Visitors invited to watch as corn is cut using draft horses

With a grateful nod to weekend weather forecasts, Debbie Bradt said workers were getting ready Frida

With a grateful nod to weekend weather forecasts, Debbie Bradt said workers were getting ready Friday for as many as 20 teams of draft horses and scores of families anxious to experience how corn was cut using real horsepower instead of engines today and Sunday.

“It’s gorgeous,” Bradt said from the Ice Cave Road farm her husband Frank and three other generations of Bradts have run since about 1920.

“We have a lot of men here getting ready,” she said.

For the 16th year, the Eastern Regional Draft Horse Association will gather hitches of horses to pull a cutting machine called a binder through about 8 acres of standing corn.

Visitors can ride the wagons behind the big draft horses and help pick up the corn the machine binds with string, Bradt said.

While most of the cutting will be done during the public event, some is cut in advance so early visitors can start riding the wagons right away, she said.

The event is open to anyone from about 10 a.m. to roughly 4 p.m. today and Sunday. There is no charge.

The Carlisle Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary will be selling food and refreshments to raise funds.

While lots of volunteer help is needed, visitors don’t have to work.

“People can stand and watch, take pictures, help or do whatever they want to,” Bradt said.

Even little kids can help pick up some of the dropped corn.

“We had hundreds of people last year,” she said. “They were standing waiting for the wagons.”

After the horse-drawn binder cuts and ties the corn, the wagons take it to a blower hooked to a 1950s-era tractor that chops it into silage to be stored in a silo for cattle feed.

The corn’s still a bit greener than ideal, but it can be dried into usable feed, Bradt said. “It’s the best feed there is,” Bradt said. “It’s got energy and protein.”

A conveyor belt will move the silage into a 50-foot-high silo.

“It’s an education for families, and the children love riding the horse-drawn wagons,” she said.

Although they no longer operate a dairy farm, the Bradts board heifers in the winter for other farmers.

The horses to be used during the weekend come from members of the draft horse association throughout a nine-county region.

The event used to rotate from farm to farm, but as active farms disappeared or turned into hobby farms without large corn crops, the Bradts’ 149-acre farm of mostly pasture and hay fields became the regular location.

This year the Bradts will also be trying out their own new team of two Belgian horses, pairing a 16-year-old with a 4-year-old acquired from area Amish farmers, she said.

The farm at 321 Ice Cave Road can be reached from U.S. Route 20 westbound by turning south on Saddlemire Hill Road by the Sloansville Post Office. When the road ends at a T, a left and quick right turn will lead to Ice Cave Road.

The farm is about 1 mile from that point. Signs will be posted in the area.

Any unexpected weather-related issues will be posted at 234-2379.

Categories: Schenectady County

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