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Threshing Days to feature M-H tractors

Agricultural history will come alive this weekend as spectators enjoy watching antiquity in action during the 2008 Atwater Threshing Days.

This year's farming festival will feature Massey-Harris tractors of yesteryear and Atwater's own Steve Miller will head up the show with his impressive personal collection of ponies.

And no, we're not talking about the four-legged furry variety.

Miller is the proud owner of "the world's largest complete collection of antique Massey-Harris pony tractors" with an incalculable amount of memorabilia and extra equipment stored in and around his property on Pleasant Avenue in Atwater.

Named for their stature, ponies were the smallest tractors Massey-Harris built for the specific purposes of working in limited spaces, as in vineyards and on vegetable farms.

The North American Massey-Harris pony tractor was built between 1947 and 1954, Miller said, with a four-cylinder engine equal to 10 horsepower on the drawbar. At the time, a pony sold for about $900 and moved an underwhelming six miles per hour on average.

Miller has been enthusiastically collecting his pony tractors since 1992.

His wife, Sandy, supports his searches but derives significantly less excitement out of the whole thing than does her husband.

"Steve calls them treasures; I call 'em junk," Sandy said with an impish smile last week as her husband opened their garage door to eagerly unveil his latest conquests. "But I'm getting better (at being supportive)."

Miller said half the fun is the challenge of the hunt, and the other half is in the camaraderie of collection.

"The collectors are awesome," he said. "The tractors mean zero to us, it's the people you meet along the way that make it all worth the while."

Atwater's Threshing Days take place the first weekend after Labor Day each year. For more information, call Carol at 320-974-8588 or Threshing treasurer Adam Bosch at 320-222-9681.