A Cutting Edge Return to Old Traditions: Farming with Draft Animal Power

New farmers, returning to old traditions and using cutting edge knowledge, learn to “think like a horse” and farm with draft animals.

With the rising cost of fuel and farm equipment, more farmers are turning 2014 Draft Animals (1)towards a centuries old tradition: farming with draft animals.  Even though farming with draft animals is a seven thousand year old technology, new farmers don’t have to utilize ancient equipment or ideas.  Instead, they can utilize cutting edge technology and innovative ideas to move towards fuel-independent farming.

Traditionally, the skills required to work with draft animals were passed down through oral tradition, but with more and more young people choosing farming as a career, rather than inheriting it, there has become a need for a different way to gain this knowledge and experience.  Donn Hewes, of Northland Sheep Dairy and Donn’s Teamster School in Marathon, NY, has become passionate about passing on the almost-lost art of training and driving draft animals.

On Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd, Donn’s Teamster School and the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming will host a two day Draft Animal Practicum designed to provide new farmers with hands-on experience in driving draft horses.  “This workshop will help folks better understand how draft horses and mules think and why they do what they do,” Hewes says.  “It’ll be a fun learning experience for anyone just getting started with horses.  We’ll spend time focusing on how we prepare animals for success at farm work.”

Genevieve DeClerck, an aspiring farmer who participated in 2011 Draft Animal Practicum says, “The draft horse workshop at Northland was incredible. Literally one of the coolest things I’ve ever participated in EVER.”

What, Where, When

How Draft Horses & Mules Think Horse : Training Methods for Beginning Teamsters

Saturday & Sunday, May 2-3, 9 AM – 3PM

Location: Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Tuition: $150 for one day,  $250 for two days. Tuition Assistance is available for those with limited financial resources.

To register please visit www.groundswellcenter.org or call 607-319-5095

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