Horse drawn farm equipment has been used for thousands of years in farming. The designs and materials have been improved, but still drawn by a horse instead of a tractor. Many people are familiar with the Amish that still use primarily horse drawn farm equipment as well as travel in a horse and buggy instead of a tractor and car. But many modern day homesteaders are beginning to see the virtue of using horse drawn equipment on the farm instead of fossil fuel powered equipment.
It is very possible that the Amish produce more produce requiring less inputs than non-Amish farmers. This can obviously have something to do with their strong work ethic, but some of it also surely stems from their use of horse drawn farm equipment. With a comparision between a team of horses versus a smal tractor it can quickly beome obvious how this can happen.
The purchase of a horse team will probably be cheaper to purchase up front than a small tractor. And replacing the horse team becomes an obviously cheaper choice, because if there is a stallion and a mare available, the farmer can produce their own replacement. Whereas with a tractor, the farmer needs to go out and spend the entire purchase price of the tractor. With a tractor the farmer also needs to continually obtain inputs that need to be purchased off the farm, like gas or diesel and oil.
The inputs required for a team of horses can primariy be produced on the farm. Yes, that may reduce the farms produce that can be sold, but in the long run it replaces more expensive inputs that the tractor would require. A tractor is also going to produce outputs like waste oil and exhaust that do not really benefit the farm. If the farmer is using horse drawn equipment his (or her) power source is generating a valuable by product when it is being kept in the barn all winter. That byproduct is manure. In the spring a horse drawn spreader can be used to spread this manure on the fields instead of purchasing petroleum based fertilizers from off the farm.
It is still possible to find horse drawn farm equipment and with it’s resurgence with the modern day homestead movement it will likely become even easier. The farm equipment can be found either new or used. Used horse drawn farm equipment can be found at farm auctions or even farm equipment dealers, often received as trade in on newer equipment. If you are will to travel further afield to find the equipment ebay or other internet sites may be good sources for finding horse drawn farm equipment.
Here is a short video of how the Amish make hay using horse drawn equipment. They actually use a stationary powered bale, but the hay could have been put up loose, although it’s more difficult to handle and takes up more room.
We have been only farming with tractors for about 100 years. We have been farming with horses using horse drawn farm equipment for much longer than that. The ancient Egyptians and Romans even used horses to pull farm equipment. It is even possible that the ancient Roman horse drawn farm equipment was as good or better than the horse drawn farm equipment used in Amercia during the colonial period. Horse drawn farm equipment has stood the test of time, will tractors?