Friday, March 26, 2010

Draft Horse Ploughing

The Plow: "An implement used to cut, lift, and turn over soil."
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

And, a thing of simple beauty! We wanted to see if the definition of a plow really didn't contain the need for diesel fuel and soil compaction. We decided to embark upon a grand experiment.

We began with an old walking plow. And had no idea how to use it.

We found Fran. He learned to plow back in the 40s at the ripe old age of 1o years old. He leaned on the back end of our pick-up, gazed long and hard at our newly acquired plow and said:
" sure got yourself a beauty there!"

We took his word for it. Asked him if there was anything we needed to know about plowing behind horses with one of these things:

"'ll figure it out when you're doing it.
So we found Ken.
Ken has 10 lovely Shire Horses. (With a Capital S.) He helped us bring the old girl back. Soon our ploughshare was shined and ready for the soil!

Indy and Dance came walking up our driveway. The hens scattered. The cats hid. The goats...admired these two fine looking giant goats.
Here Shane and Ken are hooking them up to the double tree and the plow.
And they're off! The first furrow was a bit wobbly. Old-timers say that the measure of a man's success in life, and whether he will amount to anything in life can be seen in how his field has been plowed.
No pressure though.
Shane and Ken did indeed figure it out as they went. They found out how to set the plow lower in the earth, and adjust the cutting wheel. The tool is a thing of simple well-thought out beauty.
When you walk behind the horses you can hear the sound of the plough slicing the earth like butter, as it lays the sod and soil over. Indy learned to walk in the furrow and they both pulled like champions.
Did it work?
Bet your life!
We have a nicely plowed ring around the CSA vegetable field. Next week: more! And also: horse-drawn discing!
Experienced Teamsters and Ploughmen say that when you plow year after year with horses your soil is spongy as foam.
Happy Horses. Happy Soil. Happy Farmer.

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