More Old Things

horse drawn plow

The Plow

This is called a horse-drawn walking plow. It is the traditional type of plow used in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was pulled by a team of horses, while the man who held the handles and walked behind. There were variations, especially in the shape of the "moldboard", the curved part that turns the soil upside down, depending on the type of soil and vegetation to be turned. For instance, on the western prairies when the sod was exceptionally heavy, most of the plows had more curve in order to be sure the heavy sod was fully turned under. The eastern plows like this on were designed to turn the sod more "on edge" and had a small plow-like fixture just ahead of the moldboard that turned the edge of the slice under so that no fringe of grass would stick up along the edges of the furrow. This we called a "joiner". Later tractor drown plows used a rolling "coulter" with a smaller joiner for this purpose.

My dictionary doesn't list either a joiner or a moldboard, so I am writing those words the way they used to be pronounced and so may be incorrect. My grandfather also said "whippletree" for whiffletree, and "stanchal" for stanchion. This computer doesn't recognize any of those words.

This plow that I have seems to be similar to the "Munnsville Plow". But it is labeled "Leroy Plow Co. Leroy, N.Y. #110." I used such a plow in my early years of farming, and walked many miles behind it. It cut about 10 inches wide each time across the long fields. When you came to the end of the field, you would flip the plow over on its straight side and let the horses drag it around to the next furrow to go back across. The horses knew just what to do at each end without being told.

After the field was plowed it was "dragged" over at least three times with a "spring-tooth" drag, or harrow. The first time you went straight in the direction of the plowed furrows, and the 2nd and 3rd times diagonally in opposite directions. Dragging was harder for the horses, and one team could not stand doing that all day. So often we would plow mornings and drag afternoons, in order to break up the work for the benefit of the horses. When I had an extra horse I used a three- horse team for dragging. That made it a lot easier for them. It didn't shorten the miles I walked behind them, it just made me walk faster to keep up. We fed the horses all the hay they could eat and good measures of oats and corn to keep up their strength.   Charles E. Page 2002


The Cultivator

horse drawn clultivator

This was a horse-drawn, one-row cultivator. It might have been called a half row one because you had to go up close to one side of a row of corn and back on the other. So each row took a "round trip". You could steer it somewhat by pressing down on one handle, which would swing the cultivator teeth slightly to one side close to the row of plants. If you got too close you would take out the plants. It was pulled by one horse who was smart enough to walk between the rows of plants with out being guided by the reins. [My grammar-spell-check on the computer on which I am typing this, says I should refer to a horse as "which" not "who. But I think that's an insult to a good worker so I'm leaving it as "who"]     Charles E. Page 2002



The Sawbuck

our sawbuck

A sawbuck is a wooden framed device made to hold logs or sticks of wood while they are being sawed into stove length. This particular one I adapted from the traditional ones that had two "X" ends. The stick was laid across the x's, your left foot was put on the stick to hold it tight, and you sawed off a length of wood on the right hand end, then moved the stick to the right for another go at it. This one I made with three "X's". I would lay the sticks across, saw one or more off the ends and saw in two more places between the x's. Later when we had a chain saw I would load up the buck with as many sticks as it would hold and saw down through all of them, at the ends and in the two places in the middle.

Before chain saws the old timers used a "buck-saw" shown hanging at the right in the picture. We then sawed one stick at a time and moved the stick to the right each time in position for the next cut. With the buck-saw you couldn't saw several sticks at a time because the saw would bind in the pile. A chain saw had the power to "bull through" even if it did pinch somewhat. Then it was possible to "make wood" much faster.

At the left in the picture there is a one or two man crosscut saw. The straight handle is removable when being used by one man. We still use it occasionally for small jobs. For years Alberta and I cut down trees, and cut up the logs as our only fuel supply for heating our home using this "arm-strong" method. When we lived on the Butler's Corners farm I also used wood burning brooder stoves to keep the baby chicks warm. We had and still have a full-length two man cross cut saw. It was probably in the early 1980's before we got a chain saw.

Charles E. Page 2002