This will be my first year attending an International Plowing Match. I may be one of the most excited people there, because for reasons I cannot explain, I love all things related to agriculture. I’m a wanna-be farmer.
My darling spouse and bona fide country boy, the Carpenter, insists I am a wanna-be farmer because I would never actually make it as a real one. He has a valid point. But I don’t have to be one to appreciate the trade, the work or the lifestyle. I drove a tractor once, so there.
Apparently long car rides with me through the Wellington countryside playing guess the barn animal by sound effect or, better yet, putting the window down to play guess the manure odour has made my spouse skeptical of my sincerity. It’s funny how that country boy married me, the townie girl, and he still cannot figure out why he is stuck with a girl who has already named her barnyard animals, despite having never owned any.
There is a fundamental difference between our appreciation for the rural landscape, and it is rooted in our childhoods. He takes for granted the way of life that surrounds farming communities because he is from Seaforth, where there are more dairy cows in one barn than there were seniors in his high school (he loves that punchline). But unlike his Huron County upbringing, where school holidays revolved around the spring plant and fall harvest, I knew the joys of public transit and shopping malls and street lights that told me when to come home. Don’t doubt for a second that I don’t know which one of us was luckier.
In fact, every town I ever lived in started off as prime farmland on the outskirts of Toronto, either east or north of the city, and by the time my family moved away, there was almost no fields left. But those malls I knew expanded and were surrounded by subdivisions that swallowed up the farmland. Progress and plywood. Everywhere.
But as a student of Canadian history, I appreciate the agricultural heritage of this nation, of a way of life that is receding in some communities and flourishing in others. And it’s not just farming, it’s the rituals and the traditions, the sense of community building and cooperation that is worth celebrating. It’s that connection to the land. It’s the love of the horse drawn plow and the turn to the machinery that revolutionized the industry, and the way young and old can appreciate and respect both.
I plan to wander the IPM site and see everything, ask questions, observe the culture that makes this event worthwhile for families beyond our borders. I will do so with pride that I live in an area of the province that works hard to balance the rural landscape with growing communities.
The IPM will be a showcase of what this county has always been and what it has the potential to become. I’m excited to experience it.