Parkinson plows his way to first-place finish

Joey Parkinson’s tractor has a few years on him – over 40 to be exact – but that didn’t stop him from plowing through to take the top title in the antique tractor class at this year’s International Plowing Match in Ivy.

When asked about the age difference, Parkinson just laughs. “The antique guys usually go with the antique equipment I guess.”

At 23, Parkinson was the youngest out of 20 competitors and it was only his second time in the big field. He said he just wanted to beat his score from the previous year.

“I think I came in 11th last year and I was just trying to beat that,” he says. “I had no idea I was going to win. Just beat my personal best – that’s all I ever try to do.”

In preparation for the fall event, Parkinson says he attended 10 of the area’s smaller matches, but admits there is a lot more pressure at the IPM.

“There’s more competition, you’re more concentrated. At your local match you’re just doing it one day, but at the IPM you have four consecutive days and it’s a total of the points you achieve over the four days,” he says.

Despite being the youngest competitor by a long shot, he said that part wasn’t intimidating.

“When I first started plowing at the local matches, it was kind of intimidating being the younger guy, but now I know most of the people and they’re all pretty good guys.”

Competitors are generally judged in five different areas including the opening split, crown and finish – covering any green matter is mandatory in all classes.

In the antique class, plows are expected to be of the same time period as the tractor in use.

Parkinson says he learned to plow on a fourth-generation Massey 44 that belongs to his family. In this year’s competition he rode a recently-purchased Massey Harris 22, only to uncover a photo of his grandfather riding the same model at the Carp IPM in 1952.

“It was pretty funny,” Parkinson said of finding the photo.

He said he enjoys the antique class over other types of plowing because of its simplicity and the laid back atmosphere out in the field.

“It’s a little bit more simple and you can have a little bit more fun. I kind of look at (the other classes) and scratch my head – they take it very seriously,” he says.

“But in the antique one, (the competitors) are all a little older and they’ve done this for the last 60 years so they’re not too stressed out about it.”

While it can be challenging, Parkinson says there is more of an equal starting ground in plowing than other types of competition.

“I used to show 4-H cows, but when you’re showing cattle you go to every fair and every time that guy who showed up and beat you at the last fair, he’s going to beat you at this one,” he laughs. “With plowing, every day is a fresh start. The guy who’s been plowing for 60 years might hit a rock and screw up and that’s my chance to win.”

Parkinson recently finished a stint at the University of Guelph Ridgetown campus studying agriculture and now co-farms with his dad outside of Hillsburgh.

He has also started his own trucking business transporting grain for neighbours. For him, getting into farming was a no-brainer.

“My dad did it, my grandpa did it and his grandpa did it all the way back – it just came natural to me and I enjoy a lot of it,” he said.