Howell Farm annual plowing match returns for a 38th year

Photo courtesy of Mike Chipowsky
Horse move along section of ground at the Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville.

Howell Living History Farm held its 38th annual plowing match on Sept. 4.

The annual plowing match marks the beginning of a crop production cycle. The competition began in 1984 and is designed to test the farmers and their horses.

Each farmer and their horse team plow in a section of land on the farm, where they are judged in areas that include depth, coverage and evenness, according to a prepared statement. The competition is a way to preserve a method of plowing from the 20th century and work up the soil on the farm where wheat will be planted.

The Howell Living History Farm is operated by the Mercer County Park Commission and receives support from Mercer County.

The plowing match had categories that included, fine plowing, old timer plowing and novice plowing.

Fine plowing is where participants use one, two or three animals that include horses, mules or ponies to plow any width, according to the statement. The plowing is judged on the condition of the team, the evenness, straightness and depth of the furrow, penetration, condition of equipment, evenness of the ends and the teamster’s control of their chosen animal.

Farmers who know how to use a team and walking plow, participate in the old timer plowing competition, according to the statement. The participants use a Howell Farm hitch, which connects horses to the plow, and are judged on one round of plowing.

Novice plowing involves any individual from the crowd who sign up to try plowing. The individuals handle the plow only and not the horses. They are judged on a full round.