Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating vintage farm equipment August 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:21 AM
Oliver Super 77

Oliver Super 77

Minneaspolis Moline U gauges

Minneapolis Moline U gauges

Up until several months ago, my interest in old tractors ranked at about zero. I simply couldn’t understand why my husband, Randy, liked looking at outdated farm stuff.

Now I get it.

While driving through Morgan last spring, we stopped to view a row of restored vintage tractors parked across the highway from Morgan Grain and Feed.

It was my idea to stop. Really.

And in the process, I discovered the beauty of old tractors—in the over-sized steering wheels, the curves of grills, the gleaming colors, the unique emblems. I saw not the mechanical, but the artistic, side of these farm machines.

A trip several months later to Minnesota’s Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls reinforced my new interest in vintage tractors. Check out the forthcoming fall issue of Minnesota Moments magazine for a feature and photos from the ag museum.

And then just two weeks ago, while accompanying Randy to a Faribault farm where he is doing motor work on a 1950-T Oliver tractor, I got an eyeful of more aging ag equipment.

Fifteen-year-old Jarett led me on a tour through the farm yard and machine shed, pointing to this Oliver tractor and that Oliver tractor. This teen knows his tractors.

All the while, I snapped photos.

Again, I sought out the artistic aspect of these tractors.

To pique your interest, I’m sharing those photos, hoping that if you have not already discovered the beauty in old farm equipment, these images will entice you to take a second look.

Because I don’t want to overwhelm you, I’ll present a few pictures from this rural art gallery now and then more in a future blog.

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear why you appreciate old stuff from the farm.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minneapolis Moline U

Minneapolis Moline U

Oliver Super 77 gauges

Oliver Super 77 gauges

Oliver 77

Oliver 77


10 Responses to “Appreciating vintage farm equipment”

  1. Nate Clark Says:

    The reason I like the old equipment is because its what we farm with, my dads tractor is a Minneapolis Moline U and most of our implements has steel wheels and was meant to be pulled by horses and has hitches bolted or welded on.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Alright, Nate, you need to tell me more. About your farm, where it’s located and why you and your father farm this way today.

      • Nate Clark Says:

        Its located in NW Kansas about 4 miles from Colorado and 6 from Nebraska, I’ll be the 4th generation on the farm. The reason we farm this way is because we can’t afford anything better. Things are bad enough we can’t even afford a well so we have to haul water from our neighbors water well about a mile away, sometimes up to 3-4 loads a day for the cattle.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        This is remarkable that you are a fourth generation family farmer. That is something of which you can be especially proud. I can only assume that you love the country life and farming or you would not stay on the farm. Certainly your financial situation sounds challenging. I cannot imagine hauling water from the neighbor’s place. What is the cost of digging a well? Did you have one that went dry?

      • Nate Clark Says:

        Well for a test hole it would be 5k and thats with no guarantee that they hit water. We had a well for the house that went dry back in 2000 and we had a well that was hand dug by my grandfather that went dry about a year and a half ago it had been running just enough to support the cows.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Oh, Nate… So no water right now to serve your house? How do you manage without water in your home?

      • Nate Clark Says:

        My dad hauls a load up here and then we haul it into the house in buckets.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        That’s a lot of work, Nate. But you do what you have to, right? I cannot imagine.

        Are you working on a solution, trying to save for a new well, anything?

        Also, tell me a little more about your farm? Do you crop farm? You mentioned cows. I’m trying to wrap my head around the size and type of farming operation you have.

      • Nate Clark Says:

        We raise cane and sometimes milo for feed for the cows we run about 20 head now because we had to cut down last year due to the drought. I can’t remember exactly how many acres but I believe it’s somewhere around 300 acres and its about a 50/50 split on farm ground and pasture.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        A small farm then by today’s standards. But that’s OK. Big isn’t always better. I grew up on a southwestern Minnesota dairy and crop farm with about 30 cows plus beef cattle and, I think, 150 acres. Or was it 250? Can’t recall. The home place is rented out now.

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