Sat. June 28, 2014
Having made our way through the Bird and Riverwood Estates we followed the trail that led up the hillside and left the main trail near the river to be hiked on our return trip. The upper trail leads past an old red brick foundation from a house that used to stand on the crest of the hill. John and Theodosia Zaichuck had purchased the northern lot from Ida Parker in the 1940’s and this would have been one of their buildings. As you near the crest of the hill you pass a small pond on the side of the hill. When you cross the open field on the trail you will be following the track of an old horse raceway.
Just around the first curve you come to the remains of an old baling machine. Around 1940 the first machines were made that tied up a bale of hay. The machine has a set of rakes that collect the dried hay and packed it into a cube. The cube is tied with two strings and cut into lengths called bales. Each bale could weigh 70 – 100 lbs. These were manually stacked into mountains in barns for use by horses, cows and sheep during winter.
We found a Massey Ferguson Logo and the number 9 on one side of the baler. Massey Ferguson is an international company today, but it had it’s origin just east of Toronto in Newcastle. In 1847 Daniel Massey opened a simple shop to make farm equipment. Hart Massey took over his father Daniel’s business in 1855. He moved it from Newcastle to Toronto where he competed with Alanson Harris. He merged with Harris in 1891 creating Massey Harris. Hart wanted to give back to the city and he did so by creating Hart House for U of T students. He also purchased a lot at Shuter and Victoria streets to create an auditorium for the citizens of Toronto. Massey Hall opened on June 14, 1894.
Another merger, this in 1953 with Harry Ferguson of England, created what would become Massey Ferguson in 1958.
The MF 9 bailer was sold in 1970 and shared an owner’s manual with the MF 12. In the manual’s cover picture below the hay is being thrown onto a wagon. The wagon in the cover photo for the previous hike on Riverwood Estate may have been an earlier version of a hay wagon.
The old orchard that runs down the middle of the field attracts deer in the fall who come to enjoy the fruit. There are several pieces of farm equipment scattered around the Zaichuk property. A few in the field and many more in the woods on the south end of the field. The Tiller featured in the cover photo is near the old orchard. At the west end of the orchard a tangle of grape vines conceals a manure spreader. Animal manure was saved up to be spread on the fields every year to replace the nutrients in the soil and improve crops. The auger took the manure and threw it over quite a wide distance. I remember driving along country roads as a child and seeing these machines at work. You didn’t pass a field when the farmer was fertilizing it with the car windows rolled down.
Walk back across the field toward the large willow at the south end. Behind the willow you will find the basement from an older building This was a small barn or a perhaps a house.
The trees to the east of this foundation contain a large field of garbage. There are a lot of broken soda bottles here from the 40’s to the 60’s. A decade ago over 50 intact specimens were rescued from a possible similar fate. These include a near perfect 1959 Hires Root Beer, a 1954 Wishing Well and a 1959 Canada Dry. There is also a large amount of household garbage, including the kitchen sink. This 1960’s gas can looked like it has seen better days.
The remains of a transplanter lay in the edge of the woods. The water tank is mostly rusted away but the frame is still intact. Seedlings were fed into the machine from trays in front of the operators. A couple of decades ago these various pieces of equipment were still mostly intact and could have easily been used for an interpretive display of mid-century farming methods.
The picture below shows an early transplanter.
There are many other things to be seen in the south woods, including parts of an old truck and an old refrigerator. This area is best explored in late April to mid May before the leaves are out if you are interested in finding some of the many artifacts that are strewn about.
Milkweed grows in patches throughout the Zaichuk property and also on the Bird property. This weed has been in decline due to the use of herbicides, to which it is particularly sensitive. Monarch Butterfly larva live on milkweeds and the decline in the plant has been matched with one in the butterfly.
There is a paved pathway that follows the river and will lead back to the parking lot.
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