Per­fect plow­ing match

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK News Staff

The com­pleted wheat har­vest on 50 of Linda and Paul Vo­gel’s 700 acres in Ap­ple Hill left a wide field of stub­ble open for Sun­day’s 2017 Glen­garry Plow­ing Match.

Over 175 peo­ple took ad­van­tage of the per­fect cloud­less day to see a lost art with 30 plow­ers in five cat­e­gories us­ing mod­ern and vin­tage trac­tors and horse-drawn plows com­pet­ing against each other to plow the clean­est and straight­est fur­rows.

The turnout of con­tes­tants was the best in years, up more than 30 per cent over last year’s Glen­garry match, with plow­ers at­tend­ing to ful­fill their lo­cal match el­i­gi­bil­ity in or­der to ad­vance to the up­com­ing 100th an­niver­sary edi­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Plow­ing Match (IPM) and Ru­ral Expo in Wal­ton (Huron County), On­tario, Sept. 19-23.

Among the plow­ers was 2017 Glen­garry Queen of the Fur­row Stephanie Allen, who was meet­ing the IPM re­quire­ment that con­tes­tants must have com­peted at their lo­cal branch as­so­ci­a­tion’s Queen of the Fur­row com­pe­ti­tion.

Ms Allen, who is orig­i­nally from Maxville and now lives in Ap­ple Hill, gave ev­ery ap­pear­ance of be­ing a sea­soned plower, han­dling the clutch with ease. Watch­ing and film­ing her were her par­ents, Dale and Carol-Ann Allen, who re­vealed that this was their daugh­ter’s very first time driv­ing a trac­tor.

“This morn­ing, she thanked me for mak­ing sure she learned how to drive stan­dard trans­mis­sion,” said her fa­ther.

When asked how she man­aged to plow such a straight line, Ms Allen laughed and said, “Ian Val­lance! If it wasn’t for him I couldn’t have been able to do it, let’s be real.” She was re­fer­ring to her coach Ian Val­lance of Dalkeith, a multi-time plow­ing award win­ner who com­peted on Satur­day as a warmup for later this month in Wal­ton.

Ms Allen’s boyfriend is Jakob Vo­gel, Linda and Paul’s son, and it’s Jakob’s sis­ter Crys­tal, Glen­garry’s 2012 IPM Queen con­tes­tant, who sug­gested that Stephanie sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion for Glen­garry Queen.

“I de­cided to give it a go and I’m hav­ing a blast,” said Ms Allen, still beam­ing af­ter her plow­ing ses­sion.

“I’m in a farm­ing fam­ily now so it’s time to make my­self more known in the agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity,” said Ms. Allen who grad­u­ated in 2016 from Nipiss­ing's Schulich School of Ed­u­ca­tion and now sup­ply teaches. With her sunny per­son­al­ity, con­fi­dence and speak­ing skills, she will be a con­tender when she com­petes with 24 Queens of the Fur­row from across On­tario for the ti­tle of On­tario IPM Queen of the Fur­row.

A spe­cial treat for match-go­ers on Satur­day were three fine teams of draft horses. Walk­ing be­hind his fa­ther-in-law’s two pow­er­ful Percherons was Sa­muel Bour­gon of Cedar Pond Farm in Dalkeith, a big, quiet-na­tured man with a keen eye and a gen­tle hand at the reins.

The love of draft horses and of­fer­ing visi­tors a slice of liv­ing his­tory crosses fam­ily gen­er­a­tional lines with the Bour­gons. Plow­ing the fur­rows next to Sa­muel was his fa­ther, horse­man Stéphane Bour­gon of Cas­sel­man, with two hand­some Bel­gians un­der rein.

Mr. Bour­gon has been plow­ing with horses for 25 years and works for Guy Mach­abee of Gen­tle Gi­ant Sta­bles in St-Al­bert, a Bra­bant and Bel­gian breeder and draft horse trainer. The Bel­gian team, brothers Ben, 8, and Prince, 7, are Mr. Mach­abee’s most prized pair.

