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2 years ago

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Without making this a thread that blames one political party versus the other (since probably both are to blame to some extent), I wanted to share something I just read:

"For Americans living in metropolitan areas, inflation-adjusted household income rose by 6 percent from 2014 to 2015—a robust bounce back from the recession. But for those living outside those areas­—totaling more than 40 million Americans—household income actually fell by 2 percent. The numbers on poverty reveal a similar trend. The number of people in poverty in rural areas did fall by 800,000, but that doesn’t appear to be because people are escaping poverty: Instead, people are simply leaving. The rural population, in that span of time, declined by five million people. Taken in total, the rural poverty rate actually rose slightly, by 0.2 percentage points. In the rest of country, the poverty rate declined by 1.4 percentage points."

Most, if not all of you live and work in rural areas. Making a living, especially independently, is tough. Very tough. But as it's important that we all strive to help maintain the knowledge of skills like working horses and mules, growing food and making things, you all play an active and integral part in keeping rural communities alive simply by making these areas your home. So keep up the good work. It isn't easy. But it's necessary.

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-09-14 14:56:27 (CST)

You are absolutely right, Brian, that both parties bear responsibility. What needs to change, though, is the kind of thinking, that allows so-called technological progress at the expense of people- no matter what- if it serves the profit of a few. Now , of course, there will always be differences of opinion, but we should at least discuss these matters openly and not act as if technological progress was a natural event that we can't influence. That is one of the advantages of Amish societies, they discuss in their communities which changes they want and which not. They may not always arrive at answers that others would agree with, but at least they discuss these matters. The non-Amish society lets it happen and then tries to cope with the consequences( and now I'll go back out to harvest cucumbers by hand ! Just took a short break, since I have the freedom to take it without being driven by a machine that needs to roll!).

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-09-14 20:11:51 (CST)

Brian, you nailed it. All of us are a bit guilty for standing by and not doing anything. We let mega box stores ram overseas goods up our keisters, especially those made in China. I am not opposed to equal goods for equal prices, but we settled for price and now good nails, bolts, water hoses and lots of other things are not worth a darn. The problem is, it is hard to find a replacement.
It is hard to buy American, so now I at least look for goods made by countries known for their workmanship. They are a much better alternative than the cheaply made inferior products that are out there to buy. Tools, drill bits, log chains just sicken me to use anymore. I am old enough to remember when things were much different and I miss those times.

Klaus you are spot on with your views on good discussions. We people should all at least be able to talk about the issues. No hidden agendas, just good discussion, opposition and consensus. Hell, we might even agree on a few things...wouldn't that move us all forward?!

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Mike Rock says 2016-09-15 02:13:07 (CST)

Klaus, and all the rest. Speaking of 'making things', what are the 'things' needed today in the horse drawn economy? New cultivator designs, new forecart designs...... primary and secondary tillage, hay handling equipment, hand powered/pushed planters and cultivators?
Being now retired and having a small fabrication shop I am looking for products to prototype for the community. Being an engineer with nothing creative to do is driving me stir crazy :)

Any ideas?

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2016-09-15 07:03:58 (CST)

It seems like, in my area at least, every other farm is for sale. I noted on my way to town the other day that I passed four farms in a row for sale, less than two miles from mine. Came home this weekend to find a real estate card stuck in my door with a note to call him if I wanted to sell and that he'd be back to talk to me either way. My neighbor and I were discussing how hard it was to find farm help this year and how it was getting tougher every year to get out crops in. He said that it seemed to him the best thing to do on a farm was to sell it. I disagreed, but I could see where he is coming from. He and I are the youngest farmers in our neighborhood, (we're both turning 48) and there are no kids in the area to take over. I honestly hate buying anything made over seas if I can help it. I try really hard to buy made in America if possible. If not, I try to buy older stuff and refurb if needed. I've not gotten into the tech stuff too much though. I don't use a cell phone, I don't watch t.v, and other than the computer, I'm pretty low tech, all things considered. Of course I also feel a bit out of the loop sometimes though.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-09-15 08:50:17 (CST)

Mike, we need better ground driven implements. Many vegetable growers like myself would be happy if we could get an in-line/in-row mower, so that we don't have to double-space the area between row crops.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Robert Dennis says 2016-09-15 09:58:46 (CST)

