Pleasurable Plowing

Jim Edwards on his Hart Parr

I have often considered that I may need to evaluate my idea of fun. There’s just something about operating a tractor, for any reason, that brings me joy though. I discovered a long time ago that I’m not the only person willing to work and consider it play. The past couple of weekends I’ve worked /played at plowing with some of my great friends, the Edwards clan.

Getting ready

Recreational plowing has been a popular late fall activity for a great while. I have been to a few plowing events, but never really got to participate for obvious reasons. I didn’t own the right size tractor! There are garden tractor plow events however, I just haven’t attended one yet. I wouldn’t doubt it originated from neighbors helping neighbors years ago.

Horse drawn implements make the events even more popular. Horses going quietly about the labor is a sight to behold. A well trained working team are quite nice to observe. My personal desire to plow more modern, driving a tractor may seem lazier to the horse person perspective. Along the lines of horse drawn, I’ll just step back and watch.

Horses on the horizon

Two weeks ago was our trail, so to speak, for the main event last weekend. It was my first opportunity to plow with a tractor I owned. The misfortune was my recently purchased M didn’t wish to run correctly. Old tractors are like old people. They may function normally, but need the extra love and attention deserved.

Even though my M went on the trailer for an early ride home, I still got my chance to have a wheel in the furrow. The Edwards family are very generous with their friends, and they had taken more than enough tractors for everyone. In fact, that Saturday most of the tractors plowing were owned by the Edwards family.

It felt more like winter when we plowed on October 28th. In fact there were snowflakes seen falling now and then. The smell and sight of the rich black dirt being rolled over is just relaxing. I had forgotten what it’s like to be watching from the seat, but on these weekends I was right there in the elements. Not looking through dirty glass in a noisy cab. Well to be fair, Jim and Marlene did plow with a cab tractor. They were out of the elements

Jim decided this was a better choice to plow on October 28. He and Marlene stayed cozy warm and the windows were closed, not like this picture

Doug had invited me along for the second weekend plowing several weeks previously. He wouldn’t give me much details as to where we were going and kept it very secret. He monitored anyone that had been there having any conversation with me. All I was allowed to know was I was going to be very surprised and thoroughly enjoy myself.  Bill Robb tried to enlighten me somewhat, but Doug did everything short of having Bill sign a gag order.

The Friday before we left was a hurried last minute preparation. At one point I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to even go. Plans made, sometimes change and what was thought could be transported with three trucks ended up needing a fourth. Jim hauled one plowing unit, a John Deere 730 with an Oliver 4 bottom semi mount plow. Jason hauled the two golf carts. Doug had the Oliver 88 Standard behind his truck, and I brought a three bottom pull type for the Oliver behind my truck. I won’t go into the comedy of loading in the dark and the trial and error. I will however commend how well we all worked together to over come and adapt. I’m sure the father and three sons have always worked together in a finely tuned fashion, but I felt honored to become a part of the team.

Saturday morning we headed out on the hour and half journey. I’m sure we looked awsome cool in convoy, even though my 150 stuck out as an odd ball with the three Dodge trucks. Today’s weather was going to be much more comfortable than the previous weekend, even though there was risk of rain.

So my first impression, Wow! Doug’s surprise was complete. We arrived at a show/event that could be compared to a farm progress show in sorts. First glimpse was a huge farm in the Shiloh valley outside Bellville, IL. The traffic, hustle, and bustle was evident that something big was happening though.

The eight of us worked together again and got ready to plow. Jim, Marlene Cummins, Jason, Marcy, Doug, Cory, and a newly made friend Jessica Mullen made up the troop. (My next article post will be a interview with Jessica sharing her perspective)

Doug showing Jessica how it’s done

There was so much going on, the Renner farm is huge. They  own a farm and country life museum and the tractor collection was tremendous. The key to the collection was having every single type John Deere four wheel drive.

Even more horses were going about farm labor, tractors of all types color, size were turning the dirt. There was a threshing demonstration happening as well. Activities abound! It was hard to imagine that this open house event was put on by a one family.

Plowing was a little rough this time. We were plowing cornstalk ground and dealing with constant plug ups. I don’t remember back in the day having a golf cart full of people riding along and jumping to the operator’s aide, but it was nice for this day. Didn’t I mention teamwork is pretty special?

1/2 the golf cart crew as we head in to find some lunch. Marlene (left with Jim behind her) and Marcy driving (Jason is behind her) Don’t let the faces fool ya! We can be silly and happy

November 4th was a special day that I will look back and smile thinking about. October 28th, even being a cold, I was warmed by my friendship with a wonderfully special family.






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