Win a ticket to Paul Wheaton and Alan Booker's PDC this week in the Science and Research forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Mike Jay
  • Anne Miller
  • Jocelyn Campbell
stewards:
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton
gardeners:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Daron Williams

Small animals for small farm plowing...  RSS feed

 
Posts: 23
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I visited Belize a few years ago they were using oxen. What was interesting is that the Old Order Mennonites who used them spoke English/German. The oxen were trained in Spanish. So all the voice commands used, were spoken in Spanish. They loved the calmness of the oxen, as this day they were hauling Sapodilla trees out of the bush for fence post.
Screen-Shot-2016-04-10-at-3.17.32-PM.png
[Thumbnail for Screen-Shot-2016-04-10-at-3.17.32-PM.png]
 
Hugh Holland
Posts: 23
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
More pics from Belize. These oxen did everything by voice command. Strong, steady and smart!
IMG_1785.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1785.JPG]
IMG_1787.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1787.JPG]
IMG_1791.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1791.JPG]
 
Posts: 155
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
3
books chicken dog forest garden greening the desert urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Hugh Holland wrote:More pics from Belize. These oxen did everything by voice command. Strong, steady and smart!



They are beautiful!
 
Posts: 266
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
20
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

William Bronson wrote:....

Also, for plowing, maybe a cable and winch driven plow could work. Atv winches are cheap, and run on DC, so they might fit the bill for a homestead.



I don't know how I missed this part of this one in the first go round reading. With the soils class I took last fall it has left me wondering how to easily implement mechanic no till planting for crops with deeper planting depths in the garden since no till takes more force in a single pass. While I have tractors big enough they wouldn't work in the garden because of fence and permanent plantings etc. This answer could easily and cheaply solve the tractor answer. Bury some ground anchor points through the middle of the garden say every 20 feet. Between a pair of those a single I beam with with wheels at each end so it can be rolled from one location to the next. Mount the winch on a slide so it can be anywhere along the beam. That way pulling position would be infinitely adjustable between being able to move the winch along the beam and move the beam from one pair of anchors to the next. A few holes properly drilled would let the things adjust for diagonal pulling if needed. Since it is mounted in the middle of the garden you could pull both directions doubling reach. 6 anchor points giving 5 mounting locations for say a 20 ft beam would give 100 feet of reach. A 50 ft winch would then give 100 feet of total reach by going off each side without using an extension to the cable. Add a wireless remote and you could control start stop from your planter or other tools being pulled by the winch. An electric tractor that is fairly cheap to buy, stores compactly and will cover 10,000 square feet of garden. The beam would be a bit of pain in the garden when not in use but maybe build a garden bench / storage unit out of it so it had year round value. And nothing says you have limit the cable length. Add a removable extension or 2 and you could pull far longer rows in just the time it took you to reset the winch. Or longer winches are not that much more expensive.
 
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We own four small ponies/large miniature horses, and you would be amazed by their strength. My largest is 38 inches at the withers -- big enough to be extremely strong, but small enough to be easily handled. I trained him for recreational driving and need to put him to work around our farm. Several friends do farm work with their minis, and one uses theirs for light logging. The challenge lies not with their abilities, but with finding the appropriate size implements and forecarts. While driving harnesses are easy to find, heavy duty work harness takes more searching and knowledge. A good place to start is Patty's Pony Place. Of course, with any work animal of any size, proper care is essential, and the learning curve is steep. Mot typically, people I know already had them decided to train them for farm work, rather than buying them specifically as mini plow horses. The rewards, however, are immense.
 
Posts: 45
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pigs are great for rooting deeper into the soil. They aren't, of course, hooked up to a harness but are put in moveable pens like a chicken tractor to eat in the areas you want plowed. Years ago a couple had a pet pig named Sir Walter Bacon who plowed their land. Pigs will even eat grass roots, weed roots, grubs, etc. With pigs as well as horses, cows, or other herding animals, unless you bond with it like a pet, (as in the beloved family milk cow or the cherished pony that gets attention from its owners daily,) they have to have others of their own kind to be healthy, so don't get just one. Here's a link to an overview of some mini-cow breeds: http://www.great-group-activities.com/miniature-cattle.html
 
Posts: 9
Location: Co. Cork, Ireland, Europe
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with Suzanne about the Shetland ponies. They are immensely strong and very hardy. I would not ask them to plough. For that you need 3 large heavy horses like Shires, Clydesdales or Percherons. Two work at a time on a single share plough with the third one being used to spell the others in turn. These large horses will be sweating and blowing hard after ploughing 100 yards of clay soil. They would be totally uneconomical for a small homestead. In olden days they would work the farm year round, ploughing, harrowing, rolling, sowing, carting manure to be spread on fields, harvesting, taking produce to market etc. and would usually have Sunday off. A pair of shetlands could harrow land that had been ploughed, pull a small roller and a small sowing machine. But as others have said, it would be difficult to find scaled down machinery to fit them. They could also pull a small trap and provide transport if local roads are quiet. They ate good for helping to clear scrubby ground, as they can eat much coarser herbage than most equines. They can live out with supplementary feed in cold winters but would be better stabled. Then you will need bedding as well as fodder. And it takes a lot of experience to keep and train any equine. So many people bought ponies during the Celtic Tiger here and many were badly neglected due to lack of knowledge. So unless you have an acre you can use for grazing and turnout, separate from your growing area, I don't think any equines are very suitable for Permaculture, unless you already have experience and could stack functions by running courses on using equines on the land and maybe also organising picnic drives or such for hire. I know someone who has his son's jumping pony pulling a beautiful buggy to bring brides to church for weddings. I have seen so many horses and ponies abused by people with insufficient knowledge. They are long suffering animals and will put up with years of abuse. . .
 
