My wife and I spent a few days last week with a couple who are among our best friends at their vacation home in northern Minnesota. As the four of us are about the same age, we seem to have about the same things happening as we go through life.
Raising children has given way to helping raise grandchildren. Our conversations now revolve around approaching retirement and how are we going to be best prepared for that.
A Saturday morning trip to a yard sale near my friend’s home allowed us to browse his neighbor’s sale of excess things he had accumulated in his life. One of the items I was drawn to was a Farmall B and I walked over to it for an inspection. One of the tractors I grew up on was a Farmall B that my dad sold about 15 years ago. It was the tractor I learned to drive first.
The paint was gone and a layer of gray primer covered it in many places. The tires had good tread but were weather-checked, telling me it had not been used for a while and had spent its life outside. I was assured by the owner that it ran and he could get it started if I wanted to hear it run.
I asked the most important question. How much was he asking for it? He said he had it priced at $800.
I could see it was a well-used tractor that still had some life left in it, but there would undoubtedly be some mechanical work and much paintwork needed above the purchase price. While it was interesting, there was no need for me to pursue buying it. After buying it, I would need to haul it almost 300 miles home and I did not have a trailer with me. It was better to let someone else have it.
After we left, my friend asked if I thought the $800 price was reasonable. I said to him, I bet if you held out five $100 bills to the man, you would be the new owner. My friend asked me if I had $500. I could certainly get $500, but I already have enough old tractors I answered. If I want to spend money on fixing up a tractor, I can do that with the ones I already own.
Besides, the tractor I would like to see improved to be ready for a tractor show is the Farmall 826 hydro sitting in my pole barn. The hydro transmission needs repairs and then after a thorough washing, along with some polish, it could be ready for a little work and an occasional show. That is where my money would be better spent.
My friend’s cabin in northern Minnesota has been a project that has seen improvements made over many years. He always had an improvement in the works and still has work to be completed to finish his latest expansion. He is almost 65 years old and said he figures he has 10 years to get his projects done before he can no longer do it himself. I agreed with him. I need to get the projects done that I have started. New projects do not look very important.
At age 62, I am looking at a form of retirement where my son is in charge of all the day-to-day decisions and my help will be when he needs me to open a gate or run the combine. He has told me his plans about replacing some old tractors when he is in charge.
I still have some life left in me. I am taking a place along side the Farmall 826 that, with some upkeep, I could be ready for light work or go to a show where I can talk about my glory days when I was younger.
There may be a day when I am like that Farmall B. Time will have taken a toll and I will either need a lot of fixing or will wonder if all the repairs are worth it.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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