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Horse power: Farm tries new tool

Above: Greg Lange, owners of Draft Works Logging and Custom Farming guides Otto and Jim, two American Belgian draft horses, through a field on the edge of Ebey’s Prairie where they were planting grain. Below left: Georgina Silby of Grain Shadow farm pours seed into the hopper of a grain drill. Two draft horses pulled the 70-year-old implement to seed a field at the edge of Ebey’s Landing. - Nathan Whalen photo
Above: Greg Lange, owners of Draft Works Logging and Custom Farming guides Otto and Jim, two American Belgian draft horses, through a field on the edge of Ebey’s Prairie where they were planting grain. Below left: Georgina Silby of Grain Shadow farm pours seed into the hopper of a grain drill. Two draft horses pulled the 70-year-old implement to seed a field at the edge of Ebey’s Landing.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen photo

The pastoral landscape of Whidbey Island was the scene Wednesday of something that hadn’t been seen for years.

Rather than the tractors that dot the landscape of rural Whidbey Island, one man was using two fairly large horses to do some similar work.

Greg Lange, owner of Draft Works Horse Logging and Custom Farming, brought his two draft horses up from his Freeland-based farm to plow seven acres of land located on the edge of Ebey’s Prairie off Fort Casey Road near Coupeville.

“On the right scale, they are a better and more holistic way to get things done,” Lange said while he was guiding his horses along the field as they pulled a 70-year-old seed driller through the field.

Pulling the seed driller were a pair of American Belgians, 20 year-old Otto and 14-year-old Jim. Lange said he had bought the farm implement from a farmer based in Sequim. Despite being seven decades old, the farmer still used the driller in his farm operations, only he towed it behind a tractor.

They were planting seed for Grain Shadow Farm, which raises grains on seven acres of land to sell at farmers markets in Coupeville, Bayview along with the University District Farmers Market and the West Seattle Farmers Market.

Lange was busy planting Kamut wheat, a variety of wheat that Grain Shadow owner Georgina Silby said is an ancient variety that originated in Egypt.

She said the wheat has a high nutritional value and minerals. She said she uses the grains in soups and it can be ground up and used as a nutty addition for breads.

She said the horses are being used on a trial basis to see if such mixed power technology would be a good fit for her farm.

“This is just an experiment,” Silby said adding that she’ll probably use a combine to harvest the grain when it’s ready to harvest.

She is starting her fourth season farming on Grain Shadow Farm and the Wales native has been farming off and on for 18 years.

Lange has used his horses to work Whidbey Island farmland for about eight years. Jim and Otto helped him restore the pasture on five acres he owns near Freeland and help plowed land for nearby Rosehip Farm.

The farmers market season is underway. The Coupeville Farmers Market is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through mid October and the Bayview Farmers Market also takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

 

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