We've had a relatively busy year considering the Covid situation and our status at Bremner going forward being questionable. Nonetheless, we did get in an almost-regular slate of farming and other events to keep us busy. This newsletter will pick up where the last one in June left off. Read ahead and find out what's been happening and what we expect to be happening as we finish up 2021 and move into 2022.
Memberships - Your current membership expires next spring. It had been extended into a 2-year membership because of the reduced number of activities in 2020 due to Covid. Information will be sent out next spring regarding renewals. At this time we have approximately 150 members including adult, junior, lifetime and honorary members, our most ever since we started up in 2005.
Since our last newsletter back in June, we have added 26 regular adult members. From within the borders of Sherwood Park are Robert Minogue and Bob Weller. From Ardrossan we added Leighton Larson, Richard Thompson, and Daryl Marler. From elsewhere in Strathcona County we had Ken Timperley, Bryan Davidson, Randy Cramer, Aaron Kvalnes, Jim Yuill, Paul Ducharme, and John Missel joining up. JJ Bowerman from Edmonton has rejoined the club after several years away and we had three new members from the St. Albert & Sturgeon County area with Jake Peters, Blair Cleave, and Dale Schaefers being added to our roster. Two new members arrived from Sangudo, Clarence Liss and Don Saunders, while a pair of new members from the Leduc area signed up, Richard Nessler and Patrick Givogue. Also a pair from Fort Saskatchewan are welcomed, Mark Phillips and Don Rever. Finally, Ken Nufeld (Tofield), Lester Nicholls (St. Lina), Mark Phillips (Ft. Sask), Ed Krahn (Grande Prairie) and Glen Garnett (Blackfalds) round out the list of new adult members. Three new junior members (under 19 years of age) have joined the ranks as well including Connor Wilson (Sherwood Park), Nicholas Anders (Edmonton), and Carter Dutka (Gibbons). Welcome to the club everyone, glad to have you on board and we hope to see you at our meetings and events as time moves along.
Road Tour and Fun Pull Weekend (July 31 & August 1) - Last year when the Covid restrictions shut down our 2020 Pull & Show, we held the annual Road Tour & Fun Pull weekend at the end of August on what would have been the dates for our big annual event. With this year's pull scheduled for the end of August again, we moved back a month and things worked out quite well. On Saturday morning, about a dozen tractors took part in the road tour, a count somewhat less than usual but it was a long weekend and that likely affected the numbers. Rae MacMillian led the tour entourage on a shortened eight-mile route which finished back at Bremner at lunch time. Members brought their own picnic or brown bag lunches on Saturday and afterwards, the fun pulling began and continued into Sunday.
Over the two days of pulling, we had about 35 tractors show up and it gave the owners an opportunity to check their tractor's weight and see how the old iron pulled after a winter's rest. Lunch and cold drinks were provided by the club and almost 50 people showed up for that. The pizza was delicious and was supplied by the Graham Road location of Nitza's Pizza. Thanks to Tom Speedie for organizing that part of the weekend. It was a good thing we set up the distance display sign, we found out that there was a glitch with the electronic sending unit from the sled to the sign and we ordered a new one from the manufacturer and sent the old one back for repair and updating.
Josephburg "Pop Up" Event (August 11) - The J-Burg Ag Society hosted their first "Pop Up" event at the Moyer Rec Center on Wednesday evening, August 11. The term "pop up" referred to the pop up tent canopy shelters that most of the community groups and vendors were scheduled to erect in the parking lot, although everyone except us moved inside due to the windy conditions. We set up a static tractor display and we handed out small information sheets advertising our pull and show at the end of August. Members showing up with their tractors included Tom Emes (JD 730), Rae MacMillan (Ford Jubilee), Leo Bilodeau (JD model BR), Aaron Kvalnes (Case C), Rob Speedie (Massey Ferguson 25) and Bob Beveridge (Cockshutt 20). Thanks to all for showing up. As we move into next year we suspect there will be more of these kinds of events for our members to participate in.