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Interesting and entertaining. There are a load of donkeys in Mexico, and there was a great effort to develop small agricultural tools to be used by donkeys made here some years ago, financed in part by the UK govt. and the location was the State of Veracruz. However, I think all these have been overtaken by the NoTill concept as someone has already mentioned. Pigs are great for startups as they till the soil and their manure gets in there as well. Afterwards, I still believe no-till is the answer at least here in Mexico. I am not sure in the more northern climes where it seems many of you live and farm.
 
Posts: 17
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have small, old-style Morgans and, for our homestead, they have multiple functions and justify their keep a thousand times over.

We are very remote, 5 miles off maintained/normal road...ours is just a dirt Forest Service path, so the mares are our all-terrain vehicles for several months each spring. We "commute" with them to our truck, which lives at our neighbors place when the road is impassable, and pack groceries in on them. A plus is that they don't mind if we doze in the saddle or text at the helm!

Then, in summer months, they help us haul logs down out of the woods and cart portable sheep fencing around the fields; pack our equipment when we do berry picking/canning on-site in the forest; and get us out for rides when we are itchy to explore the woods. They are a really durable mountain horse, good feet and legs and good sense.

An additional bonus is that they act as guardian animals for our sheep and goats. We have a lot of predators around us, but the mares seem to be a pretty good deterrent.

All that said, we have enough acreage that they graze 6 mos of the year and we put up our own hay for winter.

Couldn't live the life we have here in the high Rockies without them.
 
Cathy Wilde
Posts: 9
Location: Co. Cork, Ireland, Europe
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes Roger, 'no till' is the way to go for small and large scale agriculture, both to conserve energy and to keep the integrity of the soil, which is disturbed by conventional tillage, with valuable top soil and nutrients being lost in the process as well as the complex systems of bacteria and fungi that are so vital for plant growth. My opinion is that humans will move towards a vegetarian diet, both for health reasons, and because using animals for food uses up too much acreage that could produce far more plant food and help towards reducing world hunger. There is also the ethical questions of animal welfare under factory farming conditions, which causes lifetime misery for so many sentient creatures. And this also applies to animals being used for work.Fine when it's done by experienced handlers and the animals are well treated. History shows that millions of beasts of burden have been worked to death by humans.Still happening in parts of the world. Pig and chicken tractors are great and I don't have a problem with them being kept on a small scale as long as their welfare needs are all catered for. Keeping animals leads to breeding, which always ends with a surplus of males. Again no problem with males being humanely slaughtered for meat but increasing government regulation means that in most places it is illegal to slaughter an animal anywhere only in a registered slaughter house. Which is a terribly stressful place for any animal to die. Many have to wait several days before they reach end point. They are surrounded by smells and sounds of death.So much kinder to kill them at home as EVAN Described how his pig met it's end up at the Labs. So I suppose I am against much use of animals in Permaculture set ups, but that's just my opinion.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2915
546
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I disagree, plowing still has its place today, just in a more limited role due to a lot of reasons.

As with everything, microclimate and soil has a lot to do with it. Where I live, our soil has a lot of manganese so it is prone to compaction, so tillage really matters. I just got done plowing up a 10 acre field, in part for that reason, but also because I am in the midst of crop-rotating it from corn into grass ground. Deep plowing it with a overturning plow really allows me to get some nutrients and organic matter down into the soil where it will do good. How good? On an 8 year rotational schedule soil tests reveal I am actually getting on the high side of organic matter; and yes you can have too much. You want water to move through the soil not getting all clogged up. A reliance on solid cow manure on corn ground has aided that rather then pelleted or liquid urea too however, but how are you going to get the most use of that NPK (especially nitrogen) without immediately incorporating and capturing it without tillage?

In this case I had no other options, I had to get the corn stubble turned over, but in recent years vertical tillage has made strides as science and mechanical engineering has really dovetailed well. It uses less horsepower and fuel to do as well.

One side note about small animal power though while plowing is that it is not the sheer power of the animal, but the speed. In order to effectively plow, you must go as quickly as you can (within reason); one of the few tasks on the farm where going as fast as you can, makes for a better job. Considering the strain it takes to pull a plow through soil...at a pretty good clip...takes strength AND stamina.

 
What's that smell? I think this tiny ad may have stepped in something.
2019 PDC for Scientists, Engineers, Educators and experienced Permies
https://permies.com/wiki/100059/PDC-Scientists-Engineers-Educators-experienced
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!