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2 years ago

15
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I feel like my horses are the opposite. 18hh percherons : )

I like the fjords and I'm curious about the pros and cons. Do you work with them? What are their limitations? How much can they pull all day? Curious to learn more.

Billy Foster says 2016-08-10 12:07:30 (CST)



I don’t use Fjords but do use Haflingers. I have found if you are trying to do field work with them 2 have a difficult time but three are pretty efficient. For gardens and wagons a team of Haflingers are very productive.
Billy


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-08-10 20:39:24 (CST)



Weight moves weight. One cannot expect horses to break that rule. Of course, that doesn't rule out that horses with less weight wouldn't occasionally through their heart and willingness do more than what one would have expected them to do. When horses get excited and have to strain then you can assume that you put more pull behind them than what they are used to or are naturally capable of. Exercising can help but only to a certain extent. For example, a six foot mower in heavy grass is definitely too much for two Fjords or Haflingers.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2016-08-11 00:31:50 (CST)



I use halfinger's I don't farm sometimes plow the garden otherwise when I need more I hook up 4 abreast, esp when breaking another team. otherwise use 900-1000 lbs team of mules. our hay is not heavy here so mow with just 1 team I haven't hooked 3 up just yet but I will some day just to say that I did


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-08-11 06:24:58 (CST)



I had a neighbor who worked Fjords and really liked them. He plowed with a 12 inch vulcan walking plow, mowed with a number 9 with a five foot bar, did all his field work, got in all his fire wood, spread a lot of manure, and I've seen him haul some pretty big loads of ice from the creek up hill to the ice house with his team of "small" horses. I'd say common sense would have to rule here the same as pretty much everywhere. Don't expect a small team to do what a big team is capable of at it's max, but then how many of us max out our team's pulling powers on a regular basis? Most horse owners I know don't use their teams to their fullest potential anyway. In our part of the country seventy or more years ago, it was rare to see a horse weighing over a thousand pounds and 900 and less was more common. I personally think it all boils down to work what you like, and you'll find a way to make it work. When the work ain't getting done, then think about adding more or bigger horse power, or deciding does it all need to be done in one day or one trip or can more breaks and more loads accomplish the same results with the same satisfaction. Just my two cents worth, but then I work mules so what do I know.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Bird says 2016-08-13 08:49:54 (CST)



Thanks for all your thoughts. I was thinking, too, along the lines of Jerry; that is, that horses "back in the day" weren't as big.

If I were a horse breeder, I'd be interested in breeding the old style percherons. I think there are a lot of people interested in them.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-08-13 15:34:20 (CST)



Now, come on Jerry, you know a lot. And we all know that ! Your advice is sound.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Wes Lupher says 2016-08-15 00:09:54 (CST)



I agree with Jerry and Klaus.
It takes weight to move weight. Matching your team to the work.
It would be hard for me to use smaller horses for a good part of the time.
Have used 4 mules to do quite a bit, if you have the ability or space to keep a third horse (or fourth) when needed it would help like Mr. Fox says. But will you be any better off than you were with a pair of big horses?


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-08-16 06:46:33 (CST)



