Horse Power Has Different Meaning to 90-Year-Old Farmer

November 22, 2016 02:37 PM

Harvest is more than reaping another crop. Most farmers cherish the memories with family members in and out of the field.

The memories in the field may be sweeter than what ends up in the cab, especially true for father-son duo Don and John Kennay of Ashton, Ill.

“I was born in 1926,” said Don. “I’ve probably harvested 70 years or something like that.”

“I’m at 40 years of farming,” said Don’s son, John. “I don’t know if I will make it to 74, 75, or 76 years, but I’ll try.”

Major milestones they’re making together during another harvest, as farmers and family. This fall, Don turned 90.

“I used to do a lot of bailing hay and when you get that aroma in the hay, you just get that feeling it’s time to go,” said Don.

Don had that feeling for well over 70 harvests, with a break in between to serve his country.

“That’s all we knew in those days, just shell corn by hand and come in at noon,” said Don. “Then, you shove it off and go back again by hand.”

The man who remembers farming with horses got an updated ‘horse-power’ of his own this year—a new combine.

“It has a lot of bells and whistles to it,” said Don.

“I never see him making mistakes,” said John. “He’s running all the bells, whistles and toys on it as well as anybody can.”

But Don’s fancy new equipment doesn’t make him forgetful of the past. He keeps a horse shoe on his machinery.

“When he first started picking corn, his traction was a horse with horseshoes, instead of big rubber tires,” said John.

It’s a reminder of harder times, when harvesting over an acre was a big day.

There may not be many farmers Don’s age left working in the fields, but he isn’t going to hand over the reins anytime soon.

“If I can wake up, I’m going to pick corn!” said Don.

“I’m just awful proud of him. He’s put his life into it,” said John.  

Back to news


Spell Check

Mound City, IL
11/25/2016 10:09 AM

  Well done Don! Don't ever let us forget what real hard work is! In terms of horsepower mentioned, the power that exists today in modern machinery versus the amount of NET energy/calories you get from it does NOT hold a candle to the horsepower that Don remembers fondly. If you can't understand or comprehend what I mean above read the article below over and over again until it sets in, it will probably be one of the best financial decisions you have ever made for your future. If you don't understand EROI you need to extremely quickly! copy and paste in your browser: Happy Thanksgiving!


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer