Brett Fulford has found that plowing a field with draft horses will generate a few double takes.
One man even pulled over to take a closer look to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, said Fulford, who has been plowing and disking a three-acre plot in Lacombe County about eight km west of Nova Chemicals.
“It’s something different,” said the Haynes area resident who was happy to find local organic farmers Michael Forsyth and Lynn Cain who allowed him to practise some old-fashioned farming techniques.
Fulford started plowing the plot with three of his horses before the May long weekend. Together with a friend it took about 20 hours over four days to finish plowing.
“I plow about 14 inches at a time. If you use a modern-day cultivator, it’s anywhere from 30 to 60 feet. They can do one trip and I have to do 30 or 40 trips. But I can tell you, they’re more stressed then I am,” he said with a laugh.
Then he disked the soil three times to kill more weeds. He will disk it one more time before he seeds the soil Sunday afternoon to grow oats using equipment that requires four horses.
“We’ve worked it quite a bit. I’m still dealing with a little bit of quack grass. But we’re going to hit it hard this week and hope for the best.”
He said his Percheron draft horses actually enjoy the work.
“If you could see them being harnessed, when I put the collars on, they put their heads down and push against me to put their collars and their harness on. It’s phenomenal.
“They’re bred to do it. This is what they do. This is what they love.”
For every 10 minutes on the field he gives the horses a two-minute break so they aren’t overworked.
Finding older farming equipment in good condition is the hard part, he said.
“Nowadays the metal prices are so high that everybody is scrapping these pieces of equipment. You go to an auction sale and you’re competing against the people who are recycling it.”
Recently Fulford was lucky enough to find a thrasher for free to harvest the oats. A man from Caroline offered him the thrasher who just wanted to make sure it didn’t end up used for scrap.
Fulford has been involved in his farm hobby for about three years with Alberta Carriage Supply, a company that participates in driving events using horse-drawn farm implements, wagons and sleighs, and also camps in the Rocky Mountains with teams and wagons.
Recently Fulford was involved in farm activities at the National Historic Site Bar U Ranch near Longview. Last weekend, he put in 12 acres of spring rye south of Calgary for a Calgary brewery that produces organic beer.
Fulford will also continue to work more land on the Lacombe County property.
“We’re going to try and keep another section plowed all summer so that we can control the weeds and then do a rotational crop so we can do specialty organic crops.”
About three teams of horses will be at the seeding Lacombe County farm on Sunday afternoon. Anyone interested in seeing them in action can visit around 2 p.m.
To find the farm go east on Hwy 11 from Red Deer, turn left on Freedom Road, turn left on Township Road 38-4, turn right on Range Road 26-2 and drive about a 1.5 km. The farm is on the east side of the road past two grain bins.