The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

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The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by yukonjack » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:25 pm

The Ford advertisement shown on the original thread was interesting...interesting also were several ads, reprinted in the Draft Horse Journal when I was a subscriber in the '80s and '90s, from livestock magazines of the same time period. The draft horse registries were promoting horses as the farmer's "mortgage lifter": able to work to produce its own feed, produce an annual cash crop of quality foals, and reproduce their replacement animals! All things no Ford could do...

Times change, though; who today can imagine using a horse drawn combine like this when we've got $3/gal diesel fuel:
horse drawn combine.jpg
images from the history museum of hood river county

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perry kete
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Re: The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by perry kete » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:20 am

With a rig like that they would trample more grain into the ground then they would harvest on the first few passes until they opened up a walking lane.

Give me forty acres and I'll turn this rig around!
1922 Coupe & 1927 Touring

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Re: The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by bud delong » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:42 am

That picture shows not the need for any Ford but the number of horses to do that work.Horses eat hay or pasture and if they are worked a lot of grain!The cost of the barns,hay,grain,horses,harness,and man power sold many crawler tractors and while Ford built the Trackson i think it was much too small for the job in the picture.The term Mortgage Lifter has been used around here as the growing of Suger Beets but like the picture everything in farming changes.One more thing,the pictures often do not tell the story of resting the horses.As tv western idiots we were shown horses could pull a stagecoach/wagon for miles at a dead run,but it ain"t so!! Bud :D

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Re: The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by Rich Bingham » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:42 pm

Jack, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one amused by comparisons of "the horse" vs. the Model T Ford.

For what it's worth, here's a modern comparison: In round numbers, feed and shoeing costs me about $1000 annually to keep my saddle horse. Through the year, I'll ride about 1,200 miles. A thousand bucks for gas and oil (reckoning on 500mi. oil changes, and 15-20 mpg.) and I can drive my Model T 4,000. miles (I don't - it's more like half of that). I haven't reckoned in repairs or veterinary costs, we hope to have neither. :o On the other hand, the horse's initial cost was only 30% of what I invested in my current Model T. Kinda difficult to figure a depreciation schedule for a car that's already 107 years old, but we know the pony's using life is unlikely to be much over 20 years. :o Smiles per mile ?? I really can't put a value on the pleasure either one gives me. They are both great, and I'm thankful to be able to enjoy them ! :D

We Model T folk frequently run into misconceptions the general public seems to have about the Model T. Many of us are similarly unacquainted with its equine predecessor. Here are a few factoids you may find interesting:
* Until the panic of entry into WW I "inspired" ploughing up the great plains to plant wheat, the "breadbasket" of the nation was the Palouse country. Vast acreages of grain were mostly ploughed and harvested using the motive power of steam traction engines. (I got to help operate a17 bottom gang plow once. What an experience ! :D )

* After WW I, the importation of European draft breeds, Percherons, Clydesdales, Shires, et al, became very popular where before, "light" horses had generally been the norm on farms and in harness.

*The mid-1920s saw the height of the work horse population in the U.S. The horse was not entirely displaced by the tractor until the early 1950s.

True, what Bud said about TV Westerns giving a false impression of the realities of using horses. Hollyweird being ever about the "show", and "action", understood that audiences would not be much excited by lengthy footage of walking horses; ergo, all riders rode at a gallop, cattle were herded at a gallop, and of course the stage coach was pulled by a team of galloping horses. One addendum to that last, however; the Overland Stage coaches were pulled by teams of four, six and sometimes eight horses, and they did indeed travel at a lope or rapid trot as terrain would allow. Teams were changed at intervals of ten to twenty miles, and allowed to rest for a few days before taking up the next relay, similarly as the Pony Express riders had run their route at a gallop, changing mounts.
"Get a horse !"

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Re: The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by bud delong » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:07 pm

Yes no,and none of the above.The teams were largely kept for old times sake long before the 50"s with the advent of semi modern tractors in the 30"s.Often much like horses the steamers often had to sit while their boilers could make more steam to go on.There were steamers that burned straw for the part of the country pictured.Those large?? gang plows were usually 10 or 12" bottoms compared to the 16 18 20" of today.The last DeLong team Bess and Bell left about 1960 when my grand dad died but their use as farm power was gone long ago.The Amish still use them but many modern inventions help. :D Bud.

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Re: The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by Dallas Landers » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:40 pm

You said it Bud. The teams are getting larger around here. The amish neighbor uses a large round bailer for hay. Pulls a hundred HP deisel power unit in front of the bailer. Takes an 8 horse team to bale hay. They get a rest at every bail kicked out. When the chopped corn at my place last year, there were 5 four horse teams lined up. They pulled the silage wagons a 1/2 mile to his farm to bag it. The horses got a rest at both farms. Resting horses is a must if you want them to stay alive. Horses are great but they will run, work and eat themselves to death if you let them.
My grandfather broke horses and oxen to work the fields. He let the last ones go in the mid 50's.

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Re: The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:51 am

My grandfather was a peach grower for much of his adult life. It took many years of hard work before he (and of course the bank!) owned his orchard. Only to lose it a few years later when the crash dropped the price of peaches below the cost to grow them. Being a hard worker, he found a way to share-crop a couple ranches until he made enough money to buy another ranch about five years later. Through all those years, most of the pulling was done by horse teams. He knew, and respected horses. But one day, in 1935, his use of horses came to an end. They had just moved into the new place they had bought less than a year earlier, when he made a rookie mistake. Nobody knows exactly what happened, but before dawn, as he readied the horses for the day's work, he got behind one of the horses. It startled, reared up and kicked, planting a shod hoof square into his face. Miraculously, he survived. In the hospital for nearly six weeks with a crushed skull, the horses were sold before he went home.
One of my mother's earliest memories is of him being away for awhile. Hospitals in those days didn't usually allow children to visit patients. She was five years old at the time, and when this man came home with his head and face still largely covered by bandages, she was frightened. Her mother tried to reassure her, and her "daddy" held out his hand to her. My mother took the hand, held it, turned it over, and proudly declared "These are my daddy's hands!"
The new ranch needed a lot of renovation, a factor that was figured into the purchase financing. So short term "cash crops" (including watermelon seeds for one of the big seed companies, and an old vineyard which he didn't like working with) were used for the first couple years until the new trees were ready to produce fruit. That gave him some more time to recover. He used a few tractor conversions made from big cars or trucks, and eventually bought a second-hand real tractor.

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Re: The Mortgage Lifter; was: "The Ford Cheaper than a Horse"

Post by bud delong » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:59 am

One cold winter day when we were cleaning out the grandparents house i got the tractor pulling a model T trailer stuck in deep snow.My dad hitched the team and the snow was so deep i had to dig a spot to crank the F-20! The team stepped into the pull and the tractor did not move.My dad backed the team up and when they hit it the second time i thought they would rip the tractor apart!!!!! With fluid in the tires i guess that old tractor to be about 4,000 pounds and for a short distance,about 10' the horses would out pull it! The tractor would pull 2-14 or 2-16" plows almost all day or until it needed fuel! :D Bud. :D

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