The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 5, 2012

Poppin' Johnnies show how farming used to be done

HILLSBORO — You may be able to tell what farmers think about their job by looking at how they spend their time off.

“This is our hobby,” said David Cobbler of Ottumwa, pointing out the antique farm equipment that he and members of the Poppin’ Johnnies of Southeast Iowa club were operating Saturday.

Cobbler was on the farm purchased by his grandfather in 1917. Though lots of the Cobbler farm operation had been modernized, the original barn was here. And Cobbler had purposely left about 60 acres of corn standing, untouched, after harvest.

“This is an official harvest day with restored [farm] equipment,” he said.

Several 1940s and 1950s tractors bulled their way through the rows of brown cornstalks, spitting husked corn into the wagons they pulled.

“We do it the old way for our hobby,” he said.

In the 40s and 50s, he said, farmers would feel pretty good to get 200 bushels taken care of in an hour. 

“And it was family oriented,” he said.

These days, combines can handle 2,000 bushels an hour.

Another Cobbler, Chris, was helping a driver learn how to operate an old piece of machinery. Someone had left a part off, meaning the antique John Deere was going to need some work. As he walked across the field, Chris pointed out a man operating a steam engine near the barn.

“He loves that.  He’ll run that [engine] all day,” Chris said.

He added that though the steam engine was a 2/5 scale model, it was functional enough that with some coal and water to run it, the machine was actually operating the grain pumping “auger” for the day’s farm operation.

Around the barn were antiques not being used just then — but still functional. There was a potato digger, a cement mixer and a couple of 100-year-old hay bailers, where the wheels, big steel cogs and gears were all visible. Many of the members, David said, finish up at their day jobs during the year, then, for relaxation, work on their older equipment.

“We’re a little bit different. We restore it, but then we use it, too,” said the man, the seventh David in his family to be a farmer. “My brother and I bailed plenty of hay with that small one.”

The Poppin’ Johnnies were celebrating their seventh year doing an actual harvesting. Last year, more than 500 visitors stopped to see how it “used to be” done. The event used to be held at a park. The farm is located right after motorists leave the highway (Exit 40) to come into the north side of Ottumwa on Highway 149. Club members said they want to share their hard work with the public.

“I figured we would be more visible here,” added David.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0801 OTT Five Things logo -L T Five things to do in southeast Iowa OTTUMWA — Celebrate summer in a variety of ways and in several communities this weekend. Many towns are holding festivals, shows and events all centered around the summer theme, so head out while it's warm. 1. "Summer Shorts" is the Davis County Play

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0731 OTT Aviation plane -T -M Flying free OTTUMWA — The financial obstacle may have been removed if your career goal starts with learning to fly. "We have it set up for three terms, about nine months," said pilot and chief flight instructor Darren Graham at Indian Hills Community College. "

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supervisors discuss pipeline potential KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisors received preliminary, general information on a new pipeline being proposed to carry oil from North Dakota through Iowa, including Van Buren County, then crossing into Illinois. The proposed Bakken Pipeline wou

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairfield stabbing suspects' trials separated FAIRFIELD — The three people accused of dragging a man into a Fairfield apartment before robbing and stabbing him have had a judge grant their requests to separate their trials. Dawn Dunn, Dustin Roll and Brett Hedblade are each charged with willful

    July 30, 2014

  • Local business donates grain rescue tube KEOSAUQUA — Stockport Elevator, owned by Roquette America, donated a grain rescue tube to Birmingham and Stockport Fire Departments. A training session was conducted Monday, led by Dale Ekdahl, a representative of Outstate Data, LLC, the device’s man

    July 30, 2014

  • Where do my taxes go? OTTUMWA — Wapello County Board certified its tax levy. But what does that mean? Based on budgets submitted by various levying authors, the Wapello County Auditor prepares and certifies the levy rates for the county. Budgets for each levy are based on

    July 30, 2014

  • OCSD releases elementary supplies list

    OTTUMWA — For years, parents of the students in Ottumwa's elementary schools have had to check to make sure the school supplies list they grabbed was the right one for their school. No more.

    July 30, 2014

  • Reducing runoff at the local level AGENCY — Pollution isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you look out at a field of Iowa corn or soybeans, but there’s growing concern about what manages to get out of the fields and into the water. The same nutrients that benefit the crops c

    July 30, 2014

  • Supervisors wrestle with staffing woes KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisor Chairman Bob Waugh says he wants county supervisors to help alleviate staffing problems within the county treasurer’s office. In May, supervisors opted not to replace a vacancy within the treasurer’s office. Va

    July 30, 2014

  • 0730 OTT Better Buildings -T -M Wildwood could be your home OTTUMWA — There was always one child per class who just adored school. If they went to Wildwood, they may soon be able to move in permanently. The Ottumwa board of education met Monday, where staff told them where the district stood as far as "facili

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook