Each week, “Rural Heritage” on RFD-TV treats its viewers to stories of farmers borrowing from yesterday to do the work of today. Using hand tools, natural farming methods and draft animal power, these men and women successfully compete with their neighbors who instead employ large, expensive modern machinery and rely on chemical fertilizers and insecticides to grow their crops.
Draft horses, mules, donkeys and oxen provide the power to till, plant, cultivate and harvest heirloom vegetable and grain crops. Families work together on the farm, and neighbors lend a hand when the work requires it, exactly as it was done on small-scaled diversified family farms in the 1920s and 30s. A willingness to work hard, strong sense of community, commitment to faith and love of the land are common sentiments expressed in the show.
Practical and frugal men and women, they don’t cling to obsolete methods simply for the sake of sentiment. Rather, they study how it was done years ago and adapt it to their situation today, often coupling traditional tools and techniques with modern ones. A dairy farmer may use a skid steer to load a manure spreader he then unloads with a team of Belgian horses. A logger might skid timber with mules to a landing where it’s loaded on modern trucks to be hauled to the sawmill.
Blacksmiths heat iron in conventional coal-fired forges and shape it on 100-year-old anvils; ice houses are filled with blocks of clear lake ice harvested with hand saws and then hauled by draft horses, and families gather around dinner tables laden with the nutritious food they grew themselves.
“Rural Heritage” on RFD-TV grew out of our bi-monthly magazine, which features articles and photographs of draft animal power, small-scale diversified family farming, and other aspects of America’s rich rural heritage. A sample issue and subscription information are available online at www.ruralheritage.com. Rural Heritage is published by Mischka Press which also publishes and sells books, wall calendars, and feature-length DVDs that promote the idea of borrowing from yesterday to do the work of today.
If you enjoy seeing draft animals at work, appreciate the time-tested traditions of our great-grandparents, and acknowledge the value of family, faith, and community, you will love “Rural Heritage.”
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