Mennonite Heritage Farm Event (August 14 & 15) - Our club was invited to attend and participate in the annual Mennonite Heritage Farm event on the weekend of August 14 & 15. This year the event was part of the province's "Alberta Open Farm Days" weekend which showcased a large number of similar locations offering visitors the chance to see Alberta agriculture in action.
A wide variety of displays welcomed visitors including live music and a farmer's market. The Mennonite group grow and maintain a large number of community garden plots on the site. We had 8 tractors show up in total, some of which were in a static display and some were put to work. Those included Bob Beveridge's Co-op E2, George Schmidt's Case LA and Farmall M, Leo Bilodeau's pair of John Deere BO's, Don Tauber's Allis Chalmers WD45, Stan Podulsky's John Deere M, and Rae MacMillan's Ford Jubilee.
Visitors were able to tour the whole site with Rae MacMillan's Ford providing the power for the Northrup Express wagon. During the tour, stops were made at the plowing demonstrations provided by Leo and Stan. Meanwhile, George Schmidt used his vintage farming expertise piloting the site's own Farmall C & sickle mower unit to show visitors how hay was cut back in the day. Thanks to all for showing up and providing exposure for our club in the community, and a special thank-you goes out to Bob Beveridge for organizing the whole weekend for us.
Some Tractor History: Allis Chalmers Model G - The Allis Chalmers model G is unique in the history of vintage tractors. First introduced in 1948 as a "hoe on wheels" for truck gardeners, the most distinctive feature of the G was its tiny 62 cubic-inch, four cylinder, 10 HP Continental engine which was positioned behind the operator. Tubular frame members extended forward supporting the front wheels and providing a mounting location for a wide variety of implements. Operator visibility was paramount in the design for cultivating and a small section of the steering wheel was omitted to avoid blocking the driver's view. In the lowest gear out of the three available, a speed of one mile per hour was possible. A total of 30,000 of the little 1550 pound tractors were manufactured until production stopped in 1955.
SVTA 2021 Vintage Tractor Pull and Show (August 28 & 29) - After taking 2020 off due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we were back into the swing of things and held our 16th annual vintage tractor pull and show on the weekend of August 28 & 29 at the Bremner farmsite. Before we forget, a big thank you must go out to the members of our pull planning committee which was headed up by Sten Nielsen this year.
Kudos are also passed along to all of our volunteer workers who again did an admirable job with the variety of work duties that happen over the two days. And let's not forget our sponsors who provided items and services for the show and all the businesses, individuals and families who donated items to our silent auction fundraiser. And last but not least, the weatherman who provided perfect conditions for all who attended and worked the event.
This year we had a record number of paid admissions at the front gate (approximately 2000 over the two days) and that doesn't include the under-14 kids who get in for free. Our 50-50 sales this year were the biggest ever. Our 3 big tents were provided for us at no charge by the Ardrossan Recreation and Agricultural Society and those provided shelter for our vendors, garage sale, and silent auction. Thanks ARAS, we appreciate your generosity.
In addition to the pulling, we had a number of activities that kept the kids busy including toy tractor riding on the track along with blindfold races, a gigantic sand pile with toys, an 8-car kiddie train taking the youngsters around the site, a bouncing castle and face painting. The county didn't provide mansion tours this year but the rebuilt Northrup Express wagon was kept busy with tours around our part of the Bremner farm property.
A parade of power happened on both days for visitors who liked to stay close to the track. Displays and demonstrations included our regular oat threshing bee, a huge yard & garden tractor display, a working small engine demonstration and a live earth-moving equipment demonstration on the west field. Also on site was our regular display of vintage cars, trucks, and miscellaneous equipment for visitors to enjoy. Of course, we can't forget the food truck vendors who kept everyone fed and the newest feature this year, an ATM cash machine.
