I believe one of my most favorite shows on television is the Antiques Road Show on
PBS. I love seeing what people found in their attic or at a yard sale thatís old and
antiquie and then hearing the antique specialist gasp and say, "This is scarce. In fact,
itís almost non existent and you got it for a quarter? Itís worth 20 zillion dollars now."
And, for some reason, most the owners of these zillion dollars antiques usually keep a
bland expression on their faces as if they were use to owning things worth zillions of
dollars. Or, maybe they just had a stroke after hearing it and froze up. I know what I
would do. I would be whooping and leaping around so much the cameras couldnít
keep up with me.
The only fault I can see with the Antiques Road Show is that they donít have an area
for antique tractors and farm equipment. They are really missing out making their
show a sure winner by not having that. In my line of work as a goat farmer, those
antique tractors and farm equipment is what keeps me solvent. If I were to go out and
buy a brand new 4 wheel drive tractor, why that $30-40 thousand tractor would
knock me out of the goat business entirely. No way my poor little goats could make
up for that expenditure in years and years.
I run the goat farming on a shoe string and itís an antique shoe string at that. Lee and
I look for good deals on tractors and farm machinery and what we can pay cash for.
Fortunately for us this antique machinery gets cheaper as it gets older, when still
usable on a farm. If itís as old as us or older, then we know itís the machinery for us.
Now, thatís as old as us separately, not combined age. Good grief, I donít think they
had machinery back then.
You have to remember in buying that two thousand dollar antique tractor that still
runs, that you have to give up a few conveniences like paint, seats, etc. But, I insist
on a steering wheel and 4 tires, even if they are bald. The rest is optional. You donít
need lights when you can carry a flashlight with you. Sure, itís uncomfortable in your
mouth while you use both hands to keep the steering wheel on, but you got light.
And, if you need a seat, thatís what sales at Walmart are for. A bass boat seat on
discount fits most tractors just fine. Ever try to buy a regular tractor seat? They think
your behind must be made of gold. We have always been proud of being on the
cutting edge of innovative thinking when it comes to farming and spending money.
One day Lee was bragging to our neighbor on his bass boat seat for his tractor when
our neighbor, who owns a nifty tiny antique bull dozer, said he used an office chair on
his bull dozer, and one that had been thrown away too. Wow. We really were
impressed. He spent no money and made his antique bull dozer functional again.
Lee came home one evening full of admiration for the farmer down the road. It had
been an unusually hot summer. The sun was intense. Lee said the farmer had bought
a plastic swimming pool and had jerryrigged it up over his tractor seat to give him
shade while he was working in the hay field. First off, I was impressed that he had a
seat since he buys antique tractors too. Next, I pointed out to Lee that he could have
done better. People were all the time throwing out plastic swimming pools that are
split, leaving them sit beside the curb for the trash guys. To me, itís free booty if itís
sitting by the curb. There was a kid sitting on a tricycle once beside the curb, but I
just couldnít think of a use for him, maybe the tricycle, but not him. He wasnít big
enough to do much work. But, back to the split plastic swimming pool, a little duct
tape to fix the split and you have free shade for you on your tractor. Also, hay rope is
good for seat belts on a tractor, but a little tricky if you have to get off in a hurry.
Antique manure spreaders are important on our farm. Once again the goatsí pockets
arenít deep enough for a new manure spreader, but buying an antique, they can
handle that. We used one for ten years that most itís floor boards were missing. How
did we keep all the goat berries in? Why, we layered the floor with old hay and then
piled the manure on top of that.
I remember once our nephew went to an FFA equipment sale and he came back to us
all in awe. He informed us that the manure spreaders they sold all had floors in them.
By the way, those FFA equipment sale can spoil a kid, giving him grandiose ideas of
equipment only twenty years old. I informed him that those people had to put floor in
theirs because they didnít have an abundance of old hay like we had. But, I certainly
wouldnít point that out to the people at those sales. It would only make them feel
Antique hay balers is another of our specialties. Our very favorite antique John Deere
14T hay baler died on us last summer. Bummer. It had been the best little baler, only
asking that we use the orange nylon twine, and it worked like a trooper, baling
hundreds of square bales for us for years. We bought it for $150 from a fellow who
had decided to retire from farming and sold the nice little baler to us.
Before that we had an antique hay baler that was trouble from day one. It would go
happily along and suddenly forget to tie a bale or two or ten and then start up again.
Now, thatís not a problem if you were fortunate like us in having two young nephews
who thought working in the hay field was the best thing a kid could do. One or the
other would walk beside the baler while I baled and when they would see a bale not
tying as it should, they would holler and Iíd stop and they would tie the bale and then
off we would go again.
Very talented kids, unfortunately they got tired of walking the hay fields while I baled
when they became teenagers. I think it was something about being older and smarter.
Then we were forced to buy the antique John Deere hay baler and what a treat that
Now Iíve been thinking about sending Antiques Road Show a business proposal. I
will tell them a sure fire way of being the number one show watched by all farmers in
America. They simply have to add the antique working tractor and farm equipment to
their show. And when I mean working, I mean working. That equipment has to
actually do the work for the farm. I donít mean some dressed up, gussied up farm
equipment. I mean the down to earth, havenít seen paint in years, shaking,
shuddering and putt putt putting along type of farm equipment that keeps the farm
In return for this obviously brilliant idea, I insist that all ideas to repair, hold together,
add to, without much cost or no cost at all, be sent directly to me. Talk about a
bonanza. I canít wait to write and tell them my proposal. Iím sure I have some paper
here somewhere that hasnít been written on both sides.