Feedback on the Walking Plow

A young reader with experience using a walking plow offers some tips on plowing with horses.
By John Seward
November/December 1974
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It's better to use a team of horses than a single horse with a walking plow, according to the author.

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I just finished reading the article "Walking Plows: Types of Plows and Choosing Equipment, " and I have a few tips that might be useful to anyone who will be plowing with horses and wants to learn.

Here in Pennsylvania Dutch country we call a "middle-breaker" a "scorer" and a "turning plow" a "moldboard plow". There are different-sized moldboard plows for different uses. To find the size, measure across the bottom from the landside to the part of the share that is farthest from the landside. An eight-inch plow is for one horse, a ten-inch for two horses and a twelve-inch for three. (When you measure, be sure to allow for wear.)

If you plow with one horse you have a choice of where the animal will walk—in the last furrow you made or right next to it—according to which way you swing the beam (if it's wood) or where you hook the tree on a steel beam plow.

From there on, simply follow the instructions in the chapter on tillage in Grow It! You have to steer a walking plow to keep the width of the furrow you are cutting even. To do so, lean the plow to the left and it will go to the right, or lean it to the right and it will go left. When you get to the end of the field, lay the plow on its side so it won't dig in as you travel across the headland.

If you're going to do much farming with horses you ought to buy a team. There is not much you can do with one horse, and one-horse machinery is rare. If you do own a team, you should try to get a sulky plow. They have wheels so that you can ride, and are very much easier to use than walking plows. Sulky plows are still manufactured at a place in Indiana. (Were not sure what company John has in mind, but we understand that such implements are available from The Oliver Corporation. —MOTHER EARTH NEWS.)  

Rust on the wearing parts of a plow can increase its draft considerably, so when you're finished plowing for the season, take a good handful of grease and smear it on the moldboard, share, and landside to preserve the polished surface until the next year.

If you think you can save money by buying a young draft horse and training it yourself, don't. Leave the breaking to the professionals. For a beginner to try to teach a green horse would be disastrous.

Plowing isn't actually too hard. Just be sure to secure a helper to drive the horse for your first attempt. I am only 13 years old and I can plow.

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