cheques, but within one week , if this chain is not broken, there will be 9,126 people sh*tting on your lawn. Your reward will come next spring when you will have one of the greenest, most beautiful lawns in the neighborhood.

Mrs. Harry Butt - 236 Corn Cob Alley

Mrs. Smelly B. Hind - 475 Diarrhea Way

Mrs. Apple Crop - 1422 Enema Drive

Mrs. Bigger Movement - 89 Rectum Road

Mr. Go More Piles - 741 Hemorrhoid Street

Mr. C. Howie Farts - Whistle Britches Ave.

Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Springer - 2 Suppository Lane

Mr. & Mrs. Took A. Fizzik - 634 Running Loose Lane

P.S. If you are constipated, pass this along to your neighbor. Dont break the chain. One Man didnt give a sh*t and lost his entire lawn. Best wishes for a greener lawn, and more fun at your lawn parties!!!


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(NT) (NT) Dying laughing!!! hehehe
by Glenda / July 23, 2005 9:28 AM PDT
In reply to: You think so Evie...
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(NT) (NT) LOL, You're TOO funny George!
by Evie / July 23, 2005 10:36 AM PDT
In reply to: You think so Evie...
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LOL! Do you think George ....
by Glenda / July 23, 2005 10:40 AM PDT

might be serious??? Give us the straight ''scoop'' here George Devil

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Septic tank
by James Denison / July 23, 2005 1:39 PM PDT
In reply to: You think so Evie...

I have a septic tank. I can just put a sump pump halfway down the access pipe and have plenty of free fertilizer, most of it already fermented too, in a liquid form.

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(NT) (NT) Eeeeeeewwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
by Evie / July 23, 2005 1:41 PM PDT
In reply to: Septic tank
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by James Denison / July 25, 2005 2:46 AM PDT

I wouldn't do that with human waste, but when I was stationed overseas, the Greek man who ran the sanitation dept on the air station (no planes) used to save the dried "cake" and use on his olive orchard. He had a garden area behind the fence where he used it too, and those cabbages were bigger than basketballs, and that's not counting the side leaves just the heart.

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But seriously, folks:
by drpruner / July 26, 2005 2:13 AM PDT
In reply to: LOL!

Isn't that illegal in some jurisdictions? Or maybe just with food destined for market.

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Yep, but maybe bad for you, too
by Dragon / July 26, 2005 1:01 PM PDT
In reply to: But seriously, folks:

because of heavy metal content. I had read something like this, before:

1. The mobilisation of P from particulate (stable form) to soluble forms (unstable) and subsequent diversion, as it were, from the terrestrial into the aquatic environment;

2. Excessive fertilisation of croplands and manure production with the net result, in macroscopic terms, being a transfer of P from concentrated point (land) sources to dispersed (land) sinks (Beck et al, 1994);

3. The steadily increasing level of impurities in phosphate rock, notably cadmium, uranium, nickel, chromium, copper and zinc (Steen, 1998). These metals are a threat to human health because of their tendency to bioaccumulate in plants and other high forms of life.



American sewage treatment plants produce 11.6 billion pounds of sewage sludge each year. More than a third is spread on farmland or otherwise mixed into soils. In addition to being "human manure," sewage sludge can contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals and pathogens.
Stephen Kohn, chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Whistleblowers Center, cited the testimony of Joseph Cocalis, an industrial hygenist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said that the position currently being taken by the EPA concerning sludge was "indefensible from a public health standpoint."



It is illegal to use human manure in compost used to grow food for human consumption, due to the possibility of contamination with several intractable human diseases. This doesn't stop people from using it. With care, long periods of decomposition, and attention to where it's used, under trees for instance, they seem to experience no difficulties.


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That's what I'd heard
by James Denison / July 27, 2005 7:11 AM PDT

..that it was used for tree farming in some areas, and forbidden on crops for human consumption. I'm not sure about grasslands for grazing animals though. I know the base overseas used it to water the baseball fields and they'd post when it was being sprayed through the sprinklers and the fields would receive clear water afterwards and be off limits a few days.

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Related: US wastewater treatment plants often use their
by drpruner / July 29, 2005 4:30 AM PDT
In reply to: That's what I'd heard

final output to water their own landscape. Law prevents them from using it for drinking, though the operators say it's fine, and would drink it themselves.

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(NT) (NT) I've eaten my last tree! :-)
by drpruner / July 29, 2005 4:28 AM PDT
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Surely you jest, Evie!
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / July 26, 2005 5:09 AM PDT

LOTS more greenhouse gasses generated by the tractors (and their manufacture, and that of their desiel) than by Old Dobbin, even if fed a diet of beans!

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Yes ... I was jesting
by Evie / July 26, 2005 5:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Surely you jest, Evie!

But in New Zealand they are instituting a fart tax on livestock ... and that's not only no joke it is ridiculous!

Evie Happy

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Methane sources
by Roger NC / July 26, 2005 10:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Surely you jest, Evie!
Principal methane sources are

decomposition of organic wastes
natural sources (marshes): 23 %
mineral fuel extraction: 20 %, see Coal bed methane extraction
Methane is extracted from geological deposits as a mineral fuel which is associated with other hydrocarbon fuels.

the processes of digestion in animals (cattle): 17 %
bacteria found in rice plantations: 12 %
biomass anaerobic heating or combustion
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A friend of mine grew up in Pennsylvania...
by EdH / July 23, 2005 10:51 AM PDT

One day their car broke down on the road, and they got a ride from a local Amish farmer. He told them, "Horses are much more reliable."

That said, there are reason that motor vehicles have replaced the horse. They really are more economical and reliable in the long run. Technology has improved life immensely for the human race, though it isn't always apparent.

I would NOT want to go back, ever.

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I read once that the 'death of small farms'
by drpruner / July 26, 2005 2:15 AM PDT

was caused by the advent of the 50 HP tractor: Its $ cost put the farmer in the position of a dog being wagged by its tail; he had to 'go big' to make it pay - vicious circle.

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(NT) (NT) Yeah, as well as the Fed. Gov. & Banks. Ask Willie
by Rolway / July 26, 2005 2:50 AM PDT
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(NT) (NT) Could you define 'small farms'?
by Dragon / July 26, 2005 1:03 PM PDT
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Sorry- I meant "family farms"
by drpruner / July 29, 2005 4:14 AM PDT

(Like Mr. and Mrs. ConAgra?) Happy

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As an owher of a small farm...
by J. Vega / July 27, 2005 7:58 AM PDT

As an owner of a small farm (about 20 acres) I see it differently. You can get a used little tractor like an 8N Ford for about $1500, and with it and something like 20 acres produce a suprising amount of food. The problem is to whom do you sell it. Food stores and companies that can or freeze don't want to bother with what they consider to be "small" amounts. However, some people in my area have done quite well, producing specialty items like herbs or vegetables that are not commonly found in local chain stores. Personally, I liked the idea of producing produce aimed at local ethnic markets, especially Chineese restraunts, who have a "thing" about just picked this morning freshness.
BTW, the reason I got my small little farm for what some people consider to be a "song" is that It was too small for a producing farm for most normal markets but too big (for many people) to deal with as a simple residence.

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