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Farming with Draft Horses

July 16, 2010

By Rebecca Briggs

A recent open-farm day at Ruby & Amber’s Organic Oasis, a certified Biodynamic® farm in Dorena, Oregon, gave visitors the opportunity to see a workhorse demonstration — and perhaps, if they felt courageous, to try their hand at it.

Kids love the hands-on experience

Although the farm’s original namesakes, Ruby and Amber, no longer work on the farm, a new team of Amish-trained horses, Tom and Jerry, help farmers Kris Woolhouse and Walt Bernard with about 75% of the work. (You can still find Ruby, now retired, in the horse pasture.) Kris and Walt make a concerted effort to use draft horses whenever and wherever possible — including logging some acreage a couple years ago. The winter season finds Walt refurbishing old equipment, allowing them to do even more with the horses, such as corn grinding and wheat threshing. Walt and Kris also recently started a Workhorse Workshop program, where participants can get hands-on, personally tailored instruction and experience.

Farmers Walt and Kris give an introduction to working with the horses

Farmers Walt and Kris give an introduction to working with the horses

There’s a lot more going on at Ruby & Amber’s, if you can tear yourself away from the fascinating horse work. A small, but very diverse, farm nestled in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade range, Ruby & Amber’s has several acres in vegetables and berries, which they sell at several local farmer’s markets. Customers rave about the quality of their eggs; you have to get to the Eugene farmers’ market early if you want to score a dozen. They also have bees, four acres of wheat, some young fruit trees and grape vines, several pigs and a litter of little ones, and a couple cows.

School bus converted to mobile chicken coop

Mother and son

Starts in the greenhouse

Offerings at the farm stand

Rebecca Briggs worked for Ruby & Amber’s the summer of 2006 and greatly appreciates Kris and Walt for illuminating the path that brought her to work for the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2010 1:54 pm

    Great article and the horses are beautiful.

  2. brad saunders permalink
    March 22, 2014 10:07 pm

    Gidday, I enjoyed reading about your farm. I am at the other side of the world, also bio dynamic principals, although not certified, I do most of my farm work with my clydesdale horses on our 102 acres.
    Keep up the good work. Kind regards Brad Saunders, Forth, Tasmania, Australia.

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