The Love of a Tractor Lasts Forever
Editor’s Note: Bob Nelson shared this story about his life experiences with a 1948 Ford 8N tractor. The story provides insight into how tractors play an important role in people’s lives. The photos show Bob at approximately 8 years of age on his Grandpa Habrman’s tractor and a more recent shot of the same tractor. We hope you enjoy Bob’s story as much as we did.
Grandpa Habrman’s 1948 Ford 8N Tractor
By Bob Nelson
“To the extent that it is possible to “love” an inanimate object, I loved my Grandpa Habrman’s 1948 Ford 8N tractor. I learned to drive on it, as well as how to use a clutch and transmission. Grandpa knew how much that tractor meant to me, so he gave me lots of chances to drive. I still love this tractor. Judging by the serial number on the engine block, this tractor was manufactured in mid-June of 1948. I have an original owner Dearborn tractor registration, signed by Grandpa, dated July 13, 1948. My birthday is July 16, 1948. Do you believe in coincidences?“
“Those days were different to be sure. Kids were driving tractors solo by the age of 10 years. I spent a lot of my childhood at Grandpa and Grandma Habrman’s dairy farm on Pokegama creek. There was always something to do with the tractor. Picking rocks in the fields, hauling water to the calves on the adjacent 40 acres and raking hay into windrows. Mid-summer meant haying time. Grandpa put his hay up “loose,”; meaning the hay was lifted to the hay wagon by a trailing hay lift. Grandpa would lay “slings” in the hay wagon and distribute the hay with a pitchfork as I drove the tractor over the windrows. It was hot, dirty work in baking sunshine. Then, after 3 slings were filled, the wagon would be towed to the barn where I would pull the slings up to the haymow by rope, one at a time. Grandpa would go in the haymow and yell when he wanted grandma to pull the trip rope and drop the hay.
“The best time was mid-August when it was time to harvest the oats. Grandpa was part owner of a McCormick-Deering threshing machine with several other nearby farmers. We would spend about 2 weeks going from farm to farm as all of the owners got together and jointly threshed the oats. I would drive the tractor, pulling a hay wagon from oat shock to oat shock. The workers spoke to each other in Bohemian while throwing the oat bundles onto the hay wagon. Every noon meal was like Thanksgiving, as the farm wives put on a feast that you couldn’t believe. The threshing machine belched out and filled the air with oat straw and chaff. That was REALLY hot and dirty!
“In the fall, it was time to go into the woods to cut and split wood. I would drive the tractor out, pulling a wagon to load the split wood and haul it back to the house where it would be stacked to warm the house for the winter ahead.
“Those were some of the best days of my life as I look back at them. What a fantastic childhood.”
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