Thursday, April 23, 2009

Equipment for the Small Farm

This morning I was checking out the Practical Farmers of Iowa website to see if they had any information up on this year's field days (they didn't, but I'll keep checking). But, I did find an interesting workshop, in Fairbury, Illinois, sponsored by the Illinois Farm Beginnings program. The workshop is on Saturday, May 23rd from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM and it is all about equipment for small farmers. According to the description at this link they will talk about how the small farmer can us old and new equipment in creative ways and how you can even do it inexpensively.

I doubt that I will be able to make it to this event considering that it is about 300 miles away, but if you happen to be in that area it might be something to check out. It does bring up a good discussion question ... if you feel like discussing today?

What are some pieces of equipment that you feel the small diverse farm needs to get going, and are there any creative ways that you can use older equipment? I know one thing for sure, if you keep your eyes open and look for the smaller equipment (horse drawn or otherwise) you can often find a good deal ... or even better pick up something for free.

So far on our farm we have the tractor, small plow, haybine, rake, baler, post hole digger, two barge boxes, two hay racks, and we are in the process of picking up a small disc (that needs a little work). With this equipment that we have acquired for a relatively small amount of money (excluding the tractor) we will be able to provide our own hay from the farm, set up fences, work the garden up, do general work around the farm, and even save some feed bill money by buying corn directly from the field at times. I am pleased with our small line of equipment.


Yeoman said...

Given that you are in the Mid West, you ought to think about going to Farm Progress Days.

Farm Progress Days deals all with horse drawn implements. But that's deceptive. Many of the implements there are fully modern, probably the majority of them are, and a person couldn't help but learn things by going there, even if they have no intention or desire to farm with draft animals.

Also, it invariably draws a lot of small farmers and Amish farmers, which would be a handy resource for any Yeoman.

Steven said...

Yeoman, it's called Horse Progress Days, at least the one I've been to is. We went in IL. in '07 and it was really great. That event is what got me interested in organic and therefore sustainable agriculture. We heard a talk from an Amish man from Florida that had an organic dairy and did rotational grazing with 27 permanent paddocks. Wow, I've learned alot since then but I still have alot to learn.
They did have some really neat equipment there. Everything from a disk for a single light horse to pull to a round baler hitched to a forecart with an engine and pto, all pulled by horses. It was a family event in many ways, with crafts and Amish food for sale.

Rich said...

I think a small brushhog is pretty useful. I use one for general mowing, brush control, weed control, mowing fence lines, even planting food plots for wildlife or livestock (mow the area, broadcast seed, mow again, hope for rain), etc.

I have never been a big fan of small plows. Since I always have to go back over the plowed area to smooth it out, I would rather just use something like a chisel (if I have one available)With that thought, I have a homemade 3-pt chisel that I built from some heavy-duty chisel shanks I found. I also have another homemade light duty chisel/cultivator that I built from some parts I dug out of a gully (they weren't really stopping the erosion and I thought I could find a better use for them)I think something like a small (about 6-8 ft?) drag chisel would be pretty useful on a small farm. Using a chisel for primary tillage operations would avoid creating the compaction layer common to plowing or discing. A chisel is pretty simple to maintain and fix (very few if any moving parts). And a chisel is versatile, by changing the chisel points to wide sweeps and altering the depth of tillage, a halfway decent seedbed can be created with the same equipment used for the initial deeper tillage.

Plus a chisel (at least most of them) can be easily adjusted to suit your needs. A chisel that is 'too big' can be made smaller by removing some of the shanks (and you get spare parts to fix the chisel or to experiment with) Just remember that it takes alot more horsepower to pull a chisel than you might expect (up to 8-10 hp per shank?)After finally breaking down and buying one, a post hole digger is the one tool that I wish I had bought a long time ago. In addition to less wear and tear on your body, if you figure your labor is only worth minimum wage, you can pay for the posthole digger after the first couple dozen holes you dig (at least if you are digging in the clay around my part of the world)

Anonymous said...

Cool blog as for me. It would be great to read something more concerning that matter. The only thing I would like to see here is some photos of some gadgets.
Jeff Kripke
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