Quitting time

We passed this handsomely matched team of six (five Chestnuts (one is out of view to the left) and one gray) late this afternoon. They were pulling a round baler on our side of the road and we followed until the driver pulled aside to let us by. Four hours later we traveled the same road home and passed the very same team as they waited patiently, still fully hitched, in their approach to home. If you know what to look for you can make out a large engine on a steel-wheeled cart and the tell-tale green and yellow of a John Deere round baler just behind. We were traveling north when we spotted the group and stopped. I left the car running, got out, and approached. Although they blinked with what I took to be curiosity there was little show of concern and much evidence of very good training. The lot of them stood rock solid, even as I got quite close and knelt low to the ground to silhouette them against the evening sky. Handsome, powerful, hard-working, intelligent, willing … what else can I say … except very, very, impressive.

6 thoughts on “Quitting time

  1. Just curious, are there folks other than the Amish that still farm this way? They are incredible animals … I like how, in your picture, their front legs are highlighted. It looks magical, like a visible flow of energy and strength. Lovely!

    1. Absolutely there are folks that continue to use draft (there is even a draft horse journal). Check out http://www.draftanimalpower.com. Farming using traditional methods is still practised by those (nonAmish) who love draft animals, the old tools and techniques, or both. Draft is also used by those who want to farm in a strictly sustainable way. Check out some of the photos at the website of Earthwise Farm and Forest (http://www.earthwisefarmandforest.com). Our friends from Indiana, L+M, used to farm with draft horses. American Milking Devon oxen are very well known as strong, steady, and reliable workers. Howie van Ord, the gentleman who sold me my first Devon (Ruby), was very well known as a breeder and trainer. He was older when I met him and was still using Devons to do light work around the farm. Thanks for asking – you know me, I’ve got an answer for everything. You can always tell a Harvard man … do you know how the joke ends? D

      1. So interesting. Even with all of things that I love to do that might cause others to wonder why I “waste” my time, I can’t imagine farming to any significant degree with draft animals and without heavy machinery. Pretty intense (Just like camping! Get it?)! No, I don’t know the end of your joke, because I did not go to Harvard, but I’m sure that is the only thing I didn’t learn at good old LHU 🙂

    1. Wow, that was fast. I only posted this a few minutes ago. I’m glad you appreciated the image. Seeing these guys was simply one of those serendipitous moments. We were driving home from State College – and there they were. A quick U-turn was all that was required. They were quite something. I really admire and respect the folks that farm with draft – I really, really, do. D PS: Thanks for being a dedicated follower!

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