Farm days of the past

Kristen Wallace and Hank Aranda assist Wallace's son, Reiver, 6, in steering a real life tractor through a course Saturday at the annual Day on the Farm at the Agricultural History Project in Watsonville. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE — A taste of yesteryear’s farm life was on stage Saturday at the Agricultural History Project in the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.

John Kegebein, CEO of the AHP, said more than 340 people visited Day on the Farm during the sunny five-hour event.

The family-centered occasion included antique farm equipment, draft horses, crafts, hands on exercises, a petting zoo, a rocket launch, cow-milking other farm-related events.

“This is our first time to come to this event,” said Eron Swedberg of Aptos who came with his 3-year-old boy. “He loves the tractors and wants to pet all the animals. Of course, we all loved the hay-baling machine — that was really different. We met my mom here and other relatives. We packed our own picnic and we’re going to enjoy it out here on the lawn.”

Laura Rider was on hand volunteering her time to show various age groups how to use a loom to make a rag rug out of T-shirt fabric. She used a loom made by the Newcomb Loom Co. in Davenport, Iowa from the 1940s. She said the wood and metal contraption “still works perfectly.”

“Kids do get interested,” she said. “They want to see the moving parts.”

Beside her, volunteer Kris Nardello showed visitors how to use a pedal-powered spinning wheel to spin natural wool onto a bobbin that collected the yarn. In the same building Dennis Osmer helped kids crawl up onto a tractor simulator. The real tractor is fitted with a large flat screen monitor that gives the driver the view a farmer would see while mowing down a crop in a field.

“It’s a pretty sophisticated machine,” Osmer said. “You really get the feel that you’re out there driving this thing across a field. Some kids are really good at it. The machine even tells you the economic impact of how well you did during your particular ride.”

Kristen Wallace came to the event with her children. She joined her son, Reiver, 6, on a “Kid’s Tractor,” a specially adapted tractor that allows kids, with a docent and an adult accompaniment, to drive the tractor through a slalom course with their hands on the steering wheel.

Hayrides to the fairground’s model railroad exhibit and to the Monterey Bay Society’s rose garden and rides in a covered wagon pulled by three Clydesdale horses added to the excitement at the free event.

Special this year was the 4H Club’s annual fair, staged to promote the 4H with demonstrations and other activities.


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