Horse Progress Days 2007 – Arcola, Illinois
a report as told to Lynn Miller by Robert Yoder of Sugarcreek, Ohio.
This year’s very successful event was held on the Vernon J. Yoder farm of Arcola, Illinois. The crowd was larger than last years in spite of a drenching rain which fell the day before. By 4pm 3 inches had fallen on top of a 7 inch rainfall for the rest of the week. This made the morning parking quite muddy. The excellent black heavy soil of this part of Illinois became slippery. But the rainfall cooled things down and made for two absolutely perfect days of weather, not too hot, just right. The last time Horse Progress Days was in Illinois the thermometer topped out at 106 degrees. This year it stopped in the 70s. Gorgeous weather.
The 2007 crew did an excellent job of organization and it showed with how well things worked. And the horsemanship demonstrated was most excellent. Oba Hershberger and Paul put together 12 belgian mares for the big hitch with a lead mare which had foaled the evening before.
All the good implements were on hand with a few new surprises. There was a bale accumulator, all gravity – which gathered 10 bales to one spot. And I & J showed a cover crop roller especially designed to flatten and crush thick cereal rye before no-till corn planting. This tool had resulted from research done at the Rodale Institute.
Pioneer, White Horse Machine, Shipse Farm Supply, Gateway, Hogback produce and all the other manufacturers put on an excellent field display.
I & J had two additional innovations this year. One was a motorized forecart which incorporated an automatic guard rail. When you put the belt tightener to work, the rail came into position. This was a great safety feature. Their other tool was a small new 10 hp ground drive forecart.
Again I want to stress that the committee did an excellent job of organization and the horsemanship displayed was superb.
comments from Lynn Miller
Family commitments made it impossible for me to attend this year’s event but Doug Sheetz’ excellent photos and conversations with Daniel Wengerd of Pioneer plus Robert Yoder, one of this year’s able field trial announcers, gave me a solid sense of the happening. Looking at the pictures, like the one below of my buddy Ed Martin of Michigan on the spray rig, you can’t help but get a clear indication that the future for animal power gets brighter every day.
Outstanding tools, ever better animals, and superb teamster skills certainly do the job of showcasing to the newcomer that modern horsefarming is a viable option for the exciting new diversified small family farm of today. The annual Horse Progress Days is the place to go to see that the work can be done and done well.
Organizers of this event have been listening to the attendees concerns and it shows with a widening selection of tools for single and team application. Daniel Wengerd impressed upon me that the Horse Progress board is very keen about getting any scale of innovation from all parts of the continent to next year’s event in Ohio.
The photo of the high-horsepower forecart and rototiller belching exhaust into the clear blue sky will certainly bring up some frequently asked questions from environmentally sensitive horsefarmers who had assumed that the choice for animal power had included a sensitivity to issues of scale and pollution. It is politically and socially interesting that the idea of horsepower is firmly embraced by folks of many differing walks of life. While it is true that horses and mules and oxen do afford us opportunities to farm clean and green, the choice to follow animal power does not guarantee those environmental concerns. I am one of those who believe that the connection with the animals will, in many cases, make a gradual and subtle case to the farmer about cleaner farming.
Work is already underway for the 2008 event which will return to Mt. Hope, Ohio in the Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarora counties Amish community. It is scheduled for the 4th of July weekend. I know I am planning on being there and helping in any way I might. And we hope to have a considerable contingent from Small Farmer’s Journal there to meet and greet our many friends and readers. Hopefully we can encourage some of our west coast manufacturers into bringing their wares and implements to that showcase.
Daniel Wengerd told us over the phone that HPDays is working on setting up a website for the event to help folks with contacts, planning and scheduling. If you think you might be interested in being directly involved, with animals, equipment, a trade booth, workshop or clinic presentation you need to get in touch with those folks right away. Don’t wait, the sooner the better if you want a slot. – LRM