RicelandMeadows


Steel Away for the Weekend

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August 16, 2018

I had a great time last weekend at Tiller’s International in Scotts Michigan. I took their knife making class. Last year, I took two blacksmithing courses. This was just “continuing education” I guess. I learned a bunch of new stuff thanks to good instruction and hands on learning.

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This very simple “clamp” in the photo above, became a good friend as I sanded and rubbed on the steel knife. I forged the blade from 5160 steel, then learned to grind and sand the blade into a functional piece.

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We learned to fit a handle on the blade. I am pleased with my first attempt to make a knife, but I see imperfections that I will work on for the next one. This is a good blade… even if it did take me two full days to make it!

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I even ventured into file work. I free handed the “X’s” into the back of the blade for my thumb to rest on. Again, I learned things that I will do different, but am satisfied by my efforts. I need to work a bit more on the finish…but… “It will cut” as they say.

Tiller’s International is an institution that strives to bring old, early American methods in farming and homesteading to poor countries. They build small agricultural equipment out of materials found in those poor countries, like rebar, shipping containers, and bicycle parts. They make hand tools and oxen pulled pieces as well.

The international part of the Tiller’s mission, is made possible by training learned from preserving America’s past. I am glad they share. Classes in timber framing, tool making, coopering, tin smithing, commercial barrel making from white oak staves, oxen and draft horse driving basics and more. Check out their website for classes and events at http://www.tillersinternational.org  This non-profit organization can use your help, why not enrich your life while helping them out?  It worked good for me as I was able to “steel away for the weekend!”



Horse Drawn Hay Mower
August 8, 2018, 6:50 pm
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

num91

August 8, 2018

I bought this #9 regular gear horse drawn hay mower, to mow my hay. I have been using a tractor mower for the last eight years. It had reached it’s limit and I had reached mine working on it all the time! I have time now to relax and make hay when the sun shines! Using the horses is good for them and me!

This mower was rebuilt by a friend of mine. He has been rebuilding this type of mower for his entire life. It has been done from the “ground up”. I am looking forward to using it. I have four acres of second cutting grass to use for our maiden voyage. This thing sounds like a sewing machine. I can’t wait to try it out.

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Usually these have a cast iron seat. This one has a seat for an old man with a sore back….

This mower will cut six feet in a swath. The guards down near the mower are called stub guards. The short “stub” guards reduce plugging by a lot! The machine has been timed, all the seals replaced and a new style pitman arm bearing installed. It is as ready to go as I am.

These McCormick Deering mowers came in several styles regular gear, high gear and trailer gear. I did a lot of research before choosing this one. All of the Amish farmers that I asked said pretty much the same thing…. Well timed machine, sharp knives mean everything…the rest is “fluff” and mostly personal preference.

When I started farming, I used a McCormick Deering #7. It is a model a bit older than the #9″s. I got along well with it. I only sold it to be able to go faster…or so I thought. As I was mowing hay with my tractor mower for the last time, I realized that I was going 3MPH…the same speed a horse walks. The only thing that made it seem faster was not having to stop and rest the horses.

So, I listened to the noisy tractor drone on as I mindlessly drove around the fields. Now, I will listen to the horses and their harness bells. I will stop to rest them and give the mower a shot of grease or a splash of oil. I can listen to birdsong and enjoy farming in the way of my grandfathers. Plus…I will still be mowing at 3MPH!