By Lorne Buchanan – Winnipeg, Man.
I grew up on a farm at Francis, 42 miles southeast of Regina, and remember many of the living conditions during the ‘30s and I recall how hard my parents and neighbours had to work to survive.
I have a story I can’t forget. My first introduction to Massey-Harris machinery was when I was four years old. My father had bought a new 12-foot cultivator in 1929.
On its first day of use, it was being pulled by two six-horse teams in tandem with my father driving the lead team and Andy Eslinger, the hired man, the rear. Both were standing on a triangular shaped platform.
All was going well. Since they were working near the farmyard, I was in the field to watch. Somehow I managed to convince my dad to let me hitch a ride on the cultivator.
I sat on the platform with my feet dangling over the edge. As I recall, everything was going well until we came to the end of the field at the road.
Undoubtedly, my father wasn’t used to the wide swing turn and the outside lead horse, Babe, stepped down into the deep ditch recently dug by an elevating grader. Unfortunately the lines broke resulting in no control of the lead team.
The horse next to Babe was a bronco named Pete. He was an excellent worker but quite unpredictable. On a couple of occasions he had kicked my father and Andy. I remember Andy eating through a straw for a number of weeks with his jaw wired in place.
Horses in full gallop
The horses started to run because the power lift took the shovels out of the ground and consequently there was no appreciable load to pull. The power lift was activated by a foot pedal and my father couldn’t trip it fast enough for the cultivator shovels to stay in the ground.
At this time, the horses were in full gallop and as they swung both my father and Andy fell off. The wheel ran over dad and knocked his wind out. Andy was not hurt seriously.
I was still hanging on for dear life. The lead team swung and the long chain tripped the rear horses and the cultivator went over some of them. With such a bumpy ride, I still don’t know how I managed to stay on.
When the cultivator stopped I opened my eyes and horses were scattered all around. A few were still standing. One horse was badly injured and was on disability for a year.
The local doctor, Dr. Tucker, came out to the farm and sewed up a big cut in the horse’s flank. There were no veterinarians in our area so that’s why Dr. Tucker was called.
He came out to treat his patient every two days for a week or more. The other horses were cut and bruised but survived the ordeal.
It was quite an experience for a four-year old! It put an end to my hitching a ride on machinery for a few years. The cultivator wasn’t used again until 1937, when dad bought the Massey Harris Pacemaker on rubber.