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Horse farming is hard work, but to quote an old horse farmer, "…no harder than any other work." The joy of hard physical work is something I have discovered only recently. And the joy of horses is something that has been dormant in me for many years. My parents published a horse magazine when we lived in California called California Horse Review, so I spent a lot of time at horse shows as a kid. Some of that love of horses that was in the air at all those horse shows rubbed off on me.

Since then I have read (lots) books and articles, talked to draft horse farmers, and watched draft horses at work (I have also developed a dislike for power equipment). Horse farming fits in nicely with the concepts of sustainable agriculture. The combination equals a love affair with draft horses.

  • Draft horses are easier on the land, so you can work the soil when it is too wet for a tractor.
  • Draft horses help grow their own fuel. Why pay for fossil fuels when you can grow your own renewable fuel?
  • Draft horses reproduce. I defy any tractor salesman to demonstrate how his equipment will replace itself, let alone produce a potential surplus that can be sold.
  • Draft horse exhaust is good for the soil. Tractor exhaust contributes to the ozone hole and global warming.
  • Draft horses don't require hearing protection to operate, allowing you to live while you work.
  • Draft horses have names, brains, and personalities. Tractors just have brand names, model numbers, and serial numbers.
  • Draft horses force you to think about what you are doing because you work more slowly.
  • A draft horse will start, no matter how cold it is.
  • Draft horses like to work. A tractor doesn't give a damn.
  • A draft horse is an intelligent partner. A tractor is a brainless slave.

Is horse farming practical? Not if you want to farm half the county. But they're great for smaller (under 160 acres) farms.

Is it cheaper? Horse farming can't possibly be worse than worrying about how you're going to pay for that new tractor and a season's fuel. Cash is usually in short supply on a farm, but food (for people and animals) rarely runs low.

Is horse farming profitable? Not if you like to eat at the Ritz, but you can live comfortably and (more importantly) happily.

Page created 2/6/96.
Last updated 03/17/03 at 14:36.

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