North Dakota Field Day
by Fuller Sheldon of Kindred, ND
Dear SFJ Friends,
Along with a host of horse-farming and natural-power fans, we’ll be joining the Straw Hat Convention in Indiana where we hope to meet you. Here are some pictures of a recent field day outing where several neighbors convened to plow 10 acres in preparation for oats (endless cycle, you know), which happened to be the first public display of Tom’s Six in rope eveners. Even without signs advertising, “Caution, Grown Men At Play Ahead” a steady stream of vehicles turned in the driveway to either reminisce or gawk in wonder at the six plows and 18 horses all in one field. This year is Wes’ turn to host the unofficial Threshing Day, so don’t mind the labor swap. While every farmer hopes for – and needs – a bumper crop, shocking 10 acres of 100 bushel oats puts a strain on backs and good will for miles around. All the same, here’s wishing everyone a bin-buster.
The plowing was Saturday; the cultivating was Monday down at Fort Ransom in preparation for sowing the demonstration farm in conjunction with the State Park there. Several acres of oats, corn and even a small field of potatoes will entertain and engage participants and spectators alike. The spuds were planted with a #6 IHC planter, about 1900 vintage, but we conceded to the use of Admire insecticide in an effort to control the Colorado Potato Beetle, so towing the ground drive lawn sprayer made a study in contrasts, of sorts. Here again, several of the same teams came to share the duties, the serenity and the outing, which makes our present version of horse-farming a most pleasant occasion.
Whenever more than two horses are hitched together, the spectator interest increases greatly, so initial exposure to a 6-horse hitch captivates many, and most comment on having never seen the rope arrangement. Another aspect of interest and satisfaction for the drivers is to know profit from winter-long practice and consistency. We drove first one set of 3 and then the other on the spreader as we cleaned the barn all winter. Quiet and gentle is the goal, with occasional exclamation points when compliance was marginal. But at no time was there need for “speaking in tongues,” so when fieldwork finally began, Bummer and Baldy found their places in the furrow and off we went, appearing more in charge than we actually were. But soon repetition and fatigue combined to yield a pleasing picture of constructive cooperation.
During the winter, we found and reconditioned a John Deere #4 2-way plow which saw its first use in a long time on this same plowing day. Generally used in irrigation country or in hills neither of which abound in the Red River Valley of the North, it presented another novelty for viewers.
Overhearing the quiet reminiscences of seasoned veterans as they view the current, larger versions of what was once very familiar to their daily experience. “If we’d only had horses like that…” is a commonly-heard observation. We’re learning, not only from doing, from listening, but also from reading all your good stuff regularly appearing “in the plain, brown wrapper.”
Thanks much, all.
Odegaard Belgians, Kindred, ND