Thursday, 29 February 2024 07:55

Showcasing farming in the early days

Written by  Peter Burke
Farmer Graham Cottle hosted the Harvest Weekend event on his farm near Levin. Farmer Graham Cottle hosted the Harvest Weekend event on his farm near Levin.

They came from all around the country to Horowhenua recently to showcase farming in the early days.

For two days crowds of locals turned out to this unique display of history in action with a huge range of tractors and other implements from the past which were used to till the land and harvest the hay and other crops.

Those taking part were mainly members of vintage machinery clubs who dedicate their spare time, some would say full time, to restoring old farm tractors and farm implements and getting them back into working order. Some have sheds full of tractors and implements while others have just a few - and then let's not forget the role the venerable Clydesdale horse played in breaking farmland.

Wayne and Terry Orchard FBTW

Brothers Wayne and Terry Orchard from Taranaki brought their 1908 engine which drives a saw and again a working display which attracted much attention.

Each year the vintage machinery clubs in the Horowhenua, Manawatu, Hawke's Bay and the Wairarapa take turns at staging this event which has everything that dedicated machinery lovers would want to see along with some activities to delight the children who flocked to the event.

This year, the Harvest Weekend was held on the farm of Graham and Susan Cottle just north of Levin. The Cottle family have farmed in the area for over 100 years and Graham himself has farmed on this and another property all his life. They run a mixed cropping and a small dairy farm and generously gave up a large slice of their land so that the event could be staged there. Because of Covid, Graham Cottle says it's five years since they held this event in Horowhenua.

Stephan Muggeridge FBTW

Stephan Muggeridge provided one of the highlights of the day with his ploughing demonstration. On the first day of the event, it rained making ploughing difficult, but the organisers cut crop down to make it easier for Stephan to get his team into action.

"The event is very popular, and we had good numbers here over the two days. There were exhibitors from as far away as Pukekohe, the Waikato, Gisborne, Taranaki, Wairarapa, and even one from Christchurch," he says.

Cottle owns about 30 vintage tractors himself - not all of them running. He started building up his collection in the early 2000s and many of his machines were on show on the day. Cottle says his hobby has the full support of his wife Susan.

"The oldest tractor is a 1925 Farmall-Deering 10-20, the smallest is Farmall Cub, the biggest is a TD 24 bulldozer and the newest 1954 Farmall Super C," he says.

Like most of the collectors of tractors, Cottle focuses on a specific category. He has gone for the international Harvester - McCormick range and prefers older tractors to the newer ones.

During the day there was a parade of some of the tractors with Rod Clifton, local restorer/mechanic and collector of all types providing a very detailed commentary of the types on show.

He also stopped the parade every now and again to get the drivers of their machines to explain the history and significance of their tractor.

A very special exhibitor on the day was 98-year-old Carl Lutz who featured in the previous edition of Rural News For Carl, age is not a barrier and he's still restoring tractors and implements and was happy to talk to visitors about his own collection.

The Great Grain Machine

A machine that attracted much attention was Mike Playford's McCormick-Deering grain binder which he has lovingly restored.

Mike Playford McCormick Deering Before FBTW

Before restoration...

Mike, who hails from Masterton in the Wairarapa, says the machine dates to the 1920s and says it took him nine months to restore it and it now works beautifully.

"The ones you normally see are those sitting on the side of a field and you can't see them working. I saw a video from Canada where it showed a machine like this restored so I decided to do the same with this machine which was just a wreck when I first found it," he says.

Mike Playford McCormick Deering After FBTW

... and after restoration.

Playford is a regular exhibitor at events like this and says he gets a lot people coming up to him, but says sadly today, many young people aren't interested in the past.

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