We hope this newsletter finds everyone well and that you and your family have stayed safe during the pandemic. It appears as if it is going to be an interesting year for our club which is now into year #16. The easing of provincial Covid restrictions on July 1 should open the door somewhat for club events as we move into the next few months. Some of the information in this newsletter has already been sent out in bits and pieces over the past number of months in shorter news "updates". Read ahead and find out what's been happening lately and what will or might be happening as time moves along.
MEETINGS - The directors have been meeting outside at Leo Bilodeau's sawmill shelter in order to plan and organize what has happened already with our farming activities and to get things in motion for some of our summer events if they are able to be held. Our regular monthly general meetings at the Ardrossan Memorial Hall have been on hold due to the Covid situation going all the way back to last year. With the phase 3 reopening in the province soon, it would appear that our monthly general meetings will start up again on Wednesday, July 21 at the Ardrossan Memorial Hall starting at 7 PM as usual. Meetings are also scheduled for later 3rd Wednesdays on August 18, September 15, and October 20 so mark those dates on your calendar. We hope for a good turnout on July 21 because it will be the first time our membership will be able to sign up for August 28 & 29 volunteer work duties at our pull and show.
EXECUTIVE & DIRECTORS - Because we have not held any meetings, our next Annual General Meeting will be pushed back until next April. The current executive and directors will continue on in their roles until then. One club member has been added to the group, Les Ducharme is a welcome addition. Those that have worked with Les in our farming activities so far know him as a very energetic character and we plan to put him to good use as time moves along.
MEMBERSHIP & RENEWALS - At this time, we have 83 regular adult members, one junior member, 37 lifetime members, and 10 honorary members. Two new members have joined up in the last while. John Blackwell is from Tucson, AZ and is our only member living south of the 49th. Meanwhile 3000 km closer to home, Mark Widney from the Ardrossan area has also signed up. Welcome to the club boys, always nice to have some new names on the roster.
Membership renewals have gone well with pretty much everyone having renewed until next spring in 2022. This last round of renewals was extended with no additional fee for an extra year because of the limited number of club events last year. A few stragglers remain but we have been in touch with them and expect them to get that done before the current renewal expiry date at the end of this month.
BREMNER & THE NEW AG FACILITY - The plan as it stands right now is for the county to begin "some type" of work on the new Multi Purpose Ag Facility which has been in the planning stages for a number of years now. Eventually, the entire 270 acres on the site we now know as the "Bremner Farm" will be dedicated to this facility. It is now officially referred to as "Pointe aux Pins Acres" in the community.
For 2021, our own activities on the site have been reduced already since we are no longer farming any grain crops there. Read more about our new grain farming location later in this newsletter. We will hopefully be able to take off our regular two cuttings of hay from the north and south hay fields at Bremner this year. A crew of club members has taken several loads of wood, steel, and general garbage/junk to a variety of disposal sites this spring already. Our site maintenance has been happening with grass mowing, etc. as usual. Helmuth Ritter and his crew upgraded our damaged mower tent shelter with a new tin roof. The material for the project was donated by Glenn Retzlaff (Tru-West Construction) from Fort Saskatchewan.
Next year (2022) at Bremner, our activities will be curtailed even further once the MPAF project moves forward. For now, all of our equipment and other buildings and hardware we own will stay on the site (including the machinery in the quonset) but it will have to be moved somewhere else by the fall of 2022. Exactly where this "somewhere else" will be is not yet known. County councilors and administrators have indicated that they will help us in finding a new home base for our tractor club, hopefully next year or later in 2023. We will pass that information along to our members as it becomes available.
THE 2021 ARDROSSAN PARADE (June 19) - After a year off due to Covid 19, the ARAS group held their annual parade on Saturday, June 19 in conjunction with their weekly farmers market. We participated with 13 members showing up in a parade convoy with 9 tractors, 2 cars, a truck and a Gator. Lindsay Newman (1966 VW Bug) and Jim Koladich (1950 Monarch) arrived in their cars while our flagship road vehicle this year was Wes Heller's 1949 Chevy 1-ton 5-window pickup with a 9-foot box. Wes' truck held our tractor display banners for this year's pull & show. Sten Nielsen made an appearance with his JD Gator, nice to see him out and recovering nicely from his serious foot injury a month ago.
