“Mark and I have been doing some deep thinking about draft horse power here. We do not yet have answers, but I’ll share our conclusions to this point, and invite your input. As many readers know, we crafted this farm around the idea of using horses as our primary source of power. This year, we invested heavily in more horses, in harness and equipment, and through summer, we did an extraordinary amount of work with them.
We made use of multiple horse hitches and larger equipment, like a two bottom plow, to prepare and plant not only our vegetable ground but also our grain ground, and we mowed 10,000 bales of hay. We are emotionally, ecologically, and agriculturally satisfied with these choices. Economically, not so much.
If we roughly compare the cost of plowing a field with horses to plowing the same field with tractors, we think the horses could be up to ten times more expensive. Of course horses bring other benefits — fertility, less compaction, no fossil fuel, and joy — but the economics can’t be ignored…” [Continue reading about Kristin Kimball‘s Essex Farm]