Thursday, May 27, 2010


So this is the harrow; the spike harrow to be exact. We'd gotten a larger one some years ago and used its spikes (just railroad spikes) and other hardware to make this slightly smaller one for one horse to pull. It isn't that it is difficult to pull but smaller is easier to maneuver and we don't have acres and acres we're trying to do.

This is the first pass. The ground is rough from the plowing but as that's been several weeks ago, there are also things sprouting and re-rooting. The harrow's job is to even things out a bit, break up clods, things like that. It doesn't have to do it all in one pass and in fact cannot. This is not a machine that plows, disks and lays out your seed bed. Time is your friend with this modus operandi. I mean, what else are you going to be doing with a couple of perfect May mornings? And if you did actually have something else to do, it couldn't possibly be better than harnessing the horse and walking behind him for awhile, taking in that wonder rich smell of the good earth.

This is the second pass the first day. You can see there are still some clumps of perennials that are well rooted. A pass with a shovel took those out. And everything, all over, is getting more even.
This is the rest period place. Although he didn't blow much at all in doing the harrowing. Still, he gets to blow and cool off and rest.

This is the second pass on the second day. We didn't get any photos that really showed the consistency of the soil but it is good and rich although you can still tell the parts of it that have had more manure over the years and the parts that have had less. Our gardens have been worked twenty years and that is really what permaculture is about if you ask me.

And this? This is what we found when we quit harrowing the second day! We're now a three cow family! And then we went swimming. And those are only a few of the pleasures of life on the farm.

Addendum: or What I forgot to say when I got in a hurry:

I finished harrowing and walked the horse up to the house and took his harness off. Donkey didn't follow us right away to the field and so I left the gate open and looked around for the cow. I saw old cow down near the bottom. I took the horse path around the side of the knoll to get a view of more of the back bottom. When I caught a glimpse of new cow, she was facing away from me with her head in the grass like she was grazing but I could see afterbirth hanging. I hurried a bit knowing she was probably licking a baby but still thinking of all the other possibilities -- maybe she'd had it and it was stashed and she was grazing, maybe she hadn't had it yet, etc. When I got close enough to see that it was lying on the ground, flat out on the ground, not moving at all, with her licking it, I thought oh gawd it is dead over and over until I got close enough to see its eye and then I thought that eye is NOT dead! and all the while I was watching how she would react to me coming up to her this soon after birth, and if old cow was going to intrude too, and if either one of them was going to feel threatened by me. Old cow stayed back for a good while, new cow was a little concerned about my presence but not much. All the other animals gave the goings on a wide birth until introductions the following day.

Once again I will say that the hardest thing about midwifery is not interfering. Yet it is also the most important thing. Make sure nothing goes wrong but don't cause anything to go wrong yourself.


Kitt said...

Awwwww. Congrats!

My life has been somewhat harrowing lately, too. I wish it were more like your version.

jenny said...

Congrats on the new addition! That sounded like a great day!!

Wendy said...

...and then we went swimming.


We don't have enough room to harrow, which is good, because we don't have enough room for a horse, either, and I don't think I could talk my husband into pulling that thing, even the smaller one ... although walking behind him and patting his ass while he worked wouldn't be so bad *wink* ;).

Congrats on the new addition to your farm! That's awesome.

Alecto said...

I wonder if maybe I can rig something up although even my large bed is turned easily enough in a few days with a shovel. I'm thinking I should teach Simon to pull. He's supposed to be a cart dog anyway so why harrowing dog. pun pretty much intended.

I also think you've summed up perfectly what I was trying to say this morning but I wasn't nearly as succinct. Pleasures.

Alecto said...

why not harrowing dog.

Just a Girl said...

Awesome! And amazing and basic and comforting and delightful and elemental and fantastic and great and harrowing!! and inspiring and just plain right.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and story.

Cielo said...

Congratulations on the new baby!!

CG said...

Alecto, I could have sworn I commented on this already. My head hurts too bad from being too much in the heat today to do it now. But shovels are generally preferable although I'm sure Simon could do it.

This has happened now several times on your blog, that I swear I commented (and waited until after all the confirming I'm a person stuff is over) and then don't find a comment (several days later).

Thanks everyone! Baby is doing well!

clairesgarden said...

glad you have your new calf with no problems.
I had an argument the other day about what Abbey could or couldn't pull, she is only 14hh. I would like a small harrow for the riding area(its probably slightly smaller than the standard 20m x40m) to 'grade' it, and could not convince somebody that while Abbey could pull the one they had(for a mini tractor) she could certainley not work or pull it for any length of time. also she is not a driving pony so is unused to the work and would 'blister' much like their hands if they came to do my garden for a day.
Abbey might get a small grader if I can find somebody to make one that suits her. and then I'll have some fun teaching her to pull.