Today Intern Virginia, under the supervision of Farmer Rob, hitched the oxen to a hay rake and raked a field of drying hay in preparation for baling.
(Photos 1 and 2 by Intern Virginia)
The reaper-binder rolled through Howell Farm's wheat crop yesterday, cutting the wheat and binding it into sheaves. Farmers following behind then stacked the sheaves into "shocks" for drying. Until the shocks are brought in (likely today) the biggest threat to the wheat now is hungry white-tailed deer.
Rarely has the Howell Farm kitchen garden looked as appetizing as it does right now. Though strawberries and spinach are on their way out -- everything else is at its prime or full of potential. Sugar snap peas are ready for picking, and the cabbage is heading up nicely. The tomato plants look healthy, as do the rest of the fruits and veggies.
Each of Howell Farm's farmers is off the farm today on assorted missions. So on what has otherwise turned out to be fairly quite day around the farm, the rest of the labor force is seeing to some infrastructure repairs. As Intern Virginia replaces the floor of the corn crib, Don and Andi are up in the green barn building a new front gate to replace the old front gate, which has seen better days.
The floor of the farm's corn crib has some openings where a squirrel, mouse, or sheep's snout can sneak through to steal some corn. This corn, of course, is meant to feed Howell Farm's livestock over the winter.
Today, Intern Virginia gathered tools and wood and began replacing the floor. She hopes to have the project complete by the end of the day.
After a string of sunny days, the forecast on Friday calls for rain on Friday, with the possibility of rain on Thursday evening. Which means all the hay now drying in the Howell Farm hay fields needs to be baled tomorrow.
At the Howell Farm plowing match -- this was several years ago -- I asked an old-timer with a team if there are times when it's better to have a horse than a tractor. He told me he could cultivate better with a horse than a tractor.
Today Farmer Jeremy cultivated the corn field, steering the horses (with the lines in his hands) and the cultivating blades (with the pedals under his feet.) This fine control, much finer than a tractor, allows the farmer to cultivate weeds very close to the corn plants without, if skillfully performed, killing the corn itself.
As a Howell Farm intern several years ago, I had the opportunity to cultivate a potato field. In my opinion there's no more fun to be had working with draft horses than cultivating.
The Furrow is the online newsletter of The Friends of Howell Living History Farm. We will be updating this site about once a week with crop reports and other insights into life on a horse-drawn living history farm.
|THE FURROW: The online newsletter of Howell Living History Farm