Horse, Ox and Mule Farming was Carbon Intense

Every day when I take care of my 3 horses I am reminded of the halcyon days of yore. Nothing but blue sky and crystal clean air–no dust, and no diesel.

Or not.

In fact horses are a big burden in urban settings. Figure it this way, 3 horses produce overnight 20 pounds of manure by my crude estimation machine. Imagine the thousands of horses required for London or New York pre auto. Thank you Henry Ford.

As for farming, the paper below says that human farming activities may have had more of an impact than generally thought.

My grandpa Hugh, an Iowa farmer, bought his first tractor, a 1936 Allis Chalmers and I drove that tractor on my dad’s farm (dad practiced medicine so he could afford a farm) in the early 60s, so pre-machine age farming is not that long ago. Recal that the Germans relied on horses for transport in WWII.

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5 responses to “Horse, Ox and Mule Farming was Carbon Intense

  1. I had some good views of the south end of a north bound mule on the family tobacco farm. Not only was it carbon intense, it was labor intense.

  2. One of the greatest things my parents did for me was get me riding lessons. Of course we were pretty poor so part of the arrangement was mucking stables. I’d wager your estimate of 7 pounds per horse is a bit low, at least for the appaloosas I was cleaning up after. Quick and dirty research says a 1k horse deposits “approximately 35 pounds of manure daily plus 6-10 gallons of urine.” That’s about 9 tons/year.

    In 2009 there were about “254,212,610 registered passenger vehicles.” I figure it takes at least 2 horses to replace even a small car so that’s 508,425,220 horses generating 4,575,826,980 TONS of manure per year and we haven’t even started with the cargo trucks. I wonder what effect the 4,067,401,760 gallons of horse urine would have on sea level rise?

  3. I have a book on my 2x great grandfather cutting hay in the 1890’s and the amount of animals and people needed to get ‘er done would be considered cost prohibitive these days. Want to lower the unemployment rate, just go back to small family farms with manual labor!

    Having a small hobby farm there is a lot of work and a lot of animal byproduct to deal with. I pile up the wasted hay mixed with animal byproduct and let it compost for the veggie patch. I also use a tractor where needed so guess I am contributing to warming from composting, animal burping and tractor driving.

    • Unfortunately minimum wage law wouldn’t allow anyone to hire hands at a rate that would make old style farming profitable. That’s why the southwestern famers need illegal immigrants. The only way to really reduce unemployment is to stop price fixing labor.

      • I certainly agree with the minimum wage and combine that with it is hard to hire folks to work on a farm and when I do hire it is usually through a firm and guess what shows up.

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