Three Plows, Two Plowboys and a Phantom

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Lori Steedsman plows driving her Haflinger horses Nevada and Chance. Photo by Kim Utke.

-By Orv Alveshere-

ILLUSION, CONFUSION, COLLUSION OR SOLUTION?
A story’s going ’round, about guys who’ve been ’round;
A grain stubble field, many times, plowing the ground.
Plowing with draft horses, in the 1920’s.
They had enough plows and horses, they had plenty.
They asked who, or whom, would ride the number three plow?
They discussed an absurd plan, tried it anyhow.
Their duty was to plow the fields, and to plant ’em.
Their ‘co-worker’ would become known, as the ‘Phantom.’

REINVENTING THE (PLOW) WHEEL /GHOST RIDER
Eight horses were hitched, four in front and four in back; 
To these various details…one must keep track.
The confusion begins with this three-bottom plow.
Driver one started the teams, dropped the plow and somehow
Would need to drive plow number three for spring plowing.
First, he’d need to turn them at the end and allowing
Time to walk across to plow three so, we’ll grant’em
The illusion, that one driver, was the ‘Phantom.’ 

REMOTE CONTROL, THE RUNAROUND KEPT THEM WARM
My uncle was driver two. He started plow two, dropped the plow
Five horses pulling, and then on cue,
He tied the reins to the lever and let them go. 
They had blinders on bridles and they wouldn’t know
That driver #2 walked back to start team three.
Technic’lly the ‘driver’ on plow 2, was an ‘absentee.’
They plowed the farmer’s fields, so they could also plant ’em
With a driverless team, unless you count the “Phantom.’ 

NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
Six strong horses pulling the last two-bottom plow.
They were determined to finish plowing, somehow.
My uncle needed to hustle to plow two
As the turn at the end of the field was in view.
He tied the lines to the lever while the driver
On plow one, was my dad, his ‘co-conniver,’
Who was walking over to plow three.
Let’s grant ’em; that the confusion was about the ‘Phantom’. 

PLOWS (CARTS) HITCHED BEFORE HORSES/SUCCESS STORY
Dad took over plow three, and raised the plow;
Then, turned the team around, and dropped the plow, by now;
They’re plowing to the end, which by coincidence,
Was also the beginning. And to their defense;
They stopped to rest all of the teams, on ev’ry round;
But, literally, running this plan ‘into the ground’.
As collusion stories go, we usu’lly slant ’em; 
To bring you this unusual tale of the ‘Phantom.’

PLOWING HALF AGAIN AS MUCH/WITHOUT A HITCH
We pay close attention to this shuffle-confusion;
A now-you-see-’em, now-you-don’t, driving illusion.
The horses wouldn’t know or care who’s watching their plow.
After 19 hitches it came off without a hitch, somehow.
Some days this ‘merry-go-round’ was hot and dusty;
Other days were cold, rainy, wet, raw and gusty.
That plowing ‘stock exchange’ was clever and we’ll grant ’em
They plowed at time and a half with the “Phantom.’

STOCK EXCHANGE/CATCHER IN THE WRY?
If we’d actually been watching them, round by round,
We (& OSHA) would have declared the plan unsound! 
Those 19 muscle-bound draft horses, we’d see;
(I’d surmise) they would not be, as confused as me!
Plowed dawn-to-dusk with sandwiches made by mother;
They watched the visual, exchange cues, from their brother.
A catcher in the wry? This success story, we’ll hand ’em;
NINETEEN HORSES, THREE PLOWS, TWO GUYS AND THE ‘PHANTOM.’ 

Orv’s Cowboy Poetry tells of the days of life on the ranch in Midwest America when horses were used for transportation, field work, Sunday-go-to-meetings, and more. Read cowboy poetry from our beloved Orv Alveshere who recalls the days and memories from his past growing up farming on the prairies of North Dakota. Revel in the glory days of the true cowboy. Take steps back into the history of rural farm life, when horses were the centerpiece of the ranch and instrumental in the survival of the families that built America.

More of Orv’s Cowboy Poetry may be found at:  http://theveonline.com/category/orvs-cowboy-poetry/