In the third horse class com­pe­ti­tion area was Sa­muel Bour­gon’s fa­ther-in-law Ge­orges Dupuis sit­ting on an an­tique rid­ing plow drawn by a team of well-mus­cled Cana­dian Horses. And seated nearby watch­ing the horses and plow­men was his grand­fa­ther Ge­orges Bour­gon who re­calls his fa­ther’s work horses on the farm.

“We’re all into horses,” says Sa­muel Bour­gon with an easy smile.

There were sea­soned trac­tor plow­men at the match in­clud­ing Ron Stin­son from North Gore who has at­tended ev­ery IPM for over 40 years.

Nancy Bin­nie from Bell’s Cor­ners watched her hus­band Andy Fytche drive a 1950 McCormick W-4 draw­ing a red two-fur­row Massey-Har­ris Model 26 plow with steel wheels which orig­i­nally would have been painted green.

The match’s judge was Ross MacGil­livray of Dalkeith, one of the event’s or­ga­niz­ers and a re­spected On­tario and Cana­dian plow­ing judge with a ea­gle eye for an art­fully straight fur­row.

“Ross keeps the her­itage go­ing and does a good job,” says Linda Vo­gel.

“Be­cause plough­ing is not what we do a lot of any­more, it's be­cause of him we can get this many peo­ple out to see it.”

The event in­cluded a tasty bar­be­cue un­der a big tent pre­sented by board mem­bers Linda Vo­gel and Tif­fany McIn­tosh, and vol­un­teers. Plow­ing stopped for the lunch of­fer­ing con­tes­tants and visi­tors the chance to talk about their mem­o­ries of plough­ing

For Linda Vo­gel, the plow­ing match is a chance to re­flect on how much farm­ing has changed.

“Like I said to my son Jakob this morn­ing when we were walk­ing up be­side the horses and the walk­ing ploughs, ‘Can you imag­ine if we had to work our field like that, these days when we jump in the trac­tor with air con­di­tion­ing and go to the field and you’re done in no time at all.’ This field of wheat had 50 acres of wheat that we started on Fri­day af­ter­noon and we were fin­ished by Satur­day morn­ing.”

No-till, re­duced-till meth­ods and mod­ern equip­ment have revo­lu­tion­ized crop farm­ing, but nos­tal­gia for the plow, an im­ple­ment that dates back 5,000 years, car­ries emo­tional mean­ing not just for peo­ple who re­mem­ber their fa­ther’s or grand­fa­ther’s old Far­mall or Al­lis-Chalmers or Ford­son trac­tor.

Take Andy Fytche who started plow­ing com­pet­i­tively two years ago in the An­tique Trail Plow class. His 1950 McCormick W-4 was slated for the scrap yard when he bought it.

“It was run­ning, I drove it onto the trailer,” says Mr. Fytche who com­peted in four matches this sum­mer in­clud­ing Satur­days.

Last year’s IPM at­ten­dance topped 90,000.

This year’s in Huron County, the most agri­cul­tur­ally pro­duc­tive county in On­tario, and cel­e­brat­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the plow­ing match and Canada’s 150th birth­day, could eas­ily be a record breaker and more power to “the way we did it way back when.”


COM­ING HOME: Sa­muel Bour­gon of Cedar Pond Farm in Dalkeith walks be­hind his fa­ther-in-law Daniel Lapen­sée's Percheron team dur­ing Satur­day’s Glen­garry Plow­ing Match, which took place on Paul and Linda Vo­gel’s prop­erty near Ap­ple Hill. His ef­forts won...


PLOW­ING MATCH: Andy Fytche of Bell's Cor­ner's plows with his 1950 McCormick W-4 and two­fur­row Massey-Har­ris Model 26 plow. At right, Glen­garry Queen of the Fur­row, Stephanie Allen from Ap­ple Hill, honed her plow­ing skills at the match. Ms Allen is one...

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