Daniel and I went with our new friend Ferd to an Amish auction near Ovid, NY today. We pulled up to the farm where the auction was being held and were greeted first by the auctioneer's ramble, constant, rhythmic and punctuated by the frequent HO! and YAHH! of the ringmen (yelling each time they saw a new bid). With this background noise we watched (and were adrift in) a sea of straw hats which moved through the mud (it's mud season now, I suppose) from miscellaneous goods (with a brief stopover in the kitchen area, where we procured hot chili soup and doughnuts) to the sale of equipment, and finally the sale of horses, for which Ferd had traveled to this particular auction. We watched Ferd expertly assess a pair of Belgians and decide a mare named Jenny (item #93 at this auction) was right for him, and watched maybe a hundred thousand dollars worth of goods and equipment sell before we made our way to the area where horses would be sold. About 100 men, mostly Amish, had crammed into the basement of a barn, leaving space for teams to be driven past the audience. A pair of Belgians, 18 and 22 years respectively, were sold for almost $2000 each. A beautiful 5 year old gelding (whom an auctioneer ran back and forth down the track, very exciting in a space as enclosed as this) sold for $3000. Then Ferd's team came up. The auctioneer started the bidding at higher than Ferd said he'd pay for it, and we left briefly after. "You win some, you lose some," was Ferd's final assessment of the affair.
We watched a whole farm sell, all of the equipment you'd need to start a diverse operation (as this one was), all over the span of a few hours. The circumstances behind this auction were very sad- a young farmer with a family had died in a tragic accident involving the fumes from fermenting silage in his silo. Ferd said everything was selling high because the community wanted to support the affected family. Aside from being mostly horse farmers and thus huge potential allies for the draft/ sustainable farming movement, the way the community interacts is really interesting and I think we can learn a lot from them about living in communities.
On a lighter note, many members of this community were wearing Muck boots. Which means that (along with bicycles, scooters and the Amish shave pattern) Muck boots and their spin-offs are an appropriate technology for the rest of the world. Cool. I'm a recent convert, the only thing I don't like about them is that they don't have very much traction on the bottom and I have fallen more than once. Embarrassing.
Also, there were some great potential photographs there, sorry there are none here but we were unsure of this particular community's thoughts on photography and didn't want to offend anyone. You'll have to go to one yourself to see.2) FARMHACK AT NORTHLAND
Northland is hosting a Farm Hack event! We're going to convert an old Allis Chalmers tractor to a ground driven PTO forecart.
A forecart is a simple two wheeled cart that allows the horses to pull lots of equipment that would have been hitched to the back of a tractor 30 or 50 years ago. A basic forecart will pull ground driven manure spreaders, hay rakes, and lots of other stuff. For a horse farmer that wants to pull a PTO driven piece of equipment there are two choices: a small motor (24 hp) on the forecart or a ground driven forecart. The ground driven carts are commercially available for $4000-5000. I think we can make one from the parts of an old tractor for a lot less. The tractor we have in mind is a Allis Chalmers WD 45. This tractor has about the right overall weight and a good set up between the transmission and the PTO. I hope to use the new ground driven PTO cart to run a modern hay tedder and rake. There are other possiblities -- a snow blower, a combine?
So, awesome, and you should totally come. Farmhacks are really cool, just ask Daniel, he's more or less a Farmhack groupie (but now he's organizing one now so I don't mean that in a derogatory way). Not familiar with Farmhack? Check out farmhack.net, and the National Young Farmers' Coalition while you're at it.3) SEEDER
I'm about to buy an Earthway seeder because we need a cheap one unless someone comes out of the woodwork and says they want to sell us their used seeder.
|The bad (controversial) mamma jamma at work in the field. Sell us yours? source:organic.kysu.edu.|
4) ON BLOG SYNTAX/ STRUCTURE
I understand I am prone to a liberal interpretation of the proper use of parenthesis, and that my sentence structure can be, at times, byzantine. I have recently received both negative and positive comments on this subject in relation to this blog. For those belonging to the former camp, I am working on it. For those in the latter, thanks for your support as I aspire to be the David Foster Wallace of parentheses (or to be for parentheses what Michael Chabon is for the comma. I'm reading Kavalier and Clay right now, MAN does that guy use a lot of commas). I used to use semicolons with the same frequency as I use vowels, we should all be glad that phase is over.