Howell Living History Farm Plowing Match

On September 5, Howell Farm held its 37th annual farm plowing match.

According to the Farm’s website, the plowing event “kicked off a 10-month growing season for Howell Farm’s fall crops: wheat, rye, barley, and the old-fashioned “bearded wheat” known as spelt.”

“Plowing is the first step in “working up” the soil into a seedbed where the fall crops will be planted,” the website explains. “Loosening the compacted layer of soil lets in water and air, while also burying weeds and other organic material as fertilizer.

“When the match is over, our farmers will finish the field by joining the “lands” that the contestants plowed. Next they’ll “pack” down the plowed field with a horse-drawn roller, and slice up remaining dirt clods with a harrow. Finally, the horses will drag a plank across the loose soil to flatten it before planting the field with a grain drill. 

“Fall crops will be harvested next July using a horse-drawn reaper-binder, before they are threshed with help from a steam engine and finally ground into flour.”

All photos by Mike Chipowsky

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