Farmers gather for Plow Day in Grey Eagle to bring back old machinery and techniques
By EMILIE THIESSEN, Staff Writer
It all started 15 years ago. Grey Eagle crop farmer Alan Roering said his friends from Elrosa just didn’t know what it was like to plow through a field full of rocks — something that is common in the Grey Eagle area.
Roering invited them to come and plow his field to find out just how difficult it was. The first year was just a fun joke, he said, but 15 years later, his friends are still coming.
Each year in the fall, Alan and his wife Sharon, along with the Sauk Centre Two Cylinder Club, host Plow Day, a time for area farmers to get together and plow using equipment and techniques employed during the time of their grandparents.
“I joke that I get to have my field plowed, stand on a hill, drink beer and watch,” Roering said during this year’s Plow Day, Oct. 16.
Many members of the Two Cylinder Club specialize in and often collect older, John Deere tractors. So, instead of using large, modern equipment on Plow Day, farmers bring their older, smaller tractors and plows that would have been regularly used decades ago.
The importance of Plow Day, Sharon said, is keeping younger generations in touch with what farming life would have been like 50 years ago. The oldest tractor on hand during this year’s event was a 1941 Model B John Deere.
“It is good for the kids and grandkids to know what it was like years ago,” she said.
Alan usually chooses the field in the spring, depending on what is planted in the space. Alan said it is easiest to use fields that supported beans or small grains during the season rather than corn.
Corn fields, he said, are harvested later than fields with beans or grains. Corn plants also produce a great deal of excess plant matter, making it much harder to plow through a harvested corn field with an older, smaller plow.
Last year, farmers were able to bring back even older plowing techniques using a horse-drawn plow. This year, however, the dry fall meant a hard and dusty field — difficult conditions for horse-drawn plowing. The horses were put on hold until next year, Alan said.
It is always nice to get a bit of help plowing his many fields, but the help he receives is only a bonus, he said. For Alan, the event has become something he looks forward to every fall because of the great company it attracts.
“I just do it because it is a fun afternoon to visit with people,” he said.
Sharon agreed, saying that a day full of tractors and a big potluck will almost always gather friends and family.
“It gets everyone together — the family, the friends, the club — everybody enjoys it,” she said. “Seems like every year someone brings a grandkid along or another friend along and it just keeps growing.”