Farm Collector Blogs > Field Notes

Traditional Farming: It's All a Matter of Perspective

Larry Whitesell driving his team

It’s Dec. 24, 2014, Christmas Eve day. I just read the editor’s column in the January 2015 issue of Farm Collector. It’s about shucking corn by hand. It reminded me of something that happened to me a few years ago at the Half Century of Progress show in Rantoul, Illinois.

I grew up on a farm in Indiana and have been collecting and participating in farm shows for years. Part of what I do includes demonstrating work with Bob and Zues, our team of Percheron draft horses. Often I have the thought that, “this is only fun because we don’t have to do it this way anymore.”

Every once in a while I run into a farmer who has no interest in the old way of farming. I really never quite understood that. Well, a few years ago, at Half Century of Progress, we were enjoying the whole thing, including working the horses on a plow, mower, wagon, cultivator and Blackhawk check-row corn planter owned by a friend.

It was all very enjoyable. Then we went by an area where they were shucking corn by hand. My wife suggested that I give it a try. Shucking corn by hand, you’ve got to be kidding me! I did enough of that as a kid to last me a lifetime.

And then it hit me: the fellows who farm with current machinery – maybe that’s how they feel! They want no part of the traditional methods.

Dad’s 2-row pull-type corn picker unloaded to the left. That meant that when you opened the field, you were going to run over the first four rows of corn. The tractor would get two rows and the wagon would get two more rows. The choice was to pick those four rows by hand ahead of time or (an even worse option) pick ears up off the ground afterward. I didn’t like either choice.

I’m going to be 67 next week and plan to continue playing with the old tractors and horses. I may plant some corn with the horses again but have no desire to pick any of it by hand. I always enjoy getting Farm Collector and read it from cover to cover.

Larry F. Whitesell, 4314 S. 300 W., Tipton, IN 46072; lfwglw@gmail.com