Might be a picture, might be buried . . .
Might be a picture, might be buried . . .
About 19 years ago I made the decision to buy a small utility tractor to use on our farm, primarily to mow and for odd jobs. I drove to the local dealerships and looked over their selection. I found one that suited my needs; however, it was priced at slightly over $17,000. The salesman calculated that my monthly payments would be over $500 . . . certainly not something I was looking forward to.
As I left one dealership, I noticed an old Farmall Model H, which looked to be late 1940s or early 1950s vintage . . . sitting there looking awfully lonely.
The first tractor that Dad let me drive was a Farmall H, when I was allowed to disc fields at age 12 or 13. I knew that it did not have a lot of power, as it could only pull a 2-bottom plow, and it had no power steering. The salesman stated that a fellow from Roachdale had traded the tractor, and he had used it for 30 years to mow pasture. It came with a Woods pull-behind mower . . . the price was $1,500 for both. I don't know whether it was the fond memories that I had of driving a Farmall when I was a teenager, or the fact that I wanted to save money . . . but I decided to buy that Farmall Model H that summer day.
I have used the Farmall every summer since then. I didn't even have to look in any books or manuals, as I remembered the details of starting, maintenance, changing oil, etc. Once in a while, the old tractor is hard to start, especially since it is still a 6-volt, but a little patience and a shot of starting fluid usually does the trick. When I am on that old tractor, I feel like I am 13 years old again. I looked up the serial number, and it was made in 1951, so it's been working hard the last 68 years. It has a few dents and dings, kind of like me, and I don't know how long it is going to last, kind of like me, too . . . but it is part of the family now. I am glad I bought it. I will miss it when it finally "conks out." I may just have it overhauled and restored when the time comes.
I noticed lately that when I am finished using the old tractor, I have been wiping it off, patting the top of the hood and telling the old gal that it did a good job. I told my wife that if I kick the bucket, I want her to have someone dig a big hole out behind the barn, strap my remains to the tractor seat, and bury me with my old Farmall H . . . She replied that I must have lost my mind, and it might be best to just have a picture of the tractor on my gravestone
So I guess I'd better get my final wish and instructions to my attorney . . . Oh well . . .
John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.