I'm carrying this over from another thread to keep it focused on the appropriate topic.
OK, coming from a farming background and having seen my grandfather us a horse and a mule to plough I have to say some of the comments are not quite factual.Right your father and his peers did not use oxen, which they would have if they were so superior to equines
On whether a horse can plough or not depends first of all on the soil and the terrain. Even in medieval times when they were employed and especially during modern times, the 1920s through the 1940s, they were used primarily on land that was light, mostly sandy, to medium, a sandy loam. All of the sources I have seen show the solely horse teams being composed of 3-6 animals depending on the type of soil and the topography, e.g. flat or slight inclines. Even my grandfather usually used two animals on the sandy soils we have in northeastern Arkansas and if it was on heelstring ground, sticky clay, they would have to use maybe four animals, if they even farmed it at all.
On the plains, when breaking through the sod and heavy soils in the late 1800s and early 1900s they used large teams of horses to break through and turn the soil. In fact, large scale farming in the plains did come along until the advent of the steam driven tractors that allowed more land to be tilled in better time.
Of course the horses my grandfather and plainsmen were using were larger than those used in the medieval period.
About the only time a single horse was used for farm work was for hauling a cart or pulling a harrow. In many cases, the demesne cart horse was specially bred and separate from the other work horses that ploughed and harrowed.
As for the peasants, those that did use horses usually got away with using teams of about three or four animals because they worked less land. However, their horses were usually not as well fed as the demesne animals either since they had to subsist on lesser rations. That said, one author states that that was not to big of an issue because they did work less than the demesne horses and thus did not require as much feed.
Check out this article, 'Economics of Horses and Oxen, by John Langdon
. My Grandparents used tractors and that basically takes us back a century. Tractors were superior to equines and they were professional farmers.
I guess I should not have used a more recent example since it has been taken out of context. The point was the type of soil on which my grandfather used his team, not that it was horses were better than oxen. As for the plains, the teams that moved the wagons across them to the Oregon Territory and California were predominantly pulled by oxen and when they arrived at those destinations they used them as plough beasts.
If you want an example from my family's historical past that is closer to the medieval period, lets go to Connecticut and Long Island in the late 1600s when the first Dentons came from England, the Yorkshire area. The land they settled was worked by oxen as were most of the lands at that time.
Even in England the oxen remained dominant in the north and west well into the 18th century, these being regions that had the resources to keep them fed but did not have the higher land values to support the use of more expensive horse power.
IMO Harn has a lot of land so while you are correct on a theoretical basis that some land is marginal and tougher to plow requiring larger plough teams for equines. [My gut says when you choose to develop land for farming and you possess lots of land you do not choose the marginal land first].
Actually, when you look at land quality for the manors, you will see that some regions of Harn are settled on some very poor soils (.75 to .90), even as you say, there is plenty of other land around that may even be of better quality. However, most of that land is forested, and as usually happens, man moved onto the lands that were easily accessible first, even if they were poor, and adapted his farming methods for that particular land.
The default on Harn is Two and Four Oxen Teams, not that a single equine could not plow most of those same fields.
I don't have all of my resources with me here in China, where is this stated?
You are going a great deal more in depth than Harn Manor and discounting "things" like the fact your father did not plow with oxen.
Again, this was more about soil condition they were used on. In fact, the clay ridge that runs down the center of the sandy soils that used to be under the woods that were cleared for lumber was not even used until the advent of gas-powered farm machinery because the horses just couldn't cope with it, even though the clay ridge is more fertile than the sandy soils.
The following is from a paper entitled, 'English Economic Growth, 1270-1700'.
The first is entries from Table 5, Percentage of English animals producing specific products, and shows the figures for 1300:
The first is entries from Table 6, English yields per animal (10-year average), and shows the figures for 1270-1279:[list]Milk (gallons) 100Beef (lbs) 168*
[Works at 50% and fall slaughter for the lower weight heifers IMO]
Veal (lbs) 29
Mutton (lbs) 22
It's a nice snap shot but needs some context:[/quote]
The material you gave is out of context because it assumes modern breeding and feeding regimes for these animals.
The context of the above is of medieval animals and the research by individuals who studied the excavated bones of such animals and using scientific means developed the average size of these animals and then based on butchering methods and mass of various components of the carcasses the amount of usable meat that could be obtained.
The truth, besides what HarnManor states, is that most animals were not slaughtered every year, only a small percentage, pigs being the exception. Even so, pigs were not usually slaughtered until the year after they had been born because that was when they produced the best bacon and hams (about 1.5 to 2 years of age). Most male calves would be destined to replace the retiring oxen who's working lives were only about 5 years on average meaning they would be slaughtered at about 7 or more years of age. Of course a peasant couldn't afford to replace his oxen as often and may have kept them until much older, even buying the older beast from the lord when he was replacing them.
Personally I think HarnManor generalizes too much and takes some things for granted. Having a hand in its writing, I know a lot of this was to make things less complicated at the time. However, over the years there has been much discussion about these very issues. The fact I used England in the 1250s to about 1300 is because this is where a lot of the research for a mid-medieval period lies. The other reason is this is precisely the place that Robin based a lot of his ideas from, so why not use it to expand on HarnManor for those who want a little more realism and for those who are happy with it as is, then there is still the current version. After all, look at HarnMaster, we have 1, 2, 3, and Gold. Even with HarnManor there was at first just the Manor article in an EH IIRC.
I now step down off of my soapbox.