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A very good time

Agriculture.com Staff 04/02/2007 @ 7:08am

My new neighbor Dave stopped by for a visit Sunday afternoon. It was an early spring day so Dave drove his favorite transportation, a Case 830 (no cab). It is his pride and joy, well, along with his family.

Dave is not quite two years older than I am and grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. He moved here along with his family from the state of Washington about two years ago. For two guys who have only recently met, we can visit easily and at great length. He could be the brother I never had.

With age and agriculture as a common thread, our favorite subjects are old tractors and old cars, that is, our memories come alive when we go back to the '50s and '60s. We each have our favorites, but we look at everything with the warm memories reminiscing brings.

As part of our freewheeling conversation that covered everything from Farmall F-30s to Ford Galaxies, we got started on what we would do if we won the multi-million dollar lottery allowing us to buy our dreams. After we took care of our immediate priorities, we would use the remaining money to buy those cars and tractors that we admired back then and still do today. Dave would buy more Case tractors and fix them up to next to new condition. For starters, I would buy the letter series of Chrysler 300s and a lot of Ford Galaxie 500 XLs.

Dave said he would also buy about 300 acres so he could keep his tractors exercised. Dave's point was what many of us early baby boomers believe, that we grew up during a very special time in history. Dave would farm his 300 acres in much the same way it was done when we were boys. He would have livestock and feed them ear corn. He wanted to include cultivating as an important part of his weed control.

I do not want to go that far back in time because I like Roundup Ready genetics and a combine that allows me to harvest just corn and soybeans while leaving the rest in the field. But I do agree with Dave's point that farming then was good to a lot of people. Nobody was very rich and a lot of time was spent making sure the bills were paid and there was enough to eat. Neighbors were neighborly and large families meant that the school and Sunday schools had rooms full of students.

Nor do I want to say that farming today is not good. It is different times between then and now. Farming has gone through many, many changes in its history and there are many changes coming, many that we cannot imagine. Dave and I have memories of small towns that supported a bank, lumberyard, an implement dealer, plus more than one eating-place, gas station and grocery store.

Looