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Saturday October 20, 2018

plow day a success

Thursday, May 03, 2018 16:39 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

It takes much longer and is more dangerous but plowing by horse and mule was celebrated by farmers doing it the old-fashioned way.

Spectators also seemed to bask in the occasion.

The annual Plow Day was hosted Sunday by the LaPorte County Draft Horse Association at the historic nine-sided Door Prairie barn on U.S 35 outside the southern edge of LaPorte.

A half dozen or more farmers pulled by draft horses and draft mules plowed a 5-acre parcel for Bannwart Farms in North Liberty to plant corn.

Kaelynn Ludlow-Deckard brought her 7-year old daughter, Kendall, and 3-year old son, Mason, to learn animals fastened to plows before tractors came along tilled the soil.

''I think it's interesting for them to learn that it never used to be that way,'' said Ludlow-Deckard, whose family raises pigs, chickens and cows on an 8-acre farm on 500 South near Kingsbury.

Larry Smith, co-chairman of the event, couldn't have been happier with the sunshine, mild temperatures and drier soil a week after Plow Day was rescheduled due to cold and heavy rain.

''Everything is better today and we're really pleased with the turnout. We're having a great time out here,'' said Smith.

Food and beverages were available at the event used by the LCDHA as a fund raiser.

Smith said the group featured in the past on RFD-TV and national trade publications has about 30 adult members.

Youth membership varies from 50 to 60, more than any other draft horse association in the nation, he said.

Ryan Halter brought three of the six draft horses his family keeps on 13 acres near Rolling Prairie.

Riding on a horse drawn plow can be exhausting and dangerous especially if the blade hits a large rock buried in the ground.

Halter said he was on a plow once that tipped over from hitting a rock.

Fortunately, the horses stopped before the blade came into contact with one of his legs.

''If you have rocky ground, you can get hurt,'' Halter said.

Steve Gazdick brought two draft mules from his 250 acre farm near Union Mills to pull the plow he sat on for the Pioneer-like experience.

He obtained the mules last year from a tobacco farm in Pennsylvania where they were used to help till the soil.

Gazdick said he uses the mules to gather firewood, pull logs out of woods, spread manure and gather hay raised on about ten acres of his spread.

''I've seen a pair of mules that weighed 3,200 pounds between them and they pulled over 14,000 pounds for 20 feet. They can pull,'' Gazdick said.

Gazdick, a longtime member of the LPDHA and a past president, said RFD-TV once featured the organization in one of its programs, ''Gentle Giants.''

The program that aired in 2015 was about the largest 4-H draft horse show in the country being in LaPorte.

In 2017, the Draft Horse Journal also did a write-up about the group ''empowering youth'' with its 4-H draft horse program.

Marion Ridgeway put up the Door Prairie barn in 1882 and raised Clydesdale stallions from Scotland and other horse breeds along with cattle on the property, according to local historians.

''This field had been plowed by horses for many, many years and we're just pleased we can come back and use it for this purpose,'' Smith said.
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