planet junior seeder

It has been a long time coming, but I finally tested out the Planet Junior horsedrawn seeder I purchased over 2 years ago. This past winter, John helped me put the finishing touches on the machine by building a steel tongue and setting it up with the double tree. Once back home this spring, I spent some time in the shop cleaning up the rusty gunk off as best I could by taking apart many pieces, grinding off the rust with wire brushes, painting them, then reassembling the machine. So finally this July I decided to test it out.

We had a small plot where we planned to sow a cowpea cover crop. Instead of broadcasting and incorporating using the cultimulcher or harrow, I used the planet junior by sliding the four shoes close together, then riding back and forth across the field overlapping the wheel base marks to give an even sowing.

The seeder can be used for most crops, including turnips, beets, carrots, peas, beans, corn, brassicas. The one consideration is that one must want a significant space seeded in order to make efficient use of the machine. At our scale, there aren’t many cash crops that would necessitate its use. But I am glad to have the tool in my shed for when I will want to use it.

The first sowing shown in this photos was unfortunately uneven, as seed came out at an acceptable rate in only two of the four hoppers. We are now bare fallowing the field where we had thought to sow this cover crop, hoping to germinate and kill some weed seeds before planting the garlic slated for planting in October.  I plan on trying out the seeder again soon after making some adjustments.

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Ecomusée d’Alsace

On my recent trip to France, Leila and I got to visit the Ecomusée d’Alsace, a historical village in southern Alsace where employees dress and work in traditional Alsatian style. They cook, bake, knit, sew, garden, work in wood and metal shops, distill eaux de vie, grow wine grapes, milk cows and goats, and use draft animals for growing potatoes, corn, grains and loose hay. They have three Comtois horses and two Vosges oxen that they were using around the property the whole day we were there. More photos below.

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I was privileged to take off a few weeks this summer to travel in France with Leila and my Dad. Here are some photos of things we saw (and ate).  I developed a love for the moutains of eastern France: Haute-Provence, Haute-Alps, Drôme, Isère, Savoie. So many beautiful peaks, valleys and emerald green lakes and rivers to swim in. I just don’t know if I would want to farm their rocky soils. Many thanks to Leila again for her wonderful translating and directing, and to my dad for treating us to some really beautiful meals.

Good to be back on the farm, but I do miss the food and the stone buildings…

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Just in case you were wondering…sometimes we herd pigs too.

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first hilling of spuds

A quick post to share a few photos of potato hilling. Here is Emily on the first hilling, May 16th. Second hilling was a week later, May 23rd. Our third and final hilling was a week later, May 30th. At that point, all the dirt that could be hilled was, and we had our first new potato harvest mid-June, two weeks earlier than last year’s fourht of July red/white/blue new potato harvest. Happy that we have managed to move that date up! Now if only we could figure out how to get rid of the potato beetles…

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Since getting the straddle row cultivator this spring, I have been excited to experiment with different tools mounted under the versatile machine. Like the famed Allis Chalmers G or Farmall Cub my peers of the internal combustion persuasion utilize, this tool can help maximize efficiency in many ways on the small farm. My primary inspiration for getting to know my new machine has been and continues to be the excellent, thorough, innovative Small Farmer’s Journal articles written by Eric & Anne Nordell of Beech Grove Farm. Oh, and by the way–if you’re not a subscriber yet, I highly recommend it.

What follows is a collection of thoughts and photos surrounding our experiments using the straddle row cultivator so far this year at the farm. Continue Reading »


Every April, the misfits and weirdos into the whole draft horse craze gather to party wildly in the desert. It is kind of like burning man, without all the trippy drugs, and different kinds of costumes. And maybe a few other differences.

This year, many good friends and lots of interesting strangers all met at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds of Madras, Oregon to buy and sell a lot of antique and some newly manufactured equipment all related to driving horses. Joel & I stayed through the whole auction this time, lending some time volunteering in the blacksmithing sale and on the arena floor on Saturday. We came for the plow match and equipment demos on Wednesday, and on Friday’s farm equipment sale I ended up buying a couple of items.

One of the other activities during the week was an open meeting thrown by the WA Young Farmers Coalition and Oregon’s Friends of Family Farmers. Lynn Miller from SFJ came and spoke to us about the future of the journal–subscriptions are down, and it might not be around much longer if things don’t change. How can we, as young and beginning farmer/teamsters help? Subscribe. Get your friends to subscribe. Participate. And spread the word. So…

For those of you who haven’t signed up with a subscription to the Small Farmer’s Journal yet, you can read Andrew’s well-written essay on why you should, and go sign up now.

And hopefully I’ll see you there next year, too.

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