Sunday, December 4, 2011

Build Your Own Drag Chain Harrow (Manure Rake for Your Pasture)

We have small pastures on Our Tiny Farm, so good manure management is very important.  For several years, we managed manure by regularly walking the pastures with a wheelbarrow and fork and transporting it all to our compost pile, just like we do with the manure from the barn and paddock.  The manure based compost is one of the keys to our productive gardens, and collecting manure is good exercise (I tell myself as I do it), but it is a time-consuming process.  During the growing season in particular, there just aren't enough hours in the day, so we began looking for other ways to manage the horse and donkey manure in our pastures. 

I learned that if you break up the manure piles and spread them thinly across the field, the manure dries and breaks down quickly, fertilizing the pasture and killing most of the parasites.  Then I looked up "drag chain harrows" and found a great selection available to pull behind a tractor, ATV, or riding lawn mower.  But the prices were $200 and up.  There was no way I could justify that kind of expense.  So, I showed pictures of those drag chains to my hubby and he created one for us that didn't cost us a penny.  I love it!  It might not be pretty, but it works great. 

We use the drag chain from early spring through late fall.  Once the temperatures are cold enough that the grasses and clovers aren't growing anymore, we resort back to collecting the manure in a wheelbarrow and hauling it out to the compost pile.  This is much easier and faster to do in the winter, however, because the grass is short, the ground is hard, and the manure piles (which are often frozen) are easy to scoop up.

Here are some pictures of the drag chain my hubby built and him using it for the last time this season.







12 comments:

  1. what a good idea been looking how to make one for ages now can have a go as we are on a mates farm and there is 6 fields to do takes ages by hand x

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  2. I came to Western North Carolina in my teens with my family after leaving Vermont...its ok but I want a place that's my own. Anyways I took a few online tests to recommend places to live and Spokane, WA came up repeatedly, and after looking into it a lot it seemed like the place to be, is it weird to want to move there?

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    1. I live on an island outside of Seattle, on the west side of the mountains (Cascade range) from Spokane. However, I spent several years living and working in one of the many towns outside of Spokane. It's a beautiful area, much drier than the Seattle area, with cold winters and hot summers. It's about as different from Seattle as you can get! Much of the area remains rural in nature, so if you want a farm or horses, you'll have many places to choose from. Real estate remains affordable and Spokane offers both the feel of a city but with the huge influence of rural living. If you want to do it, take a trip out, rent a car and explore. Life's too short, if you don't move there, at least spend some time there and get a feel for it before you make any decisions.

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  3. Would this work to cut tall grass?

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  4. Alice anne, Spokane is a wonderful place. We loved living in eastern Washington state. Very different from western North Carolina!

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  5. Anonymous, the drag chain harrow will not cut grass; it is for breaking up the manure and spreading it across the field. The mower we use to pull it will not cut real tall grass very well. When we need to cut tall grass we use the Farmall Cub with a belly mower.

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  10. WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for sharing! I too am on small pasture (4 acres) but feels like 40 when you have to scoop!! Your awesome idea just saved me from thinking I would have to some day spend 900-2000.00 for a manure spreader! U are a blessing!

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    1. Thanks Joanne. We still get out there with the wheelbarrow and fork sometimes, but not near as often. Let me know if you make any improvements!

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