For tractors we had Quentin Janus (McCormick WD9), George Schmidt (Case LA), Rae MacMillan (JD 1010), Roman Sadauskas (Cockshutt 40), Ellis Kumpula (JD 530), Lee Salmon (Allis Chalmers WD 45), Ken Connolly (Cockshutt 550), Don Tauber (Case DC4), and Bob Beveridge (Cockshutt 20) showing up. After the parade, we gathered near the farmer's market and had a static display of the parade tractors and vehicles. Thanks to all of our members who participated in the event this year, especially Don Tauber who was our club contact and organizer this time around. It was nice to get out again for a club event and as an added bonus, our club was awarded a first place ribbon and wall plaque for winning ARAS's Best Antique Parade Entry.
SOME TRACTOR HISTORY: THE FORD 8N - Thousands upon thousands of Ford N-series tractors are still in use today on acreages and small farms worldwide. Our tractor club has our own 8N which we use for light duty farming at the Bremner site. The N-series was introduced in 1939 with the 9N and then the 2N in 1942 during the war. Both incorporated the famous Feguson system 3-point hitch which is still in use today by most manufacturers. Henry Ford II took the company over from his father in 1945 and he steered the Ford motor company in a new direction after it had lost about $10 million selling their tractors through Ferguson dealerships for six years. Ford soon divorced from the Ferguson partnership and by 1948, they initiated their own dealership network and came out with a new (but similar) model 8N along with a new grey and red paint scheme and their own line of implements for the 3-point hitch system.
The new tractors looked similar but the 120 cubic inch flathead engine was now rated at 26 horsepower at the PTO. A 4-speed gearbox showed up for the first time and the brake, hydraulic and steering systems were improved. A 3-speed auxiliary transmission was later available as an option resulting in 12 forward and 3 reverse speeds. By the time the last year of production ended in 1952, over 500,000 8N's had been produced. The 1953 Golden Jubilee series replaced the 8N in 1953 with a bigger, heavier, and more powerful tractor but it was still recognizable as being a Ford and it retained many of the N-series features.
SVTA 2021 GRAIN FARMING - Because of the fact the county has not allowed us back onto the grain fields at Bremner, we found it necessary to find a new place to keep our farm operations going. And that is very important since our grain farming (along with our haying to a lesser degree) makes up by far the bulk of our annual income now. So we have leased a 50-acre parcel of gently rolling farmland immediately south of Leo Bilodeau's farm alongside Rg Rd 221. New club member Mark Widney and his wife Jane are the property owners. We have signed a 5-year lease with an option to renew or opt out every year so we feel it is a great opportunity to keep our vintage farming operations going and to provide that activity for the club members who enjoy doing that. Later this summer, our Bremner grain bins will be moved over to the new site which we will refer to as the "East 50"..
In May, club members held a seed cleaning bee at the Bilodeau farm and like farmers did decades ago, we used two fanning mills to clean barley from last year's harvest at Bremner. We then disked and harrowed the soil, picked tons of rocks, seeded and then gave the East 50 a final harrowing. So far, it looks like a bumper crop with some great weather and welcome moisture when needed. We will contract the crop to be sprayed for weeds when necessary and come fall time, we'll be back taking the crop off.
TRACTOR PULL & SHOW WEEKEND 2021 - If everything goes according to plan this summer and after a year off, we will hold our annual open-to-the-public pull and show this year but only if county and provincial Covid regulations allow it to happen and at this time, that seems very likely to happen. As usual, it is held on the weekend before the labour day weekend, so that would be August 28 & 29. The pull organizing committee has been organized under the leadership of Sten Neilsen and those members will be getting together in order to make sure that things go as smoothly as they have in the past. Information will be sent out to club members as we move into July and then August.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Bremner site will not be available for tractor pulling or any club events next year in 2022 although as already mentioned, our machinery and equipment can stay until 2022 fall when everything we now have out there must be removed from the site. From what we have seen of the MPAF plans, the pulling track will remain in place in future years and will likely be available for us to hold our annual pull and show there if no other site is available or we don't have a suitable home base for ourselves by then. If that happens though, we would be simply moving onto the Bremner site for a weekend pull and show event. Things will not be the same as they are now since the county will have taken over operation of the whole property, including the track by that time.
