TROY – Farmers Sam Hazlehurst and Rachel Katz take the horsepower of their equipment very seriously.

While tractors have engines in the 20 to 500 horsepower range, Hazlehurst and Katz operate Smith Farm in Troy with a total of four.

That’s two teams of Percheron draft horses. Martha and Birdie are the white mares, Tonka and Diesel the black geldings.

“They’re all particular, each horse,” Hazlehurst said. “They all have their strengths and their weaknesses and their idiosyncrasies.”

Hazlehurst and Katz grow a mix of vegetables, herbs and flowers that they sell at local markets including Barrels and the Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market.

The recent planting began with the plow. The soil was then smoothed the with a disk harrow, and manure was then spread over the acre field. The horses will also be used to cultivate and weed as the crops grow.

The farmers also raise a small grass-fed beef herd.

In the winter Hazlehurst keeps himself and the horses busy by logging the farmers’ 120-acre woodlot.

“It feels to me (using horses) is a beneficial way of farming. There’s a synergy between the animals producing manure and providing your draft,” Hazlehurst said.

“I fully understand why people use tractors,” he added. “They work really well, they don’t talk back and they don’t freak out.

“But I guess it’s just my nod to sustainability, trying to farm in a way that requires less fossil fuel.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.