This is the story of a long-distance love affair, involving not one, not two, but three men infatuated with one “old girl.” Longtime readers of FarmLife magazine may recall an article from the fall 2008 issue about two British brothers, Steven and Kevin Clarke, who became fascinated with the American wheat harvest after watching a 1976 BBC documentary on the topic. The 50-minute special featured a certain combine—the Massey Ferguson® 760, which, for the boys, became a focal point, an embodiment of much of the “wonder and curiosity” the documentary had instilled in them.
Raised on a farm, the Clarkes themselves grew up to farm and custom harvest with their own fleet of Massey Ferguson combines in North Norfolk, England, about a three-hour drive northeast of London. One of their favorite things to do with their time off is visit their friend Delbert Joyner near Enid, Okla., and help with his wheat harvest.
For six years now, the Clarkes have kept their own MF760 at Joyner’s farm and recently added another very special model—the “old girl” referred to earlier, which just happened to be the first MF760 to come off the production line in 1971.
Found several years ago in the corner of a Kansas wheat field, it had been parked there for 33 years before the Clarkes and Marvin Helland, another American friend and custom harvester from North Dakota, convinced the owner to sell it.
Thought to quite possibly be a terminal case because of how long it sat in the elements unused, the original MF760 is now running again, thanks to its hardy construction and the efforts of its three enthusiastic new owners. Amazingly, “number one” helped complete the harvest at the Joyner farm this year, and all involved hope she’ll continue working for many years to come.
Massey Ferguson Children’s Character “Little Grey Fergie” Opens a Dedicated Attraction at Norway Theme Park
The Land of the Little Grey Fergie – Gråtassland – opened in grand style in Stavanger Norway on 4 June.
This fantastic brand-new attraction area at the Kongeparken in Stavanger is a celebration of the children’s character ‘Little Grey Fergie’ (Gråtass) which is based on an original Ferguson TE 20 tractor. Over the last 20 years the original story of his adventures, written by Morten Myklebust, has grown into two feature film hits, a TV series, several stage shows and DVDs, plus a brand-new production filmed in England which is available on the itnernet and features a full-size live-action tractor.
Ultra-modern technology has been employed at Kongeparken, one of Scandinavia’s foremost theme parks, to ensure Little Grey Fergie comes to life for visitors. “It’s like walking into the movie!” says Håkon Lund, CEO of Kongeparken.
Visitors will be welcomed by the character himself and will also be able to meet the animals on the farm at the petting zoo. An exciting tractor ride takes visitors through the captivating story of Little Grey Fergie and his friends. There are also play tractors and an old country store. Bringing things right up to date, there is the chance to experience one of the very latest Massey Ferguson tractors especially adjusted for kids.
Massey Ferguson Norwegian dealer – Eiksenteret – and the dealership chain are key partners in this exciting new project along with Fantasifabrikken A/S, the production company behind Gråtass.
With the opening of Gråtassland in Stavanger, the Ferguson TE 20 is effectively returning to its origins in Norway. More than 60 years ago not far from the town, Christian Eik started to import the tractor into the country from England. His pioneering work played an important part in laying the foundations for mechanised agriculture in Norway.
“As importers of Massey Ferguson today, we want to make sure that the history of the Little Grey Fergie is embraced, along with the Massey Ferguson brand name,” says Trond Kjempekjenn, General Sales Manager, AGCO Norway/ Eikmaskin a/s. “We have a very good partnership with Kongeparken – Fergie is in the best hands. Gråtassland will be a great place for the whole family to enjoy. Fergie has many fans both in Norway and abroad. Children and grown-ups alike can now share their fun with him as he returns ‘home’ to Stavanger.”
For a few weeks in winter or early spring, a talisman of sorts rises between the trees throughout rural Vermont. It is many places at once, yet the source, hidden amongst the hills, mountains and hollers, is not so disparate. On days when the wind is relatively still, these specter-like columns, comprised of smoke and vapor, can be seen for miles, beaconing those in the know.
They drive and trek, and as these seekers near their destinations, a faint yet familiar scent of something sweet intensifies the allure and further reinforces behavior learned from parents and grandparents, many of whom visited these same sites.
As is the tradition, these visitors are welcome. In from the cold and great outdoors, they enter the confines of cozy huts, known as sugarhouses, where the senses are greeted by steam and fragrance percolating off maple sap at the boiling point, and by the warmth of friends.
“It’s kind of like a big visiting contest,” says Hope Colburn, who along with her husband, Mark, runs Colburn’s Village View Maples, a sugaring operation near Glover, Vt. “During sugaring, people here drive around town to look for the steam and smoke from the sugaring, and they go from sugarhouse to sugarhouse … to be a part of this tradition, to witness it and visit. Of course, it dates back to … ” she pauses and laughs, “till who knows, but it’s definitely part of the heritage.”
From Vermont to Eastern Canada and across the prairie’s northern tier, sugaring—which typically lasts three to four weeks, beginning as early as January and ending as late as April—has signaled the end of winter. When daytime high temperatures reach the 40s (Fahrenheit) and nights dip back down into the 20s, a pressure is created in several varieties of maple trees, forcing the trees’ sugary sap to rise and flow out of breaks in the bark, whether natural or man-made.
Natives of these regions learned to collect the sap and boil it down long before Europeans arrived. They had their own rituals surrounding its collection and transformation into syrup, yet the addition of a warm sugarhouse has certainly added to that allure for the modern-era visitor. So have doughnuts.
“We go through a lot of them during sugaring season,” says Hope. Her mom makes the sinkers by the dozens, using maple syrup from the Colburns’ sugarhouse to feed those who visit at this critical time, when a year’s worth of nature’s and man’s work gets boiled down, literally, into sticky gold. Good friends help pass the time.
A sure-footed tractor helps the Colburns check tubing during sugaring.
Yesterday we celebrated, and helped sponsor, National Ag Day 2014, the 41st anniversary of celebrating agriculture’s role in the world. Every spring, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and others join together in recognition and appreciation of the agriculture industry.
We’d like to take this time to express our deepest gratitude to the many men and women across the globe who make agriculture possible: THANK YOU!
How did you celebrate National Ag Day yesterday? We’d love to hear from you — please share your stories in the comments below.
AGCO has proudly partnered with the Zambia 4-H project to help prepare Africa’s children to meet urgent global needs, including hunger, sustainable livelihoods and food security. By 2015, 4-H will equip 250,000 young people in Sub-Saharan Africa with the knowledge and skills needed for improved, sustainable livelihoods. Click here to learn more about the #AG4Good initiative on our Facebook page.
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