Plowing his way to nationals

Competition: Mike Strottman takes his tractor to Ontario event.

All packed: Mike Strottman with his restored mounted competition plow and tractor.

All packed: Mike Strottman with his restored mounted competition plow and tractor.

A Salmon Arm man and his tractor have headed to Ontario to compete in the Canadian Plowing Championships.

It’s his first shot at nationals, and Mike Strottman is a little nervous. The Canadian Plowing Organization’s world championship competition runs from Aug. 14 to 16.

Strottman will be competing against 10 others from across Canada in the seniors conventional plowing category.

He qualified for nationals by placing well in the B.C. Provincials earlier this year.

“It’s a little scary, it’s my first time at nationals, but I think I’m ready. It’s an honour to make it to nationals,” said Strottman, who has been competing in plowing since 1996, when he was 36 years old.

“I started a little late,” he said.

Strottman, who grew up on a farm, was involved with the Pioneer Collectors Club in Armstrong in 1996, when he discovered competition plowing.

Knowing the sport was declining, and taking his interest in tractors into consideration, he decided to give it a try. He started out in the antique class, which consists of using an old tractor to turn over the soil.

“I was hooked right from the start,” said Strottman.

Since beginning to plow competitively, Strottman has mainly participated in competitions in Armstrong and Chilliwack, and has recently moved into the champion class, where he uses a restored mounted competition plow that he worked on himself.

Strottman says plowing can be difficult due to the precision required, but that is also something that he enjoys about it.

“It’s a rewarding challenge, you have to get everything just right,” he said, noting that one of the challenges is also how the land changes at every venue.

“Every piece of land is different – you need use your wits and intuition to get it right.”

At the national championships he will be required to perfectly plow a 100-metre by 20-metre plot of land and will be judged on how straight and deep he has plowed, how the opening split in the soil looks and how the ridge lines look. He will be given a total of three hours to complete the plow.

“We’ll see how I do,” laughed Strottman.

Although sometimes difficult, Strottman still enjoys plowing and plans to continue doing it for the foreseeable future. He’s even passed down his plowing knowledge to his daughter Vanessa, and is looking forward to sharing his love for it with his grandchildren.

“The smell of freshly turned soil – you can’t beat it,” he said.

Strottman noted the sport of plowing is still on the decline.

“There’s not enough juniors getting into it,” he said.