|Greetings to all who read these lines. I write today to educate and share about life on the family farm with a focus on how we use horses in agriculture. We are member-owners and producers for the co-operative. Our family consists of my wife and me, and five boys ranging in age from 8 to 18 years. We have 46 cows – some are black and white, and some are red and white. They all have a name, and some of our favorites are Sassy, Saucy, Janis, and Circle. We have 25 heifers and 10 baby calves. A heifer is a calf who is no longer drinking milk. A heifer is not called a cow until she has a baby calf herself, which is at about two years of age.
We also have 8 horses and 5 dogs. They also all have a name. The horses names are Jerry, Bud, Bill, Blossom, Pearl, Jill, Rockey and Skip. We do all of our farming with horses instead of tractors. The horses help us plant, harvest, and haul the crops – corn and hay – from the fields and into storage for the cows in the winter when the snow is flying. A small amount of the feed the horses help us produce is also used to feed the horses.
In the spring time, around April 1 when the ground is dry enough, we begin to plant hay and alfalfa seed for the dairy cows. We hitch 6 horses into a forecart and hook the forecart up to a no-till drill with seed hoppers. I then stand on the forecart and drive the team of horses back and forth in the field to put the seeds in the ground. With some rain, sunshine, and warm weather the seeds will germinate and sprout. By June 1, the grass and alfalfa will usually be about 18 inches tall.
When the weather looks to be nice for a few days, we hitch 3 horses into a forecart and hook it up to a hay mower and cut the hay. We let the hay dry for a day or so and then rake it into windrows. Next, we hitch 6 horses into a hay baler with a wagon hitched behind the baler. A hay baler is a machine that cuts and compresses the hay into small bales 18 inches wide and 3 feed long. Each bale weighs about 70lbs, and the wagon can hold about 100 bales. When fully loaded, a wagon can weigh 3 to 4 tons.