Horse power gains favor among small-scale farmers

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

MARATHON, N.Y. (AP) — While most modern farmers work their fields with a rumbling tractor, sheep farmer Donn Hewes labors to the jingling of harnesses in rhythm with the hoofbeats of horses and mules.

He's one of a growing number of small-scale farmers dedicated to keeping alive the teamster's art. Hewes uses horse power to tend the fields at Northland Sheep Dairy in Marathon, 40 miles south of Syracuse.

It's hard to quantify how many horse-powered farmers there are. Stephen Leslie, author of a book on draft-horse farming, says he's seen a big increase since he started his organic farm in Hartland, Vermont, 20 years ago.

Hewes mentors new horse-powered farmers as president of the Draft Animal Power Network, based in Vermont. The organization has grown to 400 members since it started in 2010.