Thursday, October 7, 2010

The making of Gettin' PLowed, 2012 Calendar

Nancy and I always feel lucky to be invited to this event. You see, all the other guys bring tractors with plows, and they are ready to spend the day plowing with antique tractors without cabs, exposing themselves to the wind and cold for hour after hour, which is, of course, exactly what we all did when we we helped our parents actually farm with the tractors.  Not to worry, though, because these are hardy fellows, many of whom are used to challenging the weather while they do all sorts of hunting, fishing, and farming.
In my case, however, I bring Nancy and her camera. I walk around with her as she spends part of the day taking great pictures. Then she carefully crops them and uses them to create a calendar she calls "Gettin' Plowed."
Nancy and I both love the atmosphere of the whole day, the crisp fall temperatures, the bright and varied colors of the leaves, the musty smell of the earth as the plow turns the soil over, and the jovial attitude projected by all the participants and their audience. It all mingles to create an experience that no one wants to miss.
This year we arrive at Cousin Dan and Deb Cervenka's place about 10:30 AM on Saturday, October 2, 2010, and the group is ready to assemble for a quick photo before heading out to the field.
From left to right, Scott Cervenka, Deb Cervenka, Dan Cervenka, Bob Hrabe, Ben Cervenka, Dick Mushitz, Dick Franek, Brian Cervenka, Emil Chlan, Gordon Fredrickson, Gertie Chlan, Nancy Fredrickson, Lori Cervenka.
Nancy and Lori are both taking pictures, and more photographers and observers will arrive as the day passes.

The plowers drive their rigs out to the field and prepare to begin.
Ben Cervenka, who was one of the original group of four men who started the event in 2000, ceremoniously begins the first round by finding a stationary object in the distance and trying to plow a straight line, which is parallel to the field's edge, toward the object.

Then each tractor takes its turn to begin.

The above picture shows the eight tractors on the return leg of the first round.
Below is the back view of the first round.

Of course, not everything goes smoothly. The ground is wet, which causes lots of slippage, especially for Dan who challenged himself with operating a 1937 F-20 with steel lugs, which are known for digging.
The wheel begin slipping and digging and his plow goes deeper, making the wheel dig more.

But Dan doesn't give up. His solution is to manually lift the one bottom on the plow, which you see him struggle with below,

and then, as you see in the next photo, he is able to continue plowing.
I gave him a round of applause for that bit of action, but I'm sure he didn't hear me with the purring of the F-20 next to him.
It doesn't take long for the gulls to arrive. Where were they all hiding out, anyway?
Deb Cervenka, the event's hostess, stops by to see when to bring out lunch, which she decides to bring out about 1:00 PM.
After lunch she and her mother, Gertie, prepare for a 6 PM supper, but when preparations are done, Deb comes out to help plow. She's a versatile lady.

Truth be told, Deb may be a bit concerned about her father, Emil, who is recovering from surgery and will be 80 years old this month, but who is out there plowing with a WD-45. Like the other fellows, he plows because he enjoys it, even though the ride is a bit rough.
Emil Chlan, driving Dan Cervenka's 1954 Allis Chalmers WD-45.
 Dan is his son-in-law and the host of the event.

Here's the rest of the lineup:
Ben Cervenka, driving his 1964 Allis Chalmers D17 diesel.
Ben is in his mid-70's and is also recovering from surgery.
These guys are determined. Ben is one of the organizers of the original event, which dates back to the year 2000.
Ben's son Brian, driving his 1958 Allis Chalmers D-14.

Ben's son Scott, driving his 1952 Allis Chalmers C-A.
Scott comes all the way from Askov to plow in this event.

Dick Mushitz, driving his 1952 Massey-Harris diesel.

Dick Franek, driving his 1937 Oliver Standard.

 Bob Hrabe, driving Dick Franek's 1953 Oliver 88.

Dan Cervenka, driving his 1937 F-20.
Dan is the son of Dan "Red" Cervenka, who passed away in 2001.
Red was Ben's younger brother.

Dan likes to carry on the tradition because the first event was hosted by his father in 2000.
According to his uncle Ben, this is how it got started:

 Ben explained, “My brother “Red” had 10 acres to plow and he told me to bring my tractors to help him.”

Ben and his son Brian came over to help “Red” and his son Danny plow the 10 acres. It didn’t take long, and since they enjoyed using the old tractors, they planned to do it again the next year.
But in 2001, “Red” was seriously ill with cancer and could only watch the fun while others joined the group. “Red” passed away the following December and since then friends and family assemble every year to plow together with the old tractors, missing only two years since 2000.
When asked why they plow with the old machinery, Ben replied, “It’s fun to get together with friends and use the old tractors that our Dads farmed with and that we farmed with as we grew up on the farm.”

A few years after their first plowing event, Red's good friend Dick Franek and his son Dick, Jr. brought their Oliver and Allis-Chalmers tractors to the plowing event to help with the plowing. Dick, Sr. passed away from cancer shortly after his last plowing event in 2008, but his son continues to bring the tractors and is a major player in the event's continued success. 

The day was fun, as usual, but Nancy and I had to leave at 5:00 PM. Although we couldn't stay for supper, I know that everyone enjoyed a great meal hosted by Deb and Gertie, and I'm sure they all talked and laughed about the events of the day. Also, you can bet that planning for next year's Gettin' Plowed Event is already in the making.

Neighbor combining in adjacent field.

Find beauty in simple things,
Joy in common events,
Love all around.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson


  1. This would make for an interesting magazine feature story, Gordon. Can I invite myself to the 2011 plowing event? Let me know.

  2. I loved reading this post. I wasn't able to come to the event in my own back yard but I'm happy to experience it through your blog. I hadn't known how it started. Thank you for keeping dad alive in your stories.
    Red's daughter, Terrie Cervenka Schoenbauer