Interesting thread. There are many and varied reasons for most things in life, including this thread. Around here, most people leave because it is ranching country, not well suited for farming and most do not want to modify their lives in such a manner so as to be able to stay. Change. We all fight it. And when we live in a society that likes cheaper is better, things will always change and the advantage will always go to who can build or raise something cheaper.
I am seeing calf prices around 800 per head this fall when just a few years ago they were 1500 per head.. pretty hard for young people with nom equity built up, to weather this upcoming financial storm.. let alone the older people who have done it for hearts…
But, then, if ranching was easy, everybody would do it…

As to what to build… build something that allows for more work to be done with less effort on the part of your team… a plow that does more with a single team, etc.. we have the technology to build superior products.. the problem seems to be, if you build it out of newer material, it's usually more expensive, which brings us back to this discussion. If you can make it more efficient, for less cost, people will buy it, but you will be putting pressure on those who are building , using the old technology… and so then, I guess that would make you part of the problem!

Have a good day, all.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-09-15 15:12:01 (CST)

I think one of the obstacles in encouraging a new generation of farmers to help populate rural areas is land access and bridging the chasm between urban and rural. I believe there are many young couples living in cities who, if helped to make the leap, would embrace the benefits of rural living and, in many ways, harbor this as a life's dream. They just don't know where to begin! And while farms are for sale, too often (at least here in the Corn Belt) they are multi-million dollar parcels and not small diversified farms as most of us on this forum see it. So in some ways, finding a small farm is problematic, especially for someone who may be coming from a non-rural background with no agricultural experience.

I know in some states there are very good programs to aid in the process of bringing new farmers to land. (Vermont for example.) However, in most agricultural states you'd be treated like a space alien if you went to the county agent and said you were looking for a five acre farm and were serious about becoming a farmer. While that's land enough for a family to make a simple, honest living, the government is more interested in helping investment groups buy up precious land to rent out to grow "commodities" than assisting that aforementioned young couple continue America's agrarian legacy and grow food to feed people.

As for buying American, it is tough but possible for most necessities. And while sometimes more expensive than the overseas-made options, the superior build and long-term durability pays off.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-09-15 19:48:07 (CST)

On our farm we are using an old John Deere plow( probably 80 years old), an # 7 mower from IH ( 70yrs), a John Deere manure spreader of incalculable age, several other implements like riding one row cultivator, spike tooth harrows etc. all American made and proof that there was a time when things were made to last. But , of course, once the growth ideology took over completely( meaning when corporations didn't even acknowledge any responsibility towards the nation, only serving the management and the shareholders) , things had to be produced that were soon obsolete. What we have here is a system of rampant and unfettered capitalism which in the long run is self-destructive. And to go back to Brian's statement and what I said , too, both parties are responsible. The US two party system needs to be replaced by a system of proportional representation, in which no party ever has the power to rule alone, which means , that input from more sides needs to be heeded and extremist views from either side are impeded from taking over. Coalitions need to be built along issues, not along parties. But this of course also means that any gerrymandering has to be made impossible.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2016-09-16 06:04:47 (CST)

In my part of southwest Wisconsin, the nature of the land (tight valleys, small fields, scenic geography) is less conducive to "traditional" farming. Larger farms are now being broken up into smaller "hobby" farms that are being bought up by both retiree as well as younger urban dwellers. My observation is that the urban outlook on farming stimulates creativity on these small holdings. These "new" farmers have no idea how to farm traditionally and it's a good thing. They come up with innovative ideas that work for them on these small holdings.

I once asked one of the old local farmers why they didn't raise something other than a rotation of corn, soybeans and hay and milk cows. The answer I got was that these fourth generation farmers didn't know how to plant nor market anything else. Besides, they already had equipment that worked specifically with these traditional crops. And, indeed, they had entire new metal barns built to house the largest and most expensive tractors, etc., equipment much more appropriate to level land farms in Iowa next door. They truly could not afford to deviate because they had to come up with huge payments to the bank to pay for these "symbols of success." These same people had worked hard to send their 4 daughters to college. The girls found urban husbands and no one wanted to take over the farm. These people were, literally, stuck.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2016-09-16 08:00:11 (CST)

Klaus, you are so right! I have long been a critic of the two-party system where winner takes all and the loser, if only by a very small margin, must submit to the desires of the winner. Big segments of the population are disenfranchised. Coalition governments have their minuses (lack of stability is one), however, the inclusion of all (over 5%) views within the government brings great diversity of thinking. I am also a proponent of co-operative industries where the worker/owners are a part of the management process.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-09-16 08:02:28 (CST)

