From Shanks Mare to real mares to modern power

I enjoyed the following short clip from AEI about power and energy, even though (like many pieces of its type) it confuses the two concepts as well as their separate units.

The picture above shows how hard it is to concentrate literal horsepower to operate something as big as a combine.   That's quite a harness-full of horseflesh (or are they mules?) for one driver to control!  Life gets a lot easier if you can use a concentrated source of energy like fossil fuel and an internal combustion engine.  Well, of course, it's easier in some ways and more complicated in others.

The video claims that a horse, though only seven times as heavy as a man, has 100 times his power (i.e., his ability to apply energy to a useful task in a given time period).  That calls for a lot of oats, obviously -- all the little plant cells industriously working away to use sunlight to combine water and carbon dioxide into high-energy molecules that can be burnt in the horse's metabolic furnace.



raven said...

Should your wandering ever take you to Pendleton OR, there is an interesting museum of farming, Ranch life, Pioneer life, etc. the size of the teams used to harvest wheat on the Palouse was remarkable. Also amazing was the cook wagon- they had a list of what one cook and helper would make each day for the men. I do not remember exact numbers but it was on the magnitude of 24 loaves of bread, 12 pies, 12 cakes, 20 gallons of coffee, 20 chickens, 10 roasts, etc etc. The plates were nailed to the tables, men ate in shifts. A massive wood burning stove dominated one end of the wagon. "cookie" was one hard working man!

Anonymous said...

When you enlarge the picture, they all seem to be horses. Horses would have been more common and cheaper up in the wheat-belt than mules would have been, if memory serves.