Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Don't Miss Plowing

Robert W. Grief in Iowa posted a long winded piece on handling corn stalks over his lifetime.  I was familiar with every line he wrote but noticed the one that said "I still like to plow."  I never did like plowing that much.  I don't miss plowing.

Dad and grandpa plowed 100 acres for corn each year with a team. I never did figure out how they did all of that. Grandpa had a little Titan when dad was little but it just pulled a disk and harrow. That was replaced with a Farmall Regular but they still plowed with a team!

By the time I came along, Grandpa was getting too old to help and dad was plowing with an Oliver 77. He traded that for a Super 77 with 3 point hitch and a raydex plow. He bought a used 8N and he will pull 3 bottoms and I would plow with 2 at the same time. We thought that was big farming in our little livestock area in the 1950's.

He couldn't keep the Ford running and bought a used Oliver 550 for manure loader work and for me to plow with and we were pulling 6-14's total. That was really big in our neighborhood.  We always plowed in the spring. No one fall plowed much in those days because our soil was too light and often too hilly. The fields were all fenced and got hogged and grazed off. Some years I think they ate and licked up every kernal.

I never liked plowing because you sat so unlevel. The neighbor's WC and WD seemed to be built around the plow unlike other tractors. I got to plow with them in later years when we had a brand new D-15 bought on state matching funds for the Blanchester FFA School farm. We had plowing contests and taught a lot of plowing about the time the chisel plow hit the scene.

I did like watching the soil roll under the plow bottom and I don't know of anyone who didn't like the smell of fresh soil plowed up. But we chiseled only a few years before we rented the White NoTill planter in 1976 and haven't plowed since.

Now Robert farms the flat black soils of Iowa.  Not all of Iowa is that way.  His soil is higher in organic matter but is so flat it doesn't move very much.  Our land was marginal for farming and livestock was the best way to make a living off those little rolling farms in Brown County.  Plowing was cause for erosion where I grew up.  Wind erosion was probably a bigger threat where Bobby grew up.

We both disked stalks before plowing.  Plowing was so much easier if you disked them first.  Plowing sod could be a challenge.  I remember farmers running a number nine wire used for fencing attached to the bottom to help the sod split and roll under the moldboard.  The first plow was just that, a molded board which you could do with some wood when it was wet.  Of course, they didn't last too long and steel and cast iron replaced them.

Now most plows have been scrapped in this area but there is still a six bottom sitting on our concrete pad where the big hog barn used to stand.  Hog barns and moldboard plows have disappeared in my lifetime in Ohio.

I know that plowing my cornstalks under would have helped my notill tree problem and so far we haven't got enough rain to wash the soil.  One big 3 incher though and my precious topsoil would be gone and the creek would be browner than ever.

I just don't miss plowing.

Ed

I never cared that much for plowing but thanks for the memories.

4 comments:

  1. We never cropped, just gardened. That was just enough plowing to keep it enjoyable!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That patch of barley, wheat and radishes I showed the other day, I am thinking of notilling with my new one row notill planter on my DX-24E. That would be the end of plowing for me, even in the garden. Now, if I just had those stacks of planter plates I have given away...

    ReplyDelete
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