Right on, Nora, " these people are stuck". And you are also right about young urban people who take up farming, often on very small acreages. There is enthusiasm and innovation. I just wish we could see more of that in rural areas, and the courage of breaking out of old habits and molds.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-09-16 10:05:00 (CST)

Nora, it will probably take quite some time till the populace of this country realizes that the much vaunted American system in politics is working against the common people. In order to come to that conclusion people will not only have to become much more informed about how this system and other systems work BUT WILL HAVE TO GIVE UP ON NATIONALISTIC HUBRIS. Much of the present uneasiness and discontent in the population with the direction of the country is vague and oblivious of the real reasons of the state of affairs, as I have tried to point out several times in the course of the last few years on the Front Porch. I am afraid the country will be tested much more rigorously in the near future when the times of cheap oil will come to their inevitable end and the polarity of the two party system has prevented either side to prepare the people for the consequences in due time, because neither one wants to be the messenger of such unwelcome news.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Vicki says 2016-09-16 10:45:26 (CST)

Mike Rock: please consider collaborating with Tillers International on equipment innovations. I have more to chime in on this vital discussion, but no time right now. But one small thing: simply buying local from a private business, rather than a corporate chain, goes a long way to keep the dollars in your own community. In my area, some of the oldtime rural folks are in the habit of just Walmarting and HomeDepoting for everything. It's suicide.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-09-19 14:51:35 (CST)

Right on Vicki

Mike Rock, Vicki is right. A couple of years ago at Horse Progress days, there was a young man from Uganda ( I believe ) He was demonstrating some simple, yet effective, equipment that he had made with the help and guidance with folks from Tiller's and from Pioneer equipment.
The pieces were made from materials that were easy to get in his country. I'm talking about re-bar, old bicycle parts and metal from shipping containers.
The story was very interesting. The equipment was well done. They had a single row cultivator and a seeder. The seeder used bicycle parts, some plastic and metal. Both pieces were very well done.
Dick, at Tiller's is a very knowledgeable, humble man. He could answer questions and share information that may lead you into a new business. For sure it will leave you feeling good, especially if you can help.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-09-19 21:37:20 (CST)

Tillers International is doing great work. I just wish it were in their repertoire to replace the ancient and animal-unfriendly yoke with a different style of hitching for oxen. They certainly have the knowledge -- people who use oxen would get more tractive power out of their animals.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-09-21 21:19:22 (CST)

Mike- Small scale grain processing equipment that's affordable. If you want a real challenge, a good, sturdy, dependable huller that can handle rice or things like emmer. Something to fill the gap between a hand mill jerry-rigged with a rubber gasket and a commercial unit that costs $$$. Locally grown grain is the next big thing. Problem is, if you want something other than corn, the processing becomes exponentially difficult.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Mike Rock says 2016-09-21 22:46:21 (CST)

Funny you should mention that. We are getting our mills up and running. I have thought about fabricating a Meadows type mill and a smaller scale rotary bolter.

Where in Illinois are you located?


2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2016-09-23 07:42:44 (CST)

Mike- We're in Grundy County, a bit north of Mazon. In addition to produce, we grow field corn and grind that for cornmeal, grits, and polenta. Would like to explore small grains but the hulling part is vexing. Where are you located?

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Mike Rock says 2016-09-23 15:52:44 (CST)

We're just north of the state line, in Green County. NW of Monroe, NE of Argyle, Argyle address.

Just went and picked up another welder and was trading ideas with my better half on product design. We can fab any sized mill. I have a 'bunch' of 24" Meadows type mills and am used to that size as to power and output. My bolters are all flour mill reclaimed pieces. Some are still screened, some not.

Times have changed and the wooden mills and bolters are somehow out of step with modern mandates by state and government folks. Nothing wrong with wooden structures health wise but they seem to think we are all children and need their guidance......don't get me going.

What mill sizes are any folks thinking of, either by stone size or tons per day throughput? Or pounds per week...... I am open to all.

The rotary bolters (sizing screens) are what I am used to but the shaker screen types are easy to build too. Shaking screens have an advantage in some ways as you can change sizing more readily. The right design will let you buy screen from an industrial source, cut it with your scissors or tin snips and simply bolt and stretch it into the shaker.

Making all this out of food grade stainless is not a problem, but is of course more costly than 'old fashioned' wood.

You can email me at to take this off the board here if you wish.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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