Category Archives: Farm Chores

Borderland Ranch Home Garden Transition

Photo of an organic garden

We are transitioning our conventional organic garden to a regenerative organic no-till garden. Many changes will have big effects! We are using heavy compost to form permanent beds and continue to build organic matter. We are using heavy mulches between rows to reduce weed pressure. Cover crops that add organic biomass, fix nitrogen in the permanent beds, cover and protect the soil are planted in fallow areas and at the base of crops. Tarps were used over the winter and early spring and until beds are created or planted to reduce weed pressure by smothering weeds and weed seed. We will post progress throughout the transition…wish us luck as it feels like we are in totally new territory..the learning curve is high!

Be Your Horse’s Leader and Partner

Do You Dream of being the Leader and Partner Your Horse Needs You to Be?

 Turn Your Dream into Reality:

attend a Doc Hammill Horsemanship Workshop

at Borderland Ranch in 2021

  Would you like to learn to

        • develop Trust, Respect, and Leadership in your relationship with your horse?
        •  feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed while interacting with your horse?
        •  understand what your horse’s behavior is telling you?
        •  understand what your body language is telling your horse?
        •  harness, hitch, and drive horses?

Working in an 'out-door classroom' at Therriault Creek Ranch, home of Doc Hammill Horsemanship

Spend a week in Beautiful NW Montana Learning Doc Hammill’s Horsemanship  “Fundamentals”

Come, join us for a very special time at our Montana ranch and acquire the horsemanship skills you have been wanting to achieve. Reserve your spot now! Contact Doc or call him at 406-250-8252 for workshop and reservation details.

Woman driving a team of horses hitched to a forecart on a gravel road
Vee driving Suffolk Punch mares on a forecart

Become one of Doc’s many successful students!

We are currently booking for our 2021 Montana Workshops; We would love to put your name on our list of successful participants.

Doc Hammill Horsemanship helps people to understand and build relationships with their horses. We believe that YOU are your horse’s best trainer; we teach you to gently, safely and effectively communicate and train your horse and to harness, hitch, drive, and work your horses. Through demonstrations, lectures, and hands-on exercises with Doc and Cathy’s personal horses, you will explore and practice the same techniques that Doc uses in workshops literally all across the US, to build partnerships with horses. You will learn and practice how to create this same kind of relationship with YOUR OWN horse(s).

Man coaching woman driving a team of Norwegian Fjord horses hitched to a horse drawn hay rake and raking hay
Doc working with Julia and ‘The Boys’ as they rake hay

A Gentle Horsemanship Message from Doc

 

While doing springtime chores that prepare us for the 2021 Workshop season, we are thinking of what you might be interested in.

Man driving a single Norwegian Fjord horse hitched to a single plowthat a woman is handling

At Doc Hammill Horsemanship we help you to learn how to work with, drive, and teach horses in gentle, effective ways that make sense to horses!
Make 2021  the year that you advance your horsemanship skills by participating in one (or all !) of Doc’s many learning opportunities so that you understand and practice methods of interaction and communication that will change the relationship between you and your horse in amazing ways.

Contact DOC
now!

To view our latest email as a pdf file, click the link below

A Gentle Horsemanship Message from Doc

Man ground driving a team of horses pulling a harrow

 

 

Horse-Drawn Bale Moving Wagon

Horse-Drawn Bale Moving Wagon 1

We use our horse-drawn bale moving wagon regularly on the ranch to move bales!

We purchased the wagon as seen here. It was made by the seller, who assembled components to make a very useable and maneuverable wagon.

 It has Gehl running gear and is shortened to a 10-foot bed length. It has a new Pioneer Equipment bench seat and a new Pioneer cast toolbox is bolted on the bed, which was also new lumber when we purchased it. A modern bale spike assembly was mounted on the back, and when we purchased it, it had a high-capacity Warn winch (with remote operation !) mounted on it to run the bale lift mechanism. We replaced the battery-operated winch with a hand-operated come-along to lift the bales. Wedecided to use the winch on another piece of equipment where we could use the high capacity power. The hand operated come along works just fine, however, we’ve considered mounting a smaller battery operated winch to operate the lift mechanism. The wagon with a short wheel base is highly maneuverable which is incredibly helpful in our equipment yard, hay yard, and driveway accessing  our covered hay storage. 

