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Friday, August 13, 2010

Got Old Tractor…?

Big Valley Doin's

The morning mist lifts from the Valley, unfolding like a down comforter into a sky that spurns clouds. Out for an early ride in the cool air, Gladys and I glide into the driveway at the Frohning Family Farm where we thrill to the sound of a mandolin pickin’ its way through that old Bluegrass classic “Salty Dog Blues.” A fiddle and guitar blend in and if Gladys had feet, she’d be stomping her brogans to that good ol’ country music.

A voice croons, “Let me be your Salty Dog or I won’t be your man at all…” from a loudspeaker on a pole. It is August and we are here early on this first of the three-day annual Valley extravaganza that does homage to that indispensable helpmate on the American farm, the tractor.Puller of yesteryear And if you have ever owned a tractor, driven a tractor, or ridden one, you need to visit the Frohning Farm sometime between now and Sunday.




Sporting new paint jobs, their Armor-All-ed big tread tires glint in the morning sun. You have to squint to look at them. Every make and model of vintage “puller” is on display. You got your McCormicks, you got your Fords, your Massey Fergusons, your Olivers. I see a couple old Cases. A few shiny International Harvesters have made their appearance. As always, there’s an Age and beautyimpressive contingent of the old “Poppin’ Johnnies,” lined up and gleaming in their Sunday go-to meetin’ John Deere green.

I wander between the rows of old timers and then I see her, a vintage gun metal gray Ferguson and suddenly I’m back in the apple orchard of my youth, sitting on that spring seat, puzzling over how I’m going to get that big right tire  off the tongue of the orchard trailer I’ve backed up on. I’ve got the Ferguson at right angles to the tongue, backed up against it and I’m stuck. And man, is this young country boy ever embarrassed! So there I sit idling in neutral until one of my co-workers, an old tractor man, frees the two of us.Old FergieYes, it was “Old Fergie” that ushered me into the world of motor vehicles. This reliable gray machine, with her four-speed trannie,  taught me clutch technique: “let her out slowly, while givin’  ‘er the gas” with the old hand throttle. And after a few weeks of her gentle understanding, I learned to shift smoothly from one gear to the next and reverse any orchard trailer with the best of ‘em.The gray ghost Yes, time rolled back…. I was proud to pose Gladys by my old, gray friend.



  Two vintage ridesI wasn’t the only one waxing nostalgic this morning. I run into Trouble # One and his sidekick Trouble #two, those Rollers, Darren and son Jesse. Both have just finished pounding back their five dollar breakfasts. Roller has brought his pride and joy, a 1966 Jacobson riding lawnmower, the exact model that in his youth fueled his love for trimming the green. “Born to Mow” is that man’s motto. And there she sits this early morning, all tricked out in orange glory, her chrome wheel covers a’ glint with delight at that prize ribbon dangling from her engine cowling.

 A couple of mowin' foolsRoller's orange babe






Over the three day affair, which features several tractor-related events including a grand parade of these old classics, spectators can experience an old-fashioned threshing bee, a throw-back to the days that pre-date our modern grain combines when reapers first cut the grain, then gathered it into shocks and hauled it to a steam-powered thresher, which then separated grain from chaff.


Craft booths and other curiosities complement the show. If you want to bring a curio Saw blade arthome, I suggest you stop by the saw blade art booth where old saw blades are turned into works of farm-related artwork.  As you saunter about, though, be careful.  I spied a sprightly old couple in a vintage jalopy motoring around the grounds. At their age I have my doubts they should be behind the wheel. Besides, these two seniors seemed more interested in each other than watching the road. Senior drivers Keep your mind on your drivin'

Be sure to bring the kiddos, too. They’ll love the hayrides, toy pedal tractors, coloring contest, and petting zoo. Let them become tractor men themselves at the photo board.

A country boy






An old hayseedAnd no one need go hungry, either. Not with the five dollar breakfasts and other food venues to choose from. 



5 dollar breakfast

If you have a hankerin’ for some good ol’down on the farm fun, take a jaunt to the Frohning Farm this weekend. Enjoy this wonderful event in our spectacular Valley. Weather’s great. Come, take a look see, listen to a little Bluegrass (if you can hear it above the pop, pop, poppin’ of those old farm classics). But unless you’re a young ‘un under twelve, better come flush with cash.Admit one rich personGladys and I just flashed our press passes, however, and entered free of charge. What’s not to enjoy about that!

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1 comment:

  1. That picture of you is classic!! I miss the good ol' Threshing Bee. It looks like it's quite a bit bigger than when I was younger. Hey, and how about Roller? Pretty cool. :)