Picture this: a commercial insurance broker and landlord herself, typically high-heeled up and armed with spreadsheets, advice on rebuilding costs vs. current market re-sale prices and encouraging loss of rental income coverage, gets an invitation to an event called the International Plowing Match. The mental image involved tractors, plowing, a slow race of some sort, and a whole lot of head-scratching. What’s a gal like me going to do at a plowing match? Well, read on as I’m about to spill the beans on my unexpected adventure in the world of the International Plowing Match.
It all began when I received a mysterious invitation from the farm team. “Hey Kathleen, would you like to attend the plowing match with us?” “What even is a plowing match…” I thought. “Surely, there must be some mistake. Are they trying to go viral on TikTok with some sort of prank?” I worried to myself. But the lure of curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to venture beyond the spreadsheets and into the heart of the countryside.
Turns out, plowing is serious business! As the Farm Team and I arrive and park (in someone’s thankfully not-muddy-field) there before us are rows of tractors with hay wagons in tow, each with a real farmer ready to get everyone to the main event VIP Style – move over Uber, Farmuber is here! As we bump along past fields, barns, and picturesque farms, the morning sun kissing our cheeks, I decide I like this ride more than my 45 minute, podcast-listening, red lights commute – weather permitting, of course.
As the wagon comes to a stop and we descend from atop the hay, I look around in awe at all the massive tents set up – this was something bigger than I could have ever imagined. Picture the circus coming to town and then quadruple that. Everyone we pass is walking with a metre stick…a YARD stick, I later learned. What in the world? And THIS stick is the hot commodity of the event? Everyone is lining up to get their very own, which we thankfully have a good supply of at our booth under one of the many large tents where we help to represent one of our farm insurance carriers – The Commonwell. I ask a couple people around me why the sticks are in such high demand, but I don’t get an answer… I make a mental note to ask more people until I get an explanation.
I soon discover that plowing is not just about turning soil; it’s an art form. The plowmen (yes, that’s what they call themselves) navigate their tractors through a maze of precision, competing to create the straightest furrows in the field (furrows aren’t just for brows, people… and there is a Queen of the Furrows, too– which is ALSO a Tragically Hip song – gosh, the things you can learn at a plowing match!) Judges then examine the furrows like they are pricing a rare Faberge egg! We meet a few very proud wives’ of the Judges and they tell us this is their 25th plowing match!
Although we missed it, I listen attentively as one of the attendees describes one of the highlights of the event – the tractor parade! Think fashion show for farm machinery with the Queen of the Furrows atop her glorious royal “carriage.”
There is food of every kind imaginable – yes, even veggie burgers for the Vegans like me! Lemonade stands like the ones at the CNE, and my absolute favourite: The Blooming Onion! Between shifts at The Commonwell booth, we wade through artisan tents, information booths, and even get to look an Alpaca named Ghost right in the eye! We venture over to the music tent and run into some clients from the office – it is always great to run into a familiar face in the crowd – especially a crowd where everyone is wielding sticks and no one is telling me what they are for!
As the day comes to a close, I realize that my adventure at the International Plowing Match has taught me some valuable lessons.
- There’s a whole world beyond your usual limits!
- Farming and Plowing is an ART form – and one farmers take great pride in.
- Events with “plowing” in the name are much more entertaining and eye-opening than you might expect.
- Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore the unexpected – you might just stumble upon a tractor-load of fun!
- Remember – try to plow through life with a sense of humor and an open mind!
- No one seems to know what the yard sticks are all about. If you know, please call the office immediately or comment below. The unknown is dreadful, and I really need to know what I am supposed to do with mine!