My old friend is being reborn


Mr. Massey before

There’s a mountain of work to do at Cathedral Drive Farm in Hope Ness these days: weed between the rows, hill the potatoes, spread straw mulch everywhere possible to hold the moisture in the soil and keep the clay-loam soil from baking to hard-pan in the sun, mow the hay, take the wild barn cat his morning dish of milk, prep the downstairs bedroom for painting . . . on and on it goes.

But I’ve got it down pat now: I take a few minutes in the morning after the indispensable two cups of coffee to write the daily to-do list; and then I proceed to ignore it as I just “keep on keeping on” with one thing at a time, or two or three, until the sun begins to set. And then I think it’s about time to see what’s going on in the world and the blogosphere.

But first, this day I went over to “The Shop” to see how Brent was getting on with the restoration of Mr. Massey, my world-famous, and one-of-a-kind, Massey-Harris 22 tractor.

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The inspirational Mr. Massey

What a guy, that Mr. Massey.


Mr. Massey and I have a moment

He puts me to shame. While I’ve been off doing other things, including stuff like this, and generally spending way too much time trying to figure out where to start with a to-do list that’s always too long – and then getting all down and discouraged about it – he’s been patiently waiting for me to give him some attention. Continue reading

The submersible Mr. Massey, truly one of a kind

I only fairly recently discovered Massey Harris Ferguson Legacy Quarterly, after its editor, Gary Heffner contacted me about a column I wrote for the Owen Sound Sun Times about my “Mr. Massey.” A local reader of his magazine and my columns had brought it to his attention.

Owen Sound is a small city of 22,000 people on the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay in the small-town, rural area of Grey and Bruce counties in southwestern Ontario. Yes, Canada, the birthplace of Massey-Harris – Ferguson. But then everybody reading Legacy Quarterly more than likely knows that, right?


Three good friends, Me, Mr. Massey, and Aussie

But apparently not a lot of Canadians know it, from what Gary tells me. A group of retired engineers who helped design the tractors and other farm equipment that made Massey-Harris and Massey-Ferguson the most popular brand of farm machinery in the world still meet annually over dinner up here to socialize and talk shop. But otherwise what Gary said doesn’t surprise me. Continue reading

I still love you Mr. Massey

Dear Mr. Massey,

I’m feeling very apologetic. I mean, after all, this is “a fine kettle of fish” I’ve gotten us in isn’t it, as Mr. Hardy would say to Mr. Laurel if memory serves me right.

(Folks of a certain generation would know, while others, I’ve come to realize more and more in recent years, wouldn’t have a clue. Some have never even heard of Bob Dylan, if you can believe.)

Anyway, sad as that is, sadder still is the fate I’ve apparently left you to in your dotage. There you sit still, outside a tumble-down garage full of way too much stuff of dubious value. Oh, there are some hidden treasures in there no doubt, a few homestead artifacts we were anxious to keep under cover among the other detritus of lives past and present that needs to be sorted out and kept,  or not. But there never seemed to be time as winter approached and other things took precedence. Continue reading

The special bond between man and tractor

As anyone with the most fundamental experience with wood stoves and rural living will know, if you’re just starting to cut your winter’s supply of wood in early to mid-October, you’ve got a big problem.

I imagine that’s just the sort of thing that spelled potential disaster for many a neophyte pioneer family many years ago. Nowadays there are all sorts of options and/or social safety nets for people who’ve foolishly, or for one reason or another, otherwise failed to get their winter fuel supply set aside well ahead of the onset of winter winds. But back in pioneer days, unless the unseasoned pioneer newcomers were fortunate enough to have a few more seasoned newcomers nearby and ready, willing and able to help, the family risked freezing to death.

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Tractor provides sage advice about enjoying life as a senior

A funny thing happened on the way back to the bush yesterday. Mr. Massey-Harris, the only submersible “22” model tractor still in good running order that I know of, suddenly stopped in his tracks and insisted he wasn’t going to go any further if I didn’t acknowledge that I was just about to become an elder and ceased being in negative denial about it.

Now, you may find it more than a little odd that I talk to my tractor. Some might say they’re not surprised; after all, that McNichol fella is a strange duck at the best of times.  Continue reading