Horse ploughing and antique tractor ploughing event set for Powassan May long weekend
On the May long weekend Powassan and area residents will have a chance to see how farmers traditionally ploughed their fields before advanced farming equipment made their task much easier.
On Saturday, May 20th farmers in the area will converge on land next to J and J Equipment Repair at 84 Chiswick Line in Powassan and hitch their ploughs to horses and plough away.
The farmers will also give a ploughing demonstration using antique tractors from the 1950s.
The event is a collaboration between the farmers and Joe Piekarski who co-owns J and J Equipment Repair with his son Joe Piekarski Junior. The event is being billed as Demo Days because farmers can also try out the various farm-related equipment Piekarski sells at the site.
Piekarski says the ploughing demonstration and him letting farmers try out his equipment is nothing new because this has been going on for years. But what is new is Piekarski and the farmers combining the demonstrations to form a single larger event.
Piekarski says if the dual event attracts a large enough crowd, chances are Demo Days will become a permanent fixture in the community.
Powassan farmer Steve Burns talked to Piekarski about combining both events.
Burns told the Nugget he has secured the presence of at least two more farmers, Jody Logan of Chisholm Township and Trevor Hammond of Burk's Falls, to demonstrate how horses helped farmers plough fields. Burns says each plough will be pulled by a team of two horses.
Burns' brother John and Clarence Nadrofsky also of Powassan will jump on their 1950s antique tractors and plough another section of the field.
And while the crowd watches to see how fields were once ploughed, others will be testing Piekarski's equipment right next door. The business covers a large clientele basis in Northeastern Ontario servicing and selling farm related equipment east of Mattawa, as far west as Manitoulin Island and south just beyond Huntsville.
Piekarski and his son are both licensed heavy equipment mechanics. Until 2004 they both worked for another business in North Bay.
“But we decided to leave and went into business for ourselves,” Piekarski said. “We started with a service truck and began doing mobile repairs on heavy equipment.”
Over the years father and son have repaired heavy equipment, forklifts, construction and logging trucks in addition to farm-related vehicles.
Now in its 20th year of operation, the business has two service trucks plus two float trucks that haul customers' vehicles in need of repair to the shop or to deliver new equipment to someone's farm or business.
The Piekarskis still have and use the white service truck that started things for them in 2004.
The Piekarskis kind of fell into the sales end of their operation. Piekarski said within a couple of years of opening their shop “customers asked us if we could get things like small attachments or even used tractors' '.
“And all of a sudden the business grew from there,” Piekarski said.
He adds the timing was perfect because there were other similar area operations around the same time that were getting out of the business.
“So we had other tractor dealers asking us if we would take over the sales,” Piekarski said. “We were fortunate”.
Today J and J Equipment Repair has three components. They are repairs, sales and supplying parts for people who still like to do their own repairs. Piekarski said the business was deemed an essential service during COVID and remained open because farmers needed to keep producing food and someone had to be around to fix their equipment when it broke down so food supply chains weren't interrupted.
Also during COVID, Piekarski welcomed his daughter Jennifer St. George to the family business after she was laid off from the Redpath mining company in North Bay. St. George oversees the day to day administration of the business.
The company brands the Piekarskis carry are McCormack, Pottinger and TYM which represent the larger vehicles and DR Power Equipment where the public can buy tools like brushcutters and trimmers.
Demo Days runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 20th.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget