Image credit: HundredYearFilms
Matt posted before about farmers shunning tractors and embracing the horse. With manure becoming a valuable commodity, and the cost of producing oil creeping up, it's good to know that farming with horses is not entirely dead. In fact, a new generation of farmers is getting in on the act. Young Farmers Look for Low Cost Power
The Farmer and the Horse is a documentary about three young farmers who are trying to find their way out of the New Jersey suburbs and start producing food using one of humankind's most trusted animal partners. I'm sure there will be those who see this type of movie as the worst example of anti-progress nostalgia for back-to-the-landers, but the fact is that there are very real, practical reasons why farming with horses can make sense. With industrial agriculture requiring massive capital inputs, horses can provide an affordable alternative—and it sure beats trying to do everything by hand. (Assuming you are not vegan.)
No Starry-Eyed Romance
There are also very good reasons why people use fossil fuels to farm, and if Rob Hopkins' recent review of the Farmer and the Horse is anything to go by, film-maker Jared Flesher has no interest in false nostalgia:
"This is a film that doesn't romanticise horsework. One of the most memorable sections is from a horsepower course somewhere where we see a number of people having their first experience of ploughing with horses with hilarious results. All of the people in the film know that working with horses is hard work, that they have good days and bad days, and that getting into farming in a way that is viable is going to be hard work. But in a world where getting into farming requires not just land, but a huge amount of start-up capital, working with horses offers a lower-cost way in and makes the difference between being able to get started or not."
More on Farming, Horses, Animals and Manure
Should Farmers Shun the Tractor and Embrace the Horse?
Finally, a Practical Guide to Manure as a Resource
Peak Fertilizer to Make Manure a Valuable Commodity