Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fresh Tilled Soil: Using the 1830’s Horse-drawn Plow

Repair to 1830’s Horse-drawn plow has been a year long project here at the Blacksmith Shop. Our previous blogs tell the story of it’s return to use for the Lippitt Farm.

When plowing day came Farmer Wayne was as excited as a kid on Christmas. It was cool but sunny on Wednesday when the Zeb and Farmer Marieanne came to the Blacksmith shop with the Stone Boat to pick up the plow.

They brought the Stone Boat through the village to Peleg Field’s Blacksmith Shop to retrieve the repaired 1830's plow.

The Stone Boat was used to carry the plow down to the garden patch outside of the Lippitt Farmhouse.

Next the plow was unloaded and attached to the Singletree attached to Zeb’s harness. Farmer Marieanne Coursen is the Teamster holding the lines. Farmer Wayne Coursen is the Ploughman guiding the plow. Here they are turning a furrow.  This 1830's plow is newly repaired, and has turned a furrow in a lifetime.

First furrow!

The plow needed a few small adjustments to reach the proper depth. The Depth Gauge wheel helps guide the plow to the desired depth.

Zeb our Percheron is an old hand at plowing. His knowledge and Marieanne’s handling of the lines allowed the Ploughman to end the furrow, turn the plow, and start a new furrow going the other direction. It is an exciting ballet to see a 1,700lb horse make his turn while the Teamster is at the other end of 20 foot lines!

They are plowing a garden plot outside the Lippitt Farmhouse.  Vegetables are grown and stored in the root cellar to be used in our traditional hearth cooking.  The Farmers and Zeb plow the furrows back and forth.

Farmer Wayne, Farmer Marieanne, and I are happy to see the plow working so well.  It took over a year to research and perform the repairs on the plow.  Here's to a good day's work!


  1. I was at the farm on opening day this year. What a wonderful place. Great job plowing Zeb. You are magnificent!

  2. Hi Steve!
    What is the stone boat? I assume it is used to transport something heavy? Looks like you were all having a great time!

  3. Elaine, I'll pass your comments along to Zeb & "his" staff, the Farmers!

    Jenna, the Stone boat is a heavy, flat wooden sled. It is used for heavy hauling and will slide on ice, snow, dirt, or wet grass. It gets the name from being used to pick up rocks and remove them from the fields.

    You are right about having fun at the Farm. The repaired plow had Farmer Wayne as happy as a kid in a candy store!

  4. While metal detecting I found a NADER STRAP HOOK PAT 970 Do you know anything about it? It was made of brass and is about 2 1/2 in height. Could it be from this plow? Bob

  5. Bob,

    I don't know the brand, but it sounds like a Horse harness hook. They were often brass to resist corrosion. Great find!


  6. Trim Zeb's toes!

  7. I recently came across an antique cast-iron stone boat head that looks similar to the one in your blog photos. I plan on rebuilding it using oak planking and will use it on our farm with our mule. I'm not sure how the boards were originally laid out in relation to the existing holes in the stone boat head and was hoping you might post a couple of close-up photos of your stoneboat head.



    1. Hi! Can you please send us an email at collections [at] nysha [dot] org? We can reply to you with a few images.

  8. May I use your picture of the plowman in the pales straw hat with credit, to accompany a poem of mine on facebook and also on medium? Here is the poem:
    "You are gone now / so it seems.
    Yet the open furrow steams. / Grain will grow
    and preserve the presence so
    of the plow.
    Birrell Walsh -


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