By LARRY M. JONES
Hardly a day goes by down on the “pore farm” that I’m not reminded that I’m living in the past. Apparently there are a lot of things in life that have changed, and it seems I never got the memo. I suppose we older folks try to hang on to methods we have learned throughout life, reluctant to adapt or give up what makes us most comfortable.
About 25 years ago when I retired from the Navy, I returned to the “old home place,” and like most of my ancestors, I chose to farm the land to provide for my livelihood. Although I had been away from agriculture for more than 20 years, I had grown up here and had learned most of the requisite skills required of farmers. I had observed how my father and grandfather worked the land, and had learned of more modern methods while attending college. In addition, my brother, David, was just up the road if I needed advice or assistance, and there were still many older farmers in the community.
Today, rural Parker County no longer has much of an agricultural presence. Gone are the farmers, and gone is the infrastructure to support this once dominant industry. When I was a youngster, Weatherford supported several tractor and equipment dealers. Morris Hare was the Farmall/IH dealer, and Leonard Byrd sold Ford tractors. Dan Phelps was the J.I. Case dealer, and Allis Chalmers tractors were sold by Texas Fruit Growers. Each one of these dealers sold a wide assortment of equipment to till the land. Weatherford now only supports Ellis Equipment and Lonestar New Holland, and they have shrewdly adjusted their inventories to primarily support hobby farmers, along with the hay producers.
This week, I received somewhat of a reality check in regard to farm equipment. In preparation for planting winter wheat for grazing, I wanted to break up the hardpan on my main field. My three-bottom moldboard breaking plow was getting pretty well used up, so I decided to replace the points. I checked Tractor Supply’s website to no avail, and then I called Ellis Equipment. I didn’t get to speak to Rusty, Matt or Mike, but the person with whom I spoke acted like I was looking for a dinosaur saddle. Obviously, there must not be much call for breaking plow points these days.
As it turns out, my obsolete breaking plow is actually not that old. Compared to some of my other equipment, it is quite modern. I still have a horse drawn two-disc drag breaking plow, a single moldboard walk behind breaking plow, a horse drawn sulky rake, sickle mower, cotton stalk cutter, go-devil, and several other reliable and time honored implements just waiting to again go to the field – if I had a horse.
I gave up on replacement parts, and I broke out my welding equipment and commenced plow repairs. After welding on patches, and hard-surfacing the cutting tips, the old plow again ripped the hardpan and rolled over the stubborn soil like it still had factory paint on it. After about four days of dragging it back and forth across my field, I feel like it will probably outlast this old farmer with his obsolete and outdated ways.
Hmmm. Maybe someone could “weld” a few patches on me. …
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to email@example.com.