In The Draft Horse Primer, Maurice Telleen had written that if only two implements designed specifically for use with horses were still manufactured, he wished they would be a mowing machine and a manure spreader. As a relative greenhorn farmer and a serious student of anything draft-horse-related, I took his opinion to heart. In 1976, stretching our limited capital, I rushed to buy a brand-new "Bauman" spreader which I just learned was made by a small Mennonite family-run company in Ontario, Canada. There was a several-months-long waiting period because, given their set-up, only a limited number could be made per year. It had a heavy, hot-galvanized body with an easily replaceable wooden floor -- excellent durability features -- but it set us back $1,400. It may well have been the only horse drawn line manufactured in North America then, and Telleen probably never knew of that little shop. A few years later some other small ground-driven spreaders came on the market in the USA; but not a mower. The only new ones I had heard of were made in Britain -- pie in the sky for most North American homesteaders. (If I remember correctly, the price was over $3,000 plus freight across the ocean, which was a big pile of cash in the mid '70's...)

Instead I amassed a collection of about fifteen old mowers of various makes and states of disrepair, but all of them for less than $500 total. In New Brunswick, with virtually no Amish or Mennonites, the countryside was still littered with these old jewels, some free for the hauling away. I restored many of them to good working condition, tried out at least one of each model and settled on my favourites. These I kept, along with plenty of parts and sold the rest to other "nutcases" like myself. Thirty years later, with the price of scrap steel on a rise, much of the "junk" has been cleaned up; thus a newcomer to the horse-farming scene here (as well as elsewhere) may no longer find a bonanza of old mowers with spares for parts. This is going to become a serious challenge in the days to come.

Of course, another trend had, already by the '80s, alleviated some of the despair that folks like Telleen may have felt -- the popularizing of the versatile forecart. When these "Amish tractors" reached the developmental stage of the "Teamster 2000" model, many implements manufactured for use with tractors could be happily hauled by draft animals, with the teamster's rear on a cushioned seat... That, however, had never been my cup of tea. Whenever possible I preferred to walk behind the horses because it seemed a fairer arrangement of "teamwork". I know that it brought me down to earth in yet another sense than literally with the soles of my feet (I rarely put on shoes during the summer). Besides, an engine of any kind takes much of the romance away from the homesteading experience, and I never could understand why so many gardeners with relatively small plots seem content to churn the soil with the noisy and earthworm-chopping rototillers. In any case, a forecart with a motor-driven PTO and hydraulics is definitely not what I would lug along onto the Ark....

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