Not all progress comes with engine

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It was a pretty drive through farm country to attend Horse Progress Days in Mount Hope on a beautifully sunny Fourth of July.

The quiet little town in Holmes County is just to the south of us here in Ohio by about a 40-minute drive. The thermometer had dipped down in to the 50s overnight, and the morning dawned crisp and clear.

The event, which showcased implements of all types engineered to be operated by workhorses, is an enormous drawing card to those who farm with horses, mules or donkeys. This 21st annual event won’t return to the host town of Mount Hope for another five years, so we decided to visit.

So much to see

The brightest and the newest of implements , such as hay tedders, plows and planters, all stood on display for sale to those in the market for horse-drawn equipment. Drawing a big crowd was a water fountain operated by a horse walking slowly and steadily on a treadmill.

The log cutter and splitter, with newly chopped wood taken to a pile by an auger after it was cut, had people of all ages wishing for one on their property.

One man, who said he had traveled from southwest Wisconsin for the event in mid-Ohio, had a pair of mammoth donkeys in harness, pulling him and a friend in a wagon.

There was beautiful tack offered for sale, with everything from easy-hitch carriages to highly polished harness and reins, saddles and every possible extra a fellow could dream up.

The whole event felt as though we had stepped back in time, as there were no golf carts or vehicles roaming the grounds. It was all truly horse-powered from start to finish, as horse-drawn wagons carried visitors from the parking areas to the grounds.  If you look back in history 100 years, our forefathers and the Amish population had few things that set them apart from one another. Today, with the advent of more and more conveniences, the differences become more striking.

It is interesting to see that some English have come full circle, wishing to return to the simplicity of farming only what a team of well-trained workhorses can accomplish.

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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