Horse Drawn bale moving wagon 2

This side view shows the ‘bale spike’ mounted on the back. This component was purchased and added to the back of the flatbed wagon.

Horse-drawn bale wagon 3

The bale-spike is mounted on the long stringers that support the wagon bed. It is mounted to the stringers and pivots up and down between them, as shown in the photo below. The short spikes on either side of the long spike keep the bale from rotating -stabilizing it.

Horse-drawn bale wagon 4

We use a piece of plastic PVC pipe placed over the long spike to protect people and animals from the pointed spear when it is not being used to carry a bale. The PVC piece is just enough larger than the spike so that it comes off easily just before spearing the bale and goes back on the spike just after the bale is dropped. We always carry the PVC spike cover on the wagon when moving the bale so it can go back on the spike immediately after the bale is dropped.

Horse-drawn bale wagon5

The spike is set horizontally as the wagon is backed up to spear the bale.

Horse-drawn bale wagon 6

When purchased, the wagon had a large 12-volt battery-operated winch on it. We moved that winch to another piece of equipment and replaced it with a hand-operated come-along.

Horse-Drawn Bale Moving Wagon 1

Doc winches the bale up into a position that will hold it on the spike as he travels. In rough or irregular ground, we go slow, taking it easy so the bale doesn’t get to bouncing, giving special consideration to the horses, who would feel any bounding by the wagon and load.

Horse-drawn Bale moving wagon6

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to call

Doc 406-250-8252 or Contact Us, Cathy 406-890-3083 

 

A Fine Team of Three

A Fine Team of Three

 

We visited with them as they were getting ready to leave, in the early Montana light. Here is  Bayln with his new team of Belgians,  a fine team of three. We have been fortunate to know Balyn for several years and were quite excited that he made an overnight stop to see Doc and I at Borderland Ranch to take an overnight break in his travels with his new team, Bruce and Bud, from eastern Montana to Western Washington.

Balyn is now working his own farm with his wife Ellie, in North West Washington. Please join us wishing them well as he puts these nice horses to work on their market farm growing organic veggies and berries in the Sequim, Washington area.

 

Doc Plowing Snow with Ann and Shelby

 

The photo shows Doc working Ann and Kate, our Suffolk Punch mares, at plowing snow with a

Pioneer Forecart and Pioneer Back Blade accessory.

DSC02206

 

We’ve had the blade for our Pioneer fore cart for about 10 years and it works very well for us. In addition to plowing snow we have used it to move dirt, spread gravel, level ground squirrel mounds in pastures and hay fields, clean up manure in corrals, spread wood shavings and sand, and do some minor ditching. The blade can be set at several different angles very easily and quickly with a spring loaded pin to roll material off the blade either to the right or left. A similar pin and holes system tilts the blade higher or lower on one end than the other for such things as ditching and creating a slope. Loose dirt and gravel can be moved with relative ease but hard packed dirt needs to be plowed or otherwise loosened first if the blade will not tear it up with one end of the blade tilted down so the corner acts like a ripper. Care needs to be taken not to force the blade down so hard in an attempt to make it dig deeper that excessive downward pressure is created on the end of the tongue. Doing so will exert too much downward force on the collars which can make the team uncomfortable and potentially anxious, irritable, or sore. It works great for light grading of loose gravel on driveways, ranch roads, etc. but tearing up hard packed gravel is not practical. If it gets wet enough in spring or fall we can do more with formerly packed gravel. We also use the lift mechanism (without the blade attached) to raise and lower other custom tools that we attach to the lift mechanism with a modified receiver hitch.

Suffolk Punch Draft Horse on a Bob-sled.

Winter, our quiet time, is a time we use to keep our horses tuned up, and ready to work as instructors  in our Montana Workhorse Workshops.

We have had snow here at home since mid-December so we get to put the horses on  sleds and sleighs, and in some cases, change out the wheels (for example on the fore cart) for runners.  Here, Doc has Ann, one of our Suffolk Punch Draft horse mares, on a small feed sled.

This sled is great with a small load and a single horse.

We love all seasons in Montana, and especially enjoy Montana’s long snowy winters.  This time of tranquility gives us another  set of opportunities (besides the fair weather and ranch work of summer) to enjoy driving and working  with our horse partners.

