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Old mowers

Jim Grace for Progressive Forage Published on 08 December 2021

Snow was falling, and I had planned a day of repairs in the shop. I wandered back to the ditch with the old machinery to look for a piece of metal for a welding project.

The tangle of brush, machinery, pipe, angle iron, and odds and ends of long-discarded rusty implements has been used by several generations of farmers as a place to make stuff disappear from view but still be available when you need parts or materials to make into parts.

Behind several red cedars, and with a walnut tree growing up through the tongues, sat a couple of old horse-drawn mowers. I have seen them there for years. This day I paused, leaned against a tree and studied them more carefully. The mower I was standing beside must have been new sometime about 1920, 100 years ago. It had a 5-foot sickle bar. The sickle was in it, all the guards still in place. Maybe it was parked there in running condition. The original color was long gone. Since I had debated buying a new mower conditioner all fall, it made me wonder what the decision to buy a new mower would have been like for a farmer way back when.

Did 1920’s mowers come in only one model? For sure there was no choice among 10 different widths. No choice between sickle or disc. The required horsepower was undoubtedly two. Would that be called self-propelled? No cab, no monitor choices. No choice of hydraulic or PTO, only ground driven. Time of year may not have been that important as there was no 179 tax deduction. And I am going to assume the prospective buyer was not faced with the mind-boggling choice of color.

But, the thing that really made me smile was the thought – and I bet it would have rung just as true in 1920 as 2020 – of how the farmer would feel riding along, laying down a beautiful 5-foot swath of grass with his new piece of machinery, not to mention making a few extra trips up and down the road to make sure his neighbors got a good look.

I found the metal I needed. I decided to get another year out of my current MoCo. It fits through all my gates, and I know where to find old iron for repairs.  end mark

PHOTO: Photo by Jim Grace.

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