Horses and windmills down on the farm

April 24, 1993|By Wayne Hardin | Wayne Hardin,Staff Writer

Federalsburg -- This day, the fields and pastures of Trinity Acres lie quiet in the wind, all spring-grass green and dandelion vTC yellow, sweeping up from the road past Ed Banning's house and red and white barn to the old Seaford and Cambridge Railroad track.

Ed Banning and Jim Parkinson hope things will be different today on Mr. Banning's 61-acre farm off Maryland Route 307 near here. It's the site for the Eastern Shore Plow Day and Windmiller's Trade Fair, a daylong horse and windmill event that started informally last spring and "grew into a big proposition," Mr. Parkinson says.

Mr. Banning says he is overall chairman and "in charge of the windmill part" and Mr. Parkinson, a computer technician and truck driver turned horse trainer, is "in charge of the horse part."

Both segments of the day hark back to earlier times, when horses did the farm work tractors do today and windmills, not electric pumps, drew water from the ground.

"Based on the response so far, I expect not less than 1,000 people, maybe more if we get a sunny day," says Mr. Banning.

"Plow day" includes plowing contests by working horses like Clydesdales, Belgians and Percherons and draft ponies (mules, too, if any show up) in a five-acre field. Winners get trophies for plowing the straightest row or deepest furrow or being the best teamster.

"There should be somewhere between 20 and 40 teams," Mr. Banning predicts.

Mr. Parkinson says "three or four" pre-entrants, including himself, actually work horses some on small farms. But, though, are hobbyists. "We use my horses on about 60 acres we rent for hay," he says. "We cut and rake with horses. It makes for a better hay. Horses don't knock all the leaves off or mash the hay like heavy equipment does."

Free horse demonstrations of hitching, harnessing, grooming, horseshoeing, logging and training fill the schedule, along with broom and basket making.

Three windmills, one 58 feet tall, have been set up next to a pond for demonstrations.

Although the event is free, some cash will be required for food, crafts and pony and wagon rides. Tack, harness and windmills, including parts, will also be on sale.

"The horses will be the biggest draw," says Mr. Banning, who has keen interests in both fields. He owns four Clydesdales and a company that sells windmills. "There aren't that many windmillers around but more people are getting into it. We've had calls from Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio."

The event is sponsored by the Delmarva Driving Club, an organization "serving the horse and buggy enthusiasts on the Delmarva Peninsula." Mr. Parkinson is president, Mr. Banning is a member.

"It's non-profit from the word go," Mr. Banning says. "If we make any [money], it goes to the club. But we'd be happy if we broke even."

He had asked the club if it would sponsor the event if he coulfind a place to hold it; that became Trinity Acres, where the idea was born.

"Last spring, five people, including Jim, who had horses, came over and we did some plowing and pulling," he says. "About 15 to 20 spectators . . . showed up, too.

"Windmills were an afterthought," Mr. Banning says. "Last June, my family and the family of the Amish farmer who does my installation went to a national windmiller's fair in Lamar, Colo. We didn't think one here would draw a crowd on its own so we added it to Plow Day. This is a test of interest."

At mid-week, Mr. Banning drives his pickup truck 30 miles to Mr. Parkinson's 10.28-acre spread in lower Sussex County, Del. Mr. Parkinson trains horses to harness, including all of Mr. Banning's, and repairs and restores carriages.

Mr. Banning, 55, an Eastern Shore native, once ran Trinity Transport, a family trucking business he started in Federalsburg and re-located to Bridgeville, Del. His son, Jeff, now is president and another son, Darrel, works there.

"I've been fortunate my family took up the business and let me get off into my other things," he says.

The "other things" include the windmill company and now a carriage business he and his wife Deana run, supplying "horse-drawn vehicles for all occasions." Mr. Parkinson has a similar business in Delaware.

In bib overalls, checked flannel shirt and straw hat, Mr. Parkinson, 45, waits by his big red barn at the end of a clay-surfaced driveway which has a "whoa" sign at the top.

The son of a court magistrate, he grew up in Ellicott City. He lived in North Baltimore and near Westminster and came to the Eastern Shore in 1979 after a two-year recovery from a broken back suffered in an accident as a volunteer firefighter.

His ease with horses is easily demonstrated when he takes his two red Belgians, weighing a ton each, out for a training session in the black gumbo, hitching them to an Oliver 9 bull-nose riding plow.

Blaze-faced Clementine, at 6 a year older than Gentle Ben, takes the furrow and they plow several rounds. Mr. Parkinson then hooks the team to a black vis-a-vis carriage and takes them on a three-mile road jaunt.

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