About three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go on an enjoyable ride. No, it wasn't a roller coaster at Cedar Point. I don't like those things.
This ride was on a modern tractor pulling a new state-of-the-art 24-row corn planter.
I suppose some folks would consider that a dull, uninteresting ride, but to me, it was fascinating to see the latest agricultural technology in operation. It made me think of all the changes that have taken place over the years.
My friend who bought this planter called one Saturday afternoon and asked me if I wanted to go for the ride and see this planter operate. It covers 24 rows on each trip across the field and can plant a lot of corn in a day. It has a GPS system and many automatic features. It is also a "no-till" planter, which means he can go into a field and plant with very little tillage of that field.
During the following week, I had an occasion to visit Amish friends over in Mesopotamia. While there, I noticed an older, two-row planter used on that farm. These two-row planters are still used on some smaller non-Amish farms and illustrate the changes that have taken place over the years.
To go even further back, I took another look at the old-fashioned "corn stabber" hanging in my basement. This would have been one of the earlier partly mechanized planters used to save labor and speed up planting 100 years ago or more.
Some of you may know what a corn stabber is or used one a long time ago. When I had a larger garden years ago, I used this one because it was easier than digging a hole and dropping in three or four seeds and covering them.
My corn stabber is essentially a 3-foot-long board with a handle at the top. On the bottom was a flexible, sharp steel point attached to a spring loaded arm that made contact with the ground. On the side was a metal box with a simple seed plate that would allow the correct number of seeds to drop when the arm was made to touch the ground.
To plant, one would "stab" the metal point into the ground and push the handle to the side to turn the seed plate to drop the correct number of seeds into the hole made by the point. Simple and easy. It was an improvement when it was invented, but a long ways from the 24-row planter that I rode.
So many changes have been made in the last 50 to 75 years ago that I find it hard to keep up with them. When I think about growing up in North Bloomfield and all the changes that have taken place in that village, it is remarkable. Like many villages, at one time there was a post office, two churches, hotel, livery stable, bank, hardware store, two general stores, taverns and more.
Now there is just one grocery store, the post office, still two churches, a tavern and a used car lot. Even the bank has closed, an institution that had been an important part of the community for a long time.
When I was growing up, a trip to Warren was quite an adventure. Going down Route 45 into Bristolville, one would find a cement road lined with maple trees on both sides. Cement roads were not always the smoothest, with bumps at each joint, but much better than gravel or dirt.
When the road was widened and improved, the trees had to give way to a safer, better road. It was sad to see them go but necessary.
So maybe a ride on a new 24-row corn planter might not be exciting to you, but it does reflect the changes and improvements that have been made in so many ways in our society. Or maybe you would like to borrow my corn stabber to plant your crop?
Parker is retired from Ohio State University and is an independent writer for the Tribune.