Working Horses, Working Landscapes
- Semester: Summer
- Course Number: INT270
- Instructors: Rick Thomas
- Credit: 3
Developing efficient and affordable power systems to manage small-scale farms and woodlots require thoughtful planning for agriculture and silviculture practitioners; draft horses are re-emerging as a viable and competitive choice. This immersion course will introduce participants to the basic skills and operations necessary to develop and manage a horse powered farm and woodlot management system. Coupling hands-on learning with classroom lectures and field trips to horse powered farms and woodlots, participants will experience the opportunities and challenges faced by farmers and loggers who choose to use horses in their daily operations. For 10 days, we will collectively experience the daily rhythm of working on a horse-powered farm: rising early for morning chores, attending to hoof care, repairing equipment, learning to drive single and teams of horses, working in the woodlot while learning to add value to our logs by turning them into building timbers, and creating a garden system managed by horses. Sprinkled throughout the intensive are mini-workshops on chainsaw safety, hand hewing logs to timbers, basic timber framing practices, using a small-scale portable sawmill and hoof trimming along with classroom sessions on the history of horse power in America, the theory of no-pressure driving principles, horse powered woodlot management systems and the Nordell model for bio-extensive gardening. Following this course, participants should be able to make a conscious decision on whether or not horse power is a reasonable choice for their agriculture or silviculture enterprise.