Plowing in the Rain: Too Wet to do Anything Else
by Lynn R. Miller of Singing Horse Ranch
They advertise “rain or shine” for the Rock Creek Plowing Exhibition and this year they were put to the test. I’m happy to tell you that the horses and teamsters and spectators passed the test with flying, if soaked, colors. It was mid May when we should have been flirting with summer’s first kisses but not this year. It took 5 hours for me to drive 100 miles through blizzard, squall and thunderstorms to get to the Rock Creek Campus site of Portland Community College. I didn’t expect to find any horses or people there. But I had forgotten that folks west of the Cascade Mountain range are accustomed to this sort of weather. I think it was my friend Ron VanGrunsven who, when I asked him why he was there, remarked “It’s too wet to do anything else.” It was raining hard and steady so I didn’t even try to get an accurate count of people and horses, suffice it to say they were everywhere and plentiful. Teamsters took turns running wagons carrying tourists from the parking lot to the field. Anita VanGrunsven was gracious enough to allow me to take a turn with her exceptional Bay team and walking plow. I had forgotten what it’s like to have each foot gain in weight from the sticky clay. When I moved over the mountains I traded clay for sand and rocks. The event was well organized with several displays from ropemaking to farriery. It’s been going on for 32 years and one of the organizers commented that next year they think they’ll return to a judged competition. This event has flourished in no small part because of the interesting mix of the co-presenters: Washington County Historical Society, Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association, Portland Community College and the Aloha-Sunset Rotary.
I started to make notes about who was plowing but my fountain pen ink ran in the steady light rain. I apologize to those people I missed mentioning. I want to go next year with my raincoat and a well-greased team for the plow.