Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stepping back

If you drive east out of town on 2nd Ave in Shellbrook you will end up on a rural road that eventually will take you through a wormhole and back about 40 years in time. 

I consider Shellbrook my hometown despite the fact that I  spent close to twice as much of my life so far in Nipawin.  I grew up in Shellbrook and it still seems like home when we go back there.  We’ve been “home” for a few days now, parked in the time warp 4 miles east of town and a mile south.  That’s where my best friend farms, on the land that his grandfather homesteaded after the 1st World War. 

The farm is a little more connected to the 2oth century now than it was when Ken’s mother was alive but I still wouldn’t suggest that it has moved into the 21st century.  When Margaret was alive she hand milked several cows every day and picked eggs from a large hen house.  Ken’s father has continued the egg route but he refuses to pull tits so the milk cows are gone. 

Yesterday there was hay to be made and more tractors available than they had operators for so I offered my services.  I ended up driving an International “M”.  You won’t need to look too hard at the photos to determine that the M wasn’t built recently.  If you look closely though you will see why it is a fascinating piece of machinery – it has spark plugs and a distributor on one side of the engine and on the other side an injection pump and filters.  This model of engine starts on gas and runs on diesel.  And like most of the machinery around the yard, despite being over 60 years old, it is in perfect running order. 

Ken’s father was a heavy duty mechanic for a local road construction company prior to moving back to the farm in the late 1960’s.  In later life I ran into a farmer at Armley who had worked with Reg and he described Ken’s father as “the best damn mechanic Potts every had.”  Ken says that his father doesn’t have the patience to pull wrenches anymore but the ability must be genetic because Ken certainly is capable of fixing anything that moves.  The vintage machinery on the farm provides lots of opportunity for him to practice his craft.  Right now there’s a WD9 International (circa 1950) that is in late stages of reassembly in one shop and a riding tractor with a blown up Tecumseh engine torn completely apart in another shop.  Apparently the lawnmower blew up and Ken’s 10 year old son had it apart before Ken got around to looking at it.  So perhaps Grandpa’s mechanical genes have already entered another generation.

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