When I first started farming on my own, I began with a pair of farm chunks, Percheron/ Tennessee walking horse cross mares. They weighed about 1300 each and neither had much farm experience. They had been used on on wagon trips for the previous two years and were aged 5 and 6 when I bought them, they were not what I thought I needed, but they did fit my budget. I spent a lot of time thinking I should "up grade" to something bigger, and flashier. My mares were very ignorant about a lot of things, but then so was I, but I found the more I used them the better they, and I got. They were really fast at first. Way too fast for plowing, but a winter spent hauling round bales up a hill (about a 200 foot rise) with about a 3/4 mile haul with a sled (I couldn't afford a wagon) soon slowed them down. By spring they were walking at a pace I could stand to follow and we got a long fine on a walking plow. After that first bout of plowing, disking and dragging, they didn't act up much the first time they were hooked to a mowing machine and after a few fields dropped they were content to stand while we forked hay onto the wagon and hauled it to the stacks. I traded a lot of work at this point, with my Amish neighbors and I always marveled at what they got done with their teams. I was helping an Amish friend get in some hay one day, and I was walking along beside the wagon, watching his team. They were miss matched draft crosses, one showed a good bit of pony in his back ground, the other was Belgian and anyone's guess, but I'm sure her brain came from a canary. She was a bit goofy. His driving skills weren't any that I would aspire to, and his wagon was make shift. I studied all that while we got the hay in, which we did in an impressive amount of time. His wife brought us some food and we sat in the shade eating, and I was till taking in the experience I had just had, and it clicked. I realized, that we did everything we had just done under less than ideal conditions, but by making the best of what we had. I looked around his farm, and I noted the high spots and the low spots and how things had changed over the years since I had come to know him. Everything had a purpose on his place. There was no place for flash or show and if it didn't work it didn't stay. He used everything he had to it's utmost and when he outgrew it, he replaced it for something better. I came home that evening and re-evaluated my own team, and set up and my equipment, and I realized I may not have had exactly what I thought I wanted, but I actually had more than I needed. I wasn't using my stock or equipment to it's fullest potential as it was, and I sure didn't need more. I kind of came away with a new paradigm after that. I began to evaluate the weak points in my operation and began to work to improve those and then get bigger and better where necessary, and to think about down sizing in other areas. That little team aged out over the years and was eventually replaced, but I still look back now, and say that they were the best team I ever owned and I'm still impressed with what I accomplished with them. The gray mare that I swore was an idiot after I bought her, now a days I brag about what a furrow mare she was and how she not only could walk a grass line without a bobble, but she was one of the few horses I've worked that knew to walk just the right distance out of the grass before she would side pass to keep the inside wheel in place and bring the cutter bar around to just the right spot to begin mowing again. The point I'm making is, that if you take what you have, (or want, if you are fortunate to be able to have that) and use it to it's full potential and really use it, you find that you do get out of it exactly what you put in, and often times what you have is suddenly exactly what you need because you have made it into what it should be. Yeah, there were times when I'd be mowing with my little team, and look over the fence and see my neighbor with his tractor drop ten acres in the time I could drop one of my own, and think, "I wish I could do that!" but then I remembered, that I worked horses because that is what I enjoy doing, and if dropping large areas of hay was that important, then perhaps I needed to get a tractor and move on, or else find ways to find satisfaction and contentment in what I was doing. So, in the end, I found for me, it was more important to drop four or five acres a day, rake it, haul it and stack it, appreciate what the team and I learned and accomplished together and appreciate how pretty the grass was pressed in the stack, and how sweet it smelled and how it all got done, but over weeks rather than hours, and I slept better at night. Now, that's a long winded way of trying to explain why it's important to work what you like and enjoy.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Mike Rock says 2016-08-16 13:06:58 (CST)



Jerry,
That is the finest single post I have ever seen, on Rural Heritage or any other draft animal site.

My hat is off to you, sir!


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

So. Oh. Bill says 2016-08-17 21:18:23 (CST)



Jerry, What a wonderful post !!!! That is the best thing that have read in a long time. Thank you.
Bill Lemar


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Jonathan Shively says 2016-08-18 13:29:21 (CST)



Jerry, as others have said, a wonderful truly true story.
Like my computer and brain I do not use my team to its fullest.

I have resisted posting as I am still not "using" my team. My arm is doing better and do believe I can trust it very soon. What I have been doing is driving shetland ponies (reliving my childhood I guess!).

We bought 4 ponies for the grandkids so we have five ponies and three mini donkeys. The donkeys are only pets at this time. The ponies, I shopped hard and have a group of ponies we enjoy using.

About the Fjords. I will tell you I greatly enjoy their attitude. My brother thought I was nuts getting them, his experience was with a bratty Fjord that I met later and was a little surprised. Mine, from day one, if you allowed it (any behavior) they would repeat it. Good or bad. But I did a lot of farm work with small gas engines behind them, with little to no trouble. My one mare Fanny, is as steady as a rock. Mae can be a pistol, she hates to be fly sprayed, have to trim her mane with scissors. She has a couple of times just jumped up and bucked in place, one buck, to show her displeasure, but then on to work with no further back talk. They are willing workers, bright eyed, energetic, up on the lines, not runaways, people pleasing ponies.

During my recuperation, they were (and still are) the most loving team I have ever had (have had a few teams over the years). They will come to be petted, talked to, or just hang their head near me. During my recuperation and a walk to the barn was a milestone and required time to rest before returning to the house, this team did more positive things for my blood pressure than all of the blood pressure medicine in the world.

Are they for everyone? No. But that is why there are more breeds of equine, makers of trucks, and brands of clothes. Not everyone likes the same thing (thank goodness!).

Growing up, my dad had a team of Belgian studs. We worked them, mowed, raked, wagon rides. After I got married and went to college dad sold them to an Amish community (they were going to breed them and use them in a shared situation). Next time we saw the guys that bought Bob and Ben when asked, they said they cut one of them, getting ready to cut the other one, they were not manageable as studs! I didn't understand this phenomena until I bought my farm and dad was still able to care for horses. I used his barn as a staging area for horses I bought so our horses wouldn't catch something. Dad would tell me all about the horses, who was dominant, their behavior, etc. They would come to my barn and many times almost opposite. So, the way I reported my horses to customers, once they got the horse home, could have been 100% wrong. There is always something. Sorry for my rambling.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-08-19 05:48:59 (CST)



