Barnyard Backtalk

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17837 Lindenwood Rd. Lindenwood, Illinois 61049

One blustery autumn Saturday the barnyard animals were arguing about who was the strongest. They decided that they'd have a pulling contest to find out who was the best. There was a gang plow behind the shed they could use. They drew straws to see who went first. The Dog got the longest straw and won the honor. He hitched himself up and started out to the field. Once the shares were in the ground he had to take three and four little false starts before he got going on his first half-round. On the second half he had to work oh-so-much harder to get up the hill. The pull wasn't going so well. The Dog's temper got the best of him and he started frothing at the mouth. He realized too late that his weakness for 'soft-water' drinks in his compound-filled stomach was his undoing that morning.

The Bull was snorting around announcing how he would out pull them all. Out he goes to the field and starts down the far furrow. Now the Bull is in such a hurry he started pawing the earth so fast he lost his footing. First thing you knew his hind feet slipped out from under him and on his belly he sat, stuck in the sandy hill. Now the Bull was proud and he wasn't about to holler for help, but really there wasn't any need. The Banner-Boy saw the Bull go down and made a triumphant charge to the Bull's rescue. The Banner-Boy unhooked the plow and pulled it off the side so he could pull the Bull out by the tail.

The Tiger watched all this with calm determination. When the plow was brought back to the beginning of the field he hooked his tail to the clevece and smoothly dug in with both hind legs. He was growling a little as he moved across the field. You see, the poor Tiger has a light sinus condition due to the numerous nose jobs he's had in the past couple of years. As he made it up the final hill he started purring along when someone remembered to scratch behind his ears.

The Eagle had been circling overhead for the bird's-eye-view of the contest. He must have sensed his competition was stiff because when he landed he complained his asthma was acting up and he decided to sit this contest out.

The Sheepherder just pocketed his money and decided he'd help thresh grain. He was just a little guy. His big brothers were sleeping in the shed and he couldn't wake them. There was no way he was going to try to save the family honor against those bigger barnyard animals.

Fairy tale? Well, sort of unless you were there that day and witnessed the action. I even got a lot of it on video. Let me explain. October 19, 1991 found a crowd of spectators gathering at the Seller's farm in Coldwater, Michigan for their autumn activities. Graham had finished restoring a John Deere 10 bottom gang plow and although it was cold and windy, he was going to give it a workout.

Ed Hurd's Bulldog Avery was the first to hitch up. Unfortunately the soft water from the creek when mixed with the boiler compound Ed had used broke the 'sludge' loose and the Avery primed. Ed finished the round and let the engine cool. Later that morning he had some help blowing the boiler down and cleaning her out. By afternoon he had a second fire going with fresh water and easily did a couple more twilight rounds plowing. The Avery saved face.

The Russell took to the field and hadn't gone far when the back wheels started slipping in the sand. Soon it was buried to the bottom of the firebox. The Advance came to the rescue. Graham took over the throttle and tried pulling the Russell forward. No go. The Russell wouldn't budge. They unhooked the plow and pulled it out of the way. Graham then hooked up to the Russell's hitch and pulled her out backwards. The Russell finished the round and they quit for lunch.

With nearly a hundred people there, the roast pig, pool table loaded with food and 15 pies didn't last long. No one had to be encouraged to go back for seconds. Jean and her friends outdid themselves again.

John Schrock's 22 Gaar Scott went to the field after lunch. The 10 bottom was no problem. If you recall about a year ago Anna Mae received a letter requesting information on the whereabouts of a Gaar Scott. John had just finished restoring a Gaar in 1990 and had to use a Port Huron stack. Of course he took a little ribbing about that stack. Well this year the Gaar received another 'nose job'. I must admit the engine had a nice back to it working on those hills. But then most of us already knew that Advance stacks sound good under a load. Oh well, we can only hope that after so many face lifts the Tiger's surgeon has made sure the Tiger will hold together.

The 25 Advance took its turn and made another grand display of plowing. As many of you know, Graham has a collection of many types of engines. Some sat sadly in the sheds while some others got to play that day. Even though the big Nichols and Shepard weren't fired up that Saturday morning the little 16 Nichols kept busy threshing two loads of bundles with the 28 inch Keck separator. That little single simple side mount was my favorite at this show but then I'm partial to Nicks.

The 110 Case that we've watched turn from rusty iron to polished, painted perfection was under steam that morning. But perfection wasn't quite there yet. Restoration, that ongoing process, had to go on some more for the Eagle. Despite the problems of a leaky, 'wheezy' throttle valve and a stuck check on the oil line, the 110 got around the field under her own steam a couple of times. They even plowed half a round before putting her in the shed. Well, there's always next year.

I won't even try to name everyone who played that day. People came from all over because they knew they'd have a good time. Sure it didn't all run smoothly but I think the guys like it better when they have to 'fix' things a little to make them work better. I saw governor belts on and off, separator belts on and off oops, sorry John! I saw people huddled around the wood stove in the shop swapping stories some stayed there all day. I saw people from a few weeks old to eight decades plus. Best of all I saw a lot of old friends and met some new ones too.

The barnyard animals got so wrapped up in having fun they never did decide who was strongest. I can imagine as they sit this winter side by side in those sheds they'll cook up some other reason to get us humans together again.

At least I hope so.