June 10-15, 2018
Faculty: Rick Thomas, featuring Tim Huppe and Tom Jenkins
Developing efficient and affordable power systems to manage any farm or woodlot system requires thoughtful planning and technical skills. The use of draft animals as the centerpoint of farm power is experiencing a surge in popularity; farmers and loggers are using draft animal power to create economically viable and resilient-by-design power systems. During this five-day immersion course, participants collectively experience the daily rhythm of working on a draft animal powered farm. Rising early for morning chores, students attend to the needs of the stable and prepare equipment for the day’s work. Following breakfast, students participate in hands-on instruction designed to learn and practice basic principles and techniques to hone their developing teamster skills. After lunch, students continue skills-based instruction by doing meaningful work in the gardens and woodlot. Following evening chores and supper, skills sessions in blacksmithing, hand tool use and maintenance, hand mowing, screening films, or fireside activities such as spoon carving, complete the day. Following the course, students will have a strong understanding of the opportunities and constraints working cattle and horses bring to a modern farming or logging enterprise.
Prerequisites: This course is designed to introduce basic teamster skills and is appropriate for people with no previous experience working with draft animals. Students must be able to work long days, and be physically fit enough to lift heavy objects and walk several miles per day in all types of weather. Age requirement 18 or with special permission.
Tuition & Fees: $1250 covers the cost of the class, most course materials, and daily meals from our top-ranked Sterling Kitchen. Accommodations are not included in course pricing.
Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is available for an additional fee of $60/night with a private bathroom and $50/night with shared bathrooms. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic/vintage/farmhouse style accommodations that are clean and safe but not luxurious. Availability is limited and room requests are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you prefer to stay off-campus please see our accommodations page for local recommendations.
Need more details before you can register? Let us know!
Rick Thomas is a long term Sterling College faculty member, his role at Sterling College connects him to those things he values most: hard work, living a farmer’s life, continued learning through experiential challenge, and building lasting relationships with students. His courses are designed to introduce and then sequentially build knowledge on the use of a variety of viable sources of power for today’s small scale diversified farming endeavors in the field and in the woods. Interactive lectures coupled with hands-on experience allow students the opportunity to use mixed power system across the College’s working landscape.
Tom Jenkins: Tom Jenkins is a native of Westhampton, MA, and a graduate of Paul Smith’s College. Jenkins has been a consulting forester for 20 years, a volunteer firefighter, chairman of the local conservation commission, a Kestrel Land Trust board member, 4-H leader and Cub Scout Den leader. He also runs the Ox Teamsters Challenge at the Three County Fair in Northampton, MA. He got his first team of oxen at age five and showed at New England fairs through 4-H for about 10 years. While working with mechanized logging crews during the week, Jenkins still did his own firewood at home with his oxen. Recognizing an opening niche, he began marketing low-impact timber harvesting to clients. Ox logging with his seven-year old team of holstein/shorthorns is now an important part of his forestry business.
Tim Huppe is Farm Manager and instructor for oxen workshops at Sanborn Mills Farm. Tim attended the Thompson School of Applied Science at the University of New Hampshire and worked in the construction and lumber industries, before joining Sanborn Mills Farm. Tim has taught oxen workshops nationally, is an accomplished ox yoke maker and has been a contributor to Small Farmer’s Journal and Rural Heritage magazines.