While old time farm equipment may not work as fast as modern tractors, farmers still get a taste of joy when farming with horses.
Farming with Horses is the name of the program hosted by the Ponoka Agriculture Society that brings old time farm equipment and horses to plow and seed five-acres of land just north of Ponoka. It’s not only a recognition of past farming techniques but the money earned from the harvest goes to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, says organizer Ken Pohl.
Seeding was held over the weekend with plow work happening on Saturday, May 7 on a hot plus-29 degrees C day. Despite being “cooked” a little, Pohl said it was a fun experience. “It brings back good memories for the old way of farming.”
When something breaks down, there is no real manual or electronics check. Farmers have to either search for a similar replacement part or even create one to do what is needed, explained Pohl.
“There’s lots of the old equipment around where you can go rob a part,” he added.
Sunday was spent harrowing and disking to get the seeding done. Not only was the work different, so was the weather — a testament to the farmers of the past who had no air conditioned, heated or covered cabs. On Sunday the wind and clouds came up with temperatures much lower than the day before.
“Yesterday I was cookin’ and sweating’ and today I’ve got my coveralls and toque on,” he joked.
He thanked all the teamsters and volunteers who came out to help.
Getting back into the work
There are some who just have a love of working with horses so much, they just won’t stop.
Henry Fleck is well known for driving the Ponoka Stampede Stagecoach at the Stampede grounds for many years. He had to take a hiatus to deal with some health issues and most recently, four weeks at the time of the seeding, he had a portion of his leg amputated.
Rather than sit at home, however, Fleck was out harrowing, showing son-in-law Kevin Prediger the ins and outs of driving a carriage drawn by two horses.
The 73-year-old has a clear understanding of what is needed and with Prediger driving, he was able to give him valuable pointers. As long as he is able to move around there was no reason he couldn’t take part in the seeding. Fleck said it was a great opportunity to be out and about and show Prediger what makes driving the carriage work.