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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Mar 13, 2009

Women are accused of being gossipers, but men can gossip just as easily. It’s just that the subjects are different. However, gossip is still gossip. The computer age has greatly improved what we used to call the grapevine, where information and misinformation is spread by word of mouth, person to person.

There had to be a lot of farmer gossip last week when a 1982 John Deere 4440 with 47 hours on the hour meter was put up at auction in Illinois. It was a subject that was discussed many times in coffee shops, elevators, parts counters and computer forums all over the country.

This was a one-owner tractor and the original owner was a farmer who had oil discovered on his land in the early 1980s. In payment for drilling for the oil on his farm, the oil company bought the farmer more farmland and several new pieces of John Deere machinery.

The farmer rented his farmland quickly and had little need for the farm equipment, which sat inside and nearly unused for many years. He passed away and the machinery was being sold to settle the estate.

Speculation covered two subjects. The first subject was what would the tractor sell for and the second one was who was going to buy it – a user, or a collector? It was going to be quite an auction and within minutes of being sold, anyone who cared, anywhere in the world, knew the tractor sold for $58,000 to Jon Kinzenbaw, a collector from Iowa. The tractor had gone to a good home.

Like many farms, my son and I had an exchange about the possibility of a 27-year-old tractor that was next to new having any use on our place. It would not be a museum piece here although looking through our shed we do resemble a museum. Many of our tractors are from the 1960s and 1970s, such as several John Deere 4010s and 4020s, an Oliver 550, IH 186 and 826 hydro, a couple Steigers, and more, all in various states of use.

The difference between other museums and our collection is most museum tractors have shiny paint and our museum pieces are wearing their working clothes as they are on the job yet. No shiny paint here. If we became the next owners, the 4440 would replace two worn, but not worn out, John Deere 4430s. The 4440 would go to work spraying crops, hauling loads from the field, and chopping stalks.

One problem with purchasing a next-to-new 27-year-old tractor and putting it to work is that we would have to listen to our neighbors and many more tractor fans, who, upon seeing the tractor with a layer of dirt, plus assorted nicks and scratches, “What were you thinking?” That is a question I do not want to answer even once.

If that tractor came here, it would have a good home because the only way you keep 30-year-old tractors running is by taking good care of them. We would do that. It would have had a long and productive life here. However, it would lose its eye appeal and be just another tractor.

For a 27-year-old tractor with a price tag of $58,000 and no front-wheel assist, it went where it should go. It went to a good home where it can be admired, polished, and appreciated for the one-of-a-kind tractor it is. Best of all, if there is ever a day a nick or scratch is put in the paint, it will not be me that did it.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net

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