28 February 2014
After giving a lunchtime talk in Harrisonburg, I head south to Tazewell. As I have time off until tomorrow lunchtime the first, and most pressing action, is to get off the I81. An Interstate highway that roars a stinking, noisy river of trucks north and south, through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trucks are big, and in a bigger hurry. They jostle for position, nudging me to drive faster – I wish I could – but THE CAR is still in slowpoke mode. As soon as I get back to Richmond I need to have this seen to.
I escape onto the 606, making my way through winter brown fields to McCormick’s farm. A place where a grand shift in thinking started the industrialization of the farming industry. The McCormick family is credited with designing the first successful mechanical reaper, which led to the creation of the combine harvester. It was hailed as one of the greatest inventions of the time.
The old wood and adobe buildings attest to an age when people lived at a slower pace, when one able bodied man could reap one quarter of an acre of wheat per day. The continued improvement of agriculture machinery let one farmer and two horses harvest 20 acres a day, allowing them to cultivate larger fields and increase their prosperity and family size. It also freed up two in every three men for military duty, and heralded the start of the industrial age…I wonder it that was really such a good thing.
Meanwhile back in South Africa I discovered that Dolphins have nasty teeth under that delightful smile.