Total tractor registrations in our 10 weight classes numbered 116, our best ever with about 65 pullers participating in the action. All of the pulling results are posted on our website, see the link on the left hand side of our home page at www.strathconavintagetractor.com. The first three finishers in each class received trophies as well as one of us who received the "tough luck" award. Our pulling sled with all of the upgrades and a fresh coat of paint and new decals performed flawlessly over the two days.
As we mentioned in our last newsletter in June, our future at the site is in transition but wherever we end up we can rest assured that our annual pull and show will be as successful as possible depending on where it might happen. Our club and its members always seem to be able to plan and put on an event that is a credit to our association and the community where we reside.
Kumpula Recognition Plaque - This year marks the first year since our inception in 2005 that Ellis and Yvette Kumpula have stepped back from their club involvement with the tractor pull. Actually, they hosted the first three editions of our pull and show at their farm alongside Rg Rd 222 until 2008 when we moved the event onto the Bremner site. Ellis always headed up the pull planning committee and Yvette developed and ran our computer registration and pulling results program that we still use. In recognition of this, our club awarded them with a special thank-you plaque on the pull weekend for their involvement, dedication and hard work over the years. Thanks Ellis and Yvette, you've done a great job.
The Northrup Express Wagon - Here's a bit of club history that our newer club members probably aren't aware of, and all of us should find it interesting. Back in the fall of 2004, Al Northrup came up with an idea to organize a group of old tractor and machinery enthusiasts and form a club. Al contacted a small group of his friends and before anyone knew it, we had our first meeting at the Robin Hood School in March of 2005 and were incorporated as a not-for-profit society by August. The rest, as they say, is history. Al has always been officially recognized as our founding member.
The Northrup family owned a parade wagon for several years and they used to bring it out to our early pulls and events to provide rides for all the visitors who showed up. Sadly, Al passed away ten years ago in December and we still miss his welcoming smile and friendly personality. Shortly after, Norma and her children Rick, Darryl, and Trevor donated the wagon to our club. We promptly named it the "The Northrup Express" and have used it at all of our Bremner pulls as well as off-site parades and events. This past summer we did a bit of work on it with Al Rice and Rob Speedie rebuilding the undercarriage chassis and steering and installing new tires. After that, Rae MacMillan replaced some of the upper woodwork seating and rails before laying down a fresh coat of paint. It's put away again for winter storage in the Bremner quonset but will be back in action next year when things fire up again.
SVTA 2021 Farming - Our June newsletter brought everyone up to date on our farming activities this year to that point. To summarize, because of the MPAF supposedly moving forward, we were denied access to the far north and west fields at Bremner for our grain farming this year. As a result, we leased a 50-acre parcel of farmland next door to Leo Bilodeau's place from club member Mark Widen on Rg Rd 221 where we cultivated, picked rocks, harrowed and finally seeded our 2021 barley crop. Our hay operations at Bremner on the north and south hay fields were all finished up before the tractor pull and show weekend. The hay yield was somewhat less than normal, especially for the second cut due to the hot and dry weather.
A lot of our equipment had to be moved to the new "East 50" site on Rg Rd 221. We completed some repairs at the Bremner site first, one of our JD combines was given a once over and a tune up before driving it over. Then our three hay wagons made the trip along with one of our small swathers, we'll use the wagons for barley bundle storage this winter and the bundles will be threshed at our 2022 pull wherever that might be. Also moved was our small square baler which we'll use for straw baling once the harvest is done with.
As we moved into mid-September, a crew of volunteers moved 4 empty grain bins from Bremner over to the new "East-50" site. It's amazing what can be done with a couple of skid steers and some pickup trucks and trailers. Other equipment necessary for the 2021 grain harvest was also moved over and things started up for the fall harvest on September 20 when we had a crew of members binding and stooking bundles from a small portion of the site for storage on our hay wagons and future use at a threshing bee at a tractor pull.
By the first week of October, all the barley was combined and binned along with a few large tote bags for smaller sales to local horse and cattle customers. The barley sheaves that the binder kicked out a few weeks earlier were put onto our hay wagons and moved back to the Bremner quonset for winter storage. We ended up with over 900 small square barley straw bales which we sell locally. Later in October, a crew of members organized the winter storage of our equipment at Bremner along machinery row and inside the quonset as well.