2021 ROAD TOUR AND FUN PULL - Hopefully we will be able to hold a road tour and members-only fun pull weekend at the Bremner site around the end of July or early August. Keep in mind this is tentative but if we do, it would follow the same format as last year when we did both events on the weekend of the cancelled 2020 tractor pull and show. So road tour Saturday morning and then fun-pulling Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. More information on that will be sent out when we know more about what's happening with everything.
NEW CLUB PURCHASES - We are optimistic that our club activities will continue into the future wherever that might be. As a result, we have purchased two "new to us" pieces of equipment for our farming operations. First, a Versatile 400 self-propelled hydrostatic swather is currently at Rob Speedie's shop and being fixed up a bit by our go-to repair guy Al Rice and his helpers. The swather can be used for grain harvesting duties and also for cutting and windrowing hay crops with its hay crimper attachment. Also new-to-us and also at the Speedie shop is a nice, medium-sized Canadian-made Thomas skid steer loader c/w bucket and pallet forks. We already know how valuable skid steers are over the past years after using Leo's so often and also Tom Speedie's machine.
In addition to the farm equipment, we have also purchased a second sea-can, this time a 48-foot model which we have stored at Leo's farm. Along with this, a brand new galvanized steel quonset package (never erected) was purchased and is now stored in the new sea can. Our hope is that eventually when we find a permanent home, we will erect it on the new site and it will provide shelter for our pulling sled and more valuable farm equipment.
TRACTOR TECH: SEDIMENT BOWLS - Sediment bowls (actually a combination on-off fuel valve & fuel filter) have been around forever and most vintage tractor owners still prefer to use them as opposed to more modern inline filters. Most of them are threaded directly into the bottom of the fuel tank using a tapered pipe thread. They also serve as a gas line shut off valve which unfortunately is often ignored and not used. The shut off valve should always be closed if the tractor is expected to sit (not running) for any length of time. Some owners keep the original sediment bowl units and then perhaps add an additional inline filter between the bowl and the carburetor while others scrap the sediment bowl assembly entirely and replace it with a simple on/off shutoff valve and then add a separate inline filter on the fuel line. Some sediment bowl units have a short stub which protrudes up into the tank a short distance to avoid drawing fuel from the very bottom of the tank where sediment and water might accumulate.
The fuel enters the bowl in a downwards direction by gravity from the tank through an opening in the center of the screen and it is filtered as it attempts to leave the bowl in an upward direction towards the fuel line. Some screens are still made from a fine brass mesh while many use a plastic material. Unwanted sediment and water settles or is filtered out and left behind at the bottom of the bowl. A lot of tractor running issues can be attributed to problems with the sediment bowl filtering screen itself, sometimes being plugged, damaged or in some cases, missing entirely.
Maintenance of a sediment bowl assembly is a basic procedure involving simple cleaning of parts and reassembly, but inspect the parts closely. Leaks can occur at the threads of the fuel tank location, the gasket between the body and the glass bowl, or at the shut off valve where the packing can become old and brittle. Removal of the bowl for cleaning must be done carefully. A simple mishandling mistake combined with a concrete floor can leave the owner in a tough situation if he doesn't have a replacement glass bowl as a backup.
FARM CROPS FROM 2020 - All of our baled hay and straw from 2020 has been sold and long gone from the Bremner site. Last fall, most of our barley and oat crops that were temporarily stored in our bins and our ground storage ring & tarp left the site before winter really set in via B-train trucking to feed lots in Southern Alberta. A fourth bin held surplus barley over winter and just this month, a crew of club members showed up to fill a number of tote bags for small animal feed sales to local customers. The barley remaining in that bin will be eventually sold off in bags or in bulk this summer. We have three wagons of oat bundles from last fall's harvest stored in the quonset for our threshing demonstrations at this year's pull and show at the end of August.
SOME COUNTRY HUMOUR - a farmer was driving his tractor along the road with a trailer load of natural fertilizer behind. A little boy was walking home from fishing at the local pond when he saw the farmer and asked, "What you got in your trailer mister?" The farmer answered. "Why son, I have a fresh load of cow manure". The young fella asked, "What do you plan to do with it?" The farmer said, "When I get home I plan to put it on my strawberries." The young man replied, "You ought to come and eat with us at my house. We put ice-cream on our strawberries."
So that's the tractor club news as we move into the warmer days of summer. We hope to see you at whatever events we have this year. Until then, stay safe and remember that bull riding is one of those sports that got started with the words, "Watch this, hold my beer". In the meantime, HAPPY TRACTORING !!!