Walking the Talk

by James Macklen

Living history museums are great places to visit to see different lifestyles. We need to show our support as we are able. One of the best ways to show support is to incorporate some of the newly-discovered practices in our homes. That’s what I do on my farm, and antique equipment is my choice for getting work done.


I use a 1939 John Deere B with a flat belt attached to a buzz rig to process limb wood. It’s easier on my back to move along because I can stand up. While others are going to a gym to exercise, jumping from machine to machine and staring at a wall, I’m outdoors enjoying the scenery and sun. At the end of the day, it’s plain who’s had the greater overall benefit, especially when you consider that sometimes neighbors stop by to visit and lend a hand. Even kids can enjoy stacking wood when it’s a group effort. Suddenly, buzzing wood turns therapeutic for everyone. And even if no one comes, the simple joy of “thought” beats a cell phone conversation any day.

For haying, I match tractors to certain implements for maximum performance. For example, a John Deere 2630 is used to mow, a 1946 John Deere A to rake, and a 1964 John Deere 3020 to bale hay. I put up over 3,000 bales, and while there are others who put up way more, it’s still enough for me to keep my eye on the weather because I want a good product and so do my customers. When figuring out if the weather will hold to make hay, I listen to the weatherman and watch the signs and rhythms of nature. There’s a lot that happens right there in front of our eyes if we take the time to experience what nature tries to teach us.

Be prepared if you are successful with any new practice; it makes you hungry for another and another, and on it goes! Now is a good time to get started while antique equipment is being sold for a fraction of what it’s worth. We need to keep these valuable practices alive. Often, they don’t take any more time than the “labor saving devices” that are thrown in our faces every day.

James Macklen is a 2010 graduate of SUNY Cobleskill having majored in Diesel Mechanics.  He works full time as a diesel mechanic for Porter-Dale Farms and is the owner of a 100 acre farm, North 40 Clover  

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