Today, you can find these old farm implements scattered around deserted pastures, objects that look more like torture devices than tools. A day spent on one of these must have been agony for both the men who used them as well as the beasts that pulled them from sunup to sundown on a blistering summer’s day.
Out on the Delta these days you see a solitary tractor plowing or planting hundreds of acres. The cab housing the operator is enclosed and air conditioned. Most likely music blares from an internal sound system.
What it must have been like to spend a day operating a small implement pulled by a mule or horse. The dust and heat must have been stifling. Sounds would have consisted of the ripping of the earth as the steel plowed it, the grunts of the animal, and a loud “Gee” or “Haw” at the turnrow commanding a swing to the right or to the left.
One time I told my daddy, who had seen these days, about a movement by disaffected yuppies who were “returning to the soil” to live in harmony with the land. I told him how they were even returning to the old ways of tilling the earth, to the point of using the old farming equipment.
Daddy cocked his head toward me in surprise. He uttered but one word. “Why?”
The old friends lay rusting beneath the trees now and those who used them lie buried in the earth. The metal wheels and perforated seats still stand above the briars and undergrowth. Sweet gum saplings grow through their steel frames. If you are one of those who are prone to attach, at times, human emotions to inanimate objects, you can’t help wondering if they are waiting for man and beast to return.
I have heard that there are still companies that manufacture these implements for certain religious groups and third world countries. Maybe that is a good thing. We just might need them again someday.