I appreciate the kind words on my "opinion" on smaller horses. I really do think it is a matter of deciding on what fits in ones operation and making the most of it. What I take away from Jonathon's post is that there really is no substitute for time. What ever we have to work with, it (and oftentimes, ourselves) will be improved proportionately to the amount of time spent together. We worked a lot of things when I was a kid at home. We never really had any really big stock, but with our farm we really didn't need size. Our place was mostly hillside with a few small patches of flat ground here and there. A horse approaching the ton size couldn't have turned around in some of the patches we plowed. We used a lot of ponies, pony mules and small horses and mules up to about the 1,000 to 1200 pound range. As my grandpa and later myself, traded a lot we really didn't keep anything long enough to get to put too much time into it,with a few exceptions, but we managed to get things done with what we had. I have a neighbor who would explain that by saying "poor people often have poor ways". I struggle all the time to find the balance in my own farming operation of what I have, what I want, and what I need. I think the more diversified the operation the harder that may be to determine, so I may never completely answer that question for myself but I tell a lot of people who come to the farm, "Any faults or shortcomings they see in the place shouldn't be blamed on using horses, but on the man using the horses." My mules are good but they still aren't good enough to harness themselves and get the work done. I have never been good at planning and organizing but the more I do that the better things seem to fall into place. I've tried hard to develop a farm plan and then a plan for each facet of the operation and that helps to determine what is needed to get it done. Some things are feasible for me and my team, some things I have been ahead to hire out. I have seen time and again that, for my situation anyway, there are never enough hands to get the work done. I believe this is why farming is always better if it's a family operation. I'm probably straying from the original topic of working Fjords, but the basis of what I saying is I think, that if you have a plan and know what you are doing and what is required to get it done, then you will have a pretty good grasp on what it takes to do it. You might be able to pull a barn with a pair of really big horses, but if all you need to pull is a 12 inch plow you'll do fine with a smaller pair. Once you've established what is actually needed, then the notion of preference and what makes you smile while you work comes in and then you need to do some figuring on how to make that fit in. If you want something smaller, maybe you need to put three or more together, and if you like larger animals, maybe you really only need one, if it has the right attitude.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Mike Rock says 2016-08-21 19:12:14 (CST)



Bird,
Drop me an email.
Valerie
mikerock@mhtc.net


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Bird says 2016-08-24 15:54:48 (CST)



I'm follow with you Jerry, very much. I sat with a friend today who is a poet and she is applying for a grant to give her some time to write. The granting agency wants to know what a person wants to do and why. I shared with her your words about "making full use of what you have." Indeed, to be fully aware and operating on all cylinders, be they mechanical, horse flesh, or poetry, is to be truly alive.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-08-25 10:12:39 (CST)



Bird, I read your post early this morning and I've been pondering on it some while working on a mowing machine this morning. I think what I hear you saying is something akin to finding the "art" or "craftsmanship" in things in our day to day lives, whether it's farming, industry, or even poetry. To my way of looking at it, that is one of the biggest things missing in conventional agriculture, it's like the heart is ripped out of it, and without the heart and soul it lumbers along like a monster of some sort. That's not true, of course of every operation, and I'm not trying to denigrate those who make their living in conventional agriculture, or more precisely industrial agriculture, but I believe it is apt on some level and in many cases. I had an interesting childhood, to say the least. As some folks here know, I was raised in Eastern Kentucky on a subsistence farm by my grandparents. They weren't "church going" Christians, but they both were Christians, though with differing backgrounds that lead to some animosity between them. They didn't force us kids to attend a church but they raised us with some Biblical admonitions such as "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." And I remember my grandmother telling me that I should do my work as though I was working for the Lord himself and He'd be along to inspect it just any moment, and that it didn't matter if I worked as a CEO or digging ditches, I should do it as best I could. I think I followed that train of thought in most of my career, but it's only been in recent years that the light has come on, so to speak, to let me realize that it's okay to follow that line of thinking in my own work. My partner as well as some of my hired help gets a little put out with me they ask how I want something done, and I reply, "the best you can do, is bad enough", meaning do your best and that's what I expect. Very seldom have I ever had exactly what I thought I needed to work for myself, and it seems like I've always been making do, but it does get better every year. Some years it's hard to see it, but there is usually some progress there if I look hard enough. I think if you think you would enjoy working a pair of Fjords, and have access to a team, you'll find a way to make it work, either by fitting the work to the horses or fitting the horses to the work, maybe by not expecting the job to get done in an hour but by allowing a bit more time, or adding more horse power ( it's always nice to have a spare, no matter how large a team you have! ) Just like everything else, it's always a challenge and finding ways to meet that challenge is part of the fun. If everyone did everything the same and always with the same outcome, it would be a pretty boring world, but by doing the best you can, and appreciating the experience, good or bad, learn from those experiences if you can, and and most important, finding the joy in what you do, is what, I believe, makes it all worth while and keeps us at it.


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum


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