Multi-Purpose Ag Facility News - The county's proposed Multi-Purpose Ag Facility at the Bremner farmsite has been put on the back burner by council. “A volatile construction market impacted by increased material pricing, current manufacturing supply chain, transportation disruptions and higher than forecasted global demand for construction materials resulted in all construction bids exceeding the maximum tender sum,” the county said in a release. “As the market is expected to remain in flux for the balance of this year, administration has recommended a temporary pause on construction until the market can be re-assessed in the spring of 2022.”
The county said it continues its operational, services and event strategy and still plans on bringing The Pointe’s vision to life. Administration is now expected to bring back a report to council by the end of the second quarter of 2022 with recommendations on how to proceed with the initiative. Construction was expected to start by this fall after council had earlier approved $71.2-million in funding for the Multi-Purpose Agricultural Facility. It will be interesting to see what happens with all of this considering a new council is now in place following the county's 2021 election in October.
New Equipment Purchases - In our last newsletter in June, members were kept up to date on some of our new purchases which included a Versatile 400 swather with a hay tedder attachment which we used at Bremner for this year's Bremner hay crop. Also mentioned then was our mid-sized skid steer which is still being worked on. At the same time we were able to complete a deal on a 48-foot sea can as well as a brand new steel quonset building which is currently stored in the new sea can at Leo Bilodeau's farm.
In September, we purchased a John Deere 800 swather which was put to good use at the East 50 for our barley harvest, and then we also came across some vintage equipment which we bought. First a McCormick vintage threshing machine and then a John Deere binder, both of which are in very good usable condition. Hopefully, all of these will be put to good use as we move into next year and beyond.
In mid-October, we had a 1945 Massey Harris 102 Junior donated to our club by Phil Johnston. Phil was an original member of our club going back to 2005 and was on our executive for a few years before he moved south to the Tofield area. Thanks for that Phil, we'll put that to use next year along with the JD seeder you donated several years ago.
October and November Club Events - Unfortunately, the escalating Covid situation has forced us to cancel all three of our remaining 2021 club events. That would include our planned field trip to the Bodnar Family Museum, our October 20 General Meeting at Ardrossan, and our November year-end Appreciation Supper and Silent Auction. When next spring rolls around, we are hopeful that things will be back to being close to normal and a regular slate of activities can start again. Year-end duties at Bremner and grain farming at the East-50 were completed on schedule and as planned.
Christmas Donations 2021 - Every year since 2010, our club has gifted four $250 Christmas donations to worthy charitable organizations in and around Strathcona County. We feel obliged to share some of our financial gains with groups who contribute so much for those in need in our area. This year we are again planning to continue this worthwhile community service but no recipients have been selected yet. Information on that will be sent out once that information is available.
Some Country Humour - Willie Bob Smith farmed a small holding in Strathcona County. The County's Labour and Employment Department claimed he was not paying proper wages to his workers so they sent an agent out to interview him. "I need a list of your employees and for you to tell me how much you pay them," demanded the agent. "Well," replied Willie Bob, "There’s my ranch hand who’s been with me for 3 years. I pay him $600 a week plus free room and board. The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $500 a week plus free room and board. Then there’s a fellow who works about 18 hours every day and does about 90 percent of all the work around here. He makes about $10 every week, pays his own room and board, and buys himself a six-pack when he can afford it.” The agent said excitedly, "That’s the guy I want to speak with." Willie Bob replied, "Yer talkin' to him mister."
So that's the tractor club news for now. Stand by for regular emails with shorter news updates as we move forward. Our first general meeting of 2022 will be held at the Ardrossan Memorial Hall on the third Wednesday of March next year. Take care as we move through the winter months and remember…"You should never tell secrets on a farm because the potatoes have eyes and the corn has ears". In the meantime, stay safe and HAPPY TRACTORING !!!