The Amish Horse-Drawn Buggy Is More Tech-Forward Than You Think

Despite what you heard, the Amish aren’t against technology. Communities adopt new gadgets such as fax machines and business-use cell phones all the time—so long as the local church approves each one ahead of time, determining that it won’t drastically change their way of life.

So it is with the Amish horse-drawn buggy. You might have thought the technology inside this 1800s method of transportation stopped progressing right around then. Instead, buggy tech keeps advancing, and buggy makers have become electricians and metalworkers to build in all the new tech you can’t see under the traditional black paint.

Read more at Popular Mechanics. Via Amish America.

Animals as the Answer to Recycling Food waste

Mountains of food scraps end up in landfills every day. While northern countries glorify attempts to facilitate this trash-to-treasure process using state-of-the-art technologies, Bobbili, a town in Northeast India, adopts a tech-free solution – a park using animals for solid waste management.

animals recycling food waste

Livestock at waste management park in Bobbili, India

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The Limits of Animal Powered Transportation: Table Top Wool Wagons

table top wool waggon 8The Table Top Wool Wagon is among the largest animal-drawn road vehicles ever built. It was a unique Australian invention, built to transport wool from sheep farms to train stations and harbours.

As many as forty bullocks, or thirty horses, pulled the vehicles over distances of up to 1600 km.

Table Top Wool Wagons (also known as “jinkers” or “ships of the desert”) appeared at the end of the nineteenth century and remained in use until the 1920s, when they were replaced by trucks.

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Dog Sulkies: Pet Powered Mobility

dog sulkies

Dog owners looking for a more sustainable means of personal transportation should not look any further: the dog sulky is the answer. Dog powered vehicles have been used for the transport of goods and passengers in some European countries during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Compared to those vehicles, the modern dogcarts offered by ChaloSulky promise to deliver a much smoother ride. The carts benefit greatly from the use of bicycle wheels, suspension and brakes. Moreover, the dogs are not confined between two shafts. Instead, only one shaft goes over the animals’ back, making the vehicle lighter and giving the dogs more freedom of movement.

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The Best Invention Since The Wheel

the best invention since the wheel“Between the third and seventh centuries AD, the civilizations of the Near East and North Africa gave up wheeled vehicular transportation and adopted a more efficient and speedier way of moving goods and people: They replaced the wagon and cart with the camel. This deliberate rejection of the wheel in the very region of its invention lasted for more than one thousand years. It came to an end only when major European powers, advancing their imperialistic schemes for the Near East, reintroduced the wheel.”

“The camel as a pack animal was favored over wheeled transportation for reasons that become obvious when the camel is compared with the typical ox-drawn vehicle. The camel can carry more, move faster, and travel farther, on less food and water, than an ox. Pack animals need neither roads nor bridges, they can traverse rough ground and ford rivers and streams, and their full strength is devoted to carrying a load and not wasted on dragging a wagon’s deadweight. Once the camel and ox are compared, one wonders why the wheel was ever adopted in that region in the first place.”

“A large share of the burden of goods in the Near East was always carried by pack animals. A bias for the wheel led Western scholars to underrate the utility of pack animals and overemphasize the contribution made by wheeled vehicles in the years before the camel replaced the wheel. The more we learn about the wheel, the clearer it becomes that its history and influence have been distorted by the extraordinary attention paid to it in Europe and the United States. The Western judgment that the wheel is a universal need (as crucial to life as fire) is of recent origin.”

Quoted from: “The Evolution of Technology“, George Basalla, 1988. See also: “The Camel and the Wheel“, Richard W. Bulliet, 1990 (summary). Previously: Camel trains in Asia, Russia and Australia.

Pack Goats

pack goats

“Goats can be excellent pack animals. A good pack goat will carry at least twenty-five percent of his body weight (a two-hundred-pound wether will pack about fifty pounds), will follow you like a dog, will feed himself along the trail and around camp, and will be a pleasure to have around. Goats have been used as a beast of burden in Europe and Asia for thousands of years.”

Read more:  1 (quote) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5.

Picture found at American Goat.

Related: Pack camels / Pack horses.

Camel Trains in Asia, Russia and Australia

Camel Trains in Asia, Russia and Australia

Camelphotos.com has an interesting collection of historic camel pictures, showing pack trains, camels pulling wagons, and some camels working in agriculture and industry. Also of interest is a picture gallery of camels in India today.

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Portraits of Farm Animals

Portrets of farm animals

Portraits of farm animals by Rob MacInnis. Via The Brook (“We are an international animal welfare organisation dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world’s poorest communities”).

Micro-Livestock: Little Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future

micro livestockMathew Lippincott sends in this link to a 1991 book on micro-livestock, including currently domesticated and potential future domestication candidates among large mammals, rodents, insects, birds, and lizards: “Micro-livestock: little known small animals with a promising economic future“.

Horse-Drawn Public Transportation

“For a hundred years, from the early 1800s to the early 1900s, Europe and America had cities of at least a million people that ran on a massive, sophisticated network of carriages and streetcars. By 1880, according to historian John H. White, Jr., US cities had 415 horse-drawn railways running, with 18,000 cars on 3,000 miles of track, carrying 1.2 billion passengers a year. Most of these lines continued decades into the age of electricity and coal, simply because the horses worked better than any other option.” Read: Horse-drawn public tranportation. Thanks, Johan. Previously: Bring back the horses.