'Hand-plowing gives us an opportunity to work the soil early'

PHILOMATH, Ore. -- As is the case with most industries, farming has been revolutionized over the past few decades with giant leaps in agricultural technologies.

In this day and age, hand plowing seems to be a thing of the past. Yet one Philomath farm says getting your hands dirty can give you an advantage over the competitors.

"It's a pretty competitive market here in Western Oregon three weeks is a big difference," said Sally Brewer, owner of CSA Gathering Together Farm, "(Hand-plowing) gives us an opportunity to work the soil early in the season when it's still quite wet"

Brewer says Lise Hubbe's horse-drawn plow turns the winter weeds and opens the soil so it can start to dry earlier than most mechanized plows.

After 16 year's experience working a plow, Hubbe says the goal is to avoid compacting the soil. In a few weeks, a tractor will dump compost, and seed grains, early lettuce and salad greens will begin to grow.

After they are warmed up, Hubbe's two Brabant Belgians named June and Hal can plow an acre within an hour.

It is tough work, but Hubbe says she appreciates the history and the ride.

"It's not an automatic thing to know how to do it. And if no one does it, if no one continues it, it will get lost," Hubbe said.