Horse Drawn Plows and Plowing

For Doc and me, plowing with horse-drawn walking plows is a favorite activity. We both enjoy plowing with one, two, or three horses hitched to a walking plow.

The sounds, the smell, the feeling of holding the handles, and working with the soils … it is all part of it for us, as well as working with the horses as partners to get a job done. Helping the horses gain skills and understanding of the task and to make their contribution in a relaxed and comfortable way is very important to for us.

We both share an interest in horse drawn equipment of the past and have somewhat of a “collection”.

We are enamored with the details of parts, engineering, design, history of the manufacturers, adjustments, maintenance, and attachments of this old equipment. We both think there is beauty and art in the form and function of many of these older pieces, particularly the walking plows. The “plow hitch plate assembly” is one of those very appealing artistic components of walking plows.

plow hitch plate assembly
This “plow hitch plate assembly” is one from a plow we recently found in eastern Oregon, a Vulcan #14. It has been fun for us to do some research on it, find out about the Vulcan Manufacturing Company, think about getting it in working order, ready for it’s use next spring.

Below is an excerpt from the Evansville Courier Press:

“William Heilman, a German immigrant and U.S. Congressman, founded Heilman Plow Works in 1847. Renamed Vulcan Plow Works in 1890, the company was a leading manufacturer of various farming equipment in the Ohio Valley before merging with three other companies in Illinois and Ohio, to form Farm Tool, Inc. The last known vestige of that company in Evansville left in 1949 and went out of business all together in the 1950s.”

We are getting very excited after we received recent news that two ‘new-to-us’ plows are being shipped to us by Tommy Flowers, and will have a new home here in Montana.  A Chattanooga 43 10″ two-horse walking plow will be perfect for our Fjord Team,  and a Lynchburg 6  an 8″ single horse walking plow for our single Suffolk Punch horses should be arriving soon! The ground isn’t frozen and there is no snow yet … maybe they will get here it time to try out before winter hits….


Learning to plow is one of the favorite activities for students in our workshops.

Doc and I always look forward to sharing our passion for plows and plowing with  students in our workshops. Learning to plow is one of the favorite activities for many students.

One of our students, who had waited since his youth to plow with a horse was particularly excited about “taking the handles”  for the first time. He said to me this year, “Cathy, I have yet to try this thing that you love so much, but I am ready now.” You should have seen the smile on his face as he looked back after completing his first furrow!

When East Meets West…in Montana

 EAST MEETS WEST

We feel privileged to have recently shared our home for a visit from Jay and Janet Bailey,  of Fair Winds Farm, for a couple of days. The Baileys live in Vermont, own and operate a horse-powered, organic market vegetable farm.  Like us, the Baileys also offer intensive, hands-on horse-powered workshops that teach people how to drive and work horses in harness.
We and the Baileys both admire, own, and use Suffolk Punch Draft horses in our personal farm work and in our workshops. We had much to talk about with this love in common…our own horses, their tractability, their energy, their great minds, and current trends in breeding. It was a great time for the Baileys to learn about the other breed of horses we own and use on the ranch and in our workshops, Norwegian Fjord Horses.
The time together with the Baileys also gave the four of us the opportunity share, connect with resources, and network with each other about what opportunities, information and activities we provide (and would like to provide for Workhorse Workshop students). We want to stay connected to help each other provide the best educational experience possible for all of our combined current and future students.
Jay and Janet were interested in local history and had not heard of spring-board notches.  (Loggers in the early days cut springboard notches into which they could insert springboards which then could be used as platforms, allowing the loggers to stand and use their cross-cut saws to cut higher-up the base of the tree where the trunk is narrower.)
We spent some time hiking with them near the ranch to show them the remnants of the early logging in our area.
Of course, what is a visit among horse-friends without a little horse work?  We shared a favorite activity with Jay and Janet….log skidding with Solven and Brisk, Norwegian Fjords, to get in a little firewood.
 Doc and I consider the time spent with these great people valuable to not only enjoy their company, but also to exchange ideas and to take time for recreation as well.
Thanks Baileys for taking the time to ‘stop by and see us’ at  Doc Hammill Horsemanship, here in Montana.