In this day and age, many of the old established steam and tractor shows are struggling with declining attendance and, in some cases, the reluctance of members to pitch in and help with the many, many tasks that are necessary to put on a successful event. Of course, expenses keep rising too, especially insurance costs.
That doesn’t keep new shows from springing up, however. A couple of weeks ago, I attended one such new event, located in neighboring northern Carroll County.
Optimistically billing the event as the “1st Annual Tractor & Draft Horse Days,” a Carroll County farmer named Bill Mullet staged the two-day affair at his “Never Done Farm,” on Aurora Road a couple of miles east of Augusta.
The Mullet family are Amish and raise registered Belgian horses at Never Done Farm. Mullet said he just wanted to have something that would help bring the neighborhood together and it seems to have accomplished that, as a lot of my tractor friends from Carroll County exhibited their tractors.
Rick Borland brought his Advance-Rumely separator and Eli hay press, which were put into use each day threshing two wagonloads of oats which had been cut with a McCormick-Deering PTO grain binder pulled by a Farmall H tractor.
Mark Cargill’s unstyled John Deere Model A was put to the threshing machine, while Rick used his John Deere Model H to power the baler. There was plowing with draft horses first thing each morning, although I got there too late Friday to see it, much to my regret.
I also missed the tractor games, which included a slow race, barrel roll and blindfolded driver event. The blindfold game is a hoot; the tractor driver is blindfolded and someone rides with him or her to act as guide through an obstacle course. It’s especially hilarious when a wife is guiding her husband, or vice-versa. The same game can be played with horses with the blindfolded driver walking along behind the team and his guide walking alongside.
The final event Friday was a fun horse pull using a sled weighted down with 12-inch concrete blocks. I think eight or 10 teams competed, including a team of Belgians owned by Mullet.
Come to think of it, I believe all the teams were Belgian, I don’t recall seeing a Percheron in the bunch. Maybe Bill Mullet banned the darker colored horses from his farm (just kidding).
With Bruce Buck’s extensive collection of International and Farmall tractors, plus six or seven John Deere tractors belonging to Mark Cargill, there were between 40 and 50 tractors exhibited at the show. Some were rare, including a Graham Bradley owned by Larry Wagner from Canton and a white demonstrator Farmall Cub belonging to Gary Mardis of Kensington.
Bruce Buck, who lives right up the road from Mullet, showed a circa-1920 International 8-16 that was in excellent original condition, as well as a rare 1933 Farmall F-12 with the flat head Wakeshau engine that was used only on the very first twenty-five or so F-12 tractors, before being replaced in 1933 with an IHC overhead valve engine.
Bruce also showed two nearly original F-14s, one a rubber tired version with a wide front and a single front wheel model on steel. Both F-14s appear to be nearly original and each has a large single old-fashioned headlight at the front.
Ralph Borland had his John Deere H supported on three Coke bottles and running to demonstrate how smooth the old Johnnie Poppers could be. Other tractors included examples from Ford, Oliver, Allis-Chalmers and Minneapolis Moline, along with more Deere and Farmall machines.
A farrier had set up a forge and anvil and was busy shoeing horses using a shoeing stock. The stock is a frame made of heavy timbers into which the horse is tied. There are straps to prevent the horse from laying down or humping up, and to restrain and support each hoof in turn while the new shoe is being fitted and nailed on.
There was good Amish food and “horse-drawn” ice cream. A Haflinger horse on a home-made rotary power walked around and around in circles. The power drove a hydraulic pump that in turn powered a hydraulic motor on the ice cream freezer.
There was a train of small cars behind a garden tractor modified to look like a locomotive that was offering rides to the kids, as well as horse-drawn wagon rides.
All in all, it was a commendable first effort and Mr. Mullet hopes to do it again next year. Keep your eye on Farm and Dairy next July and try to attend.
(Send suggestions, comments or questions to Sam Moore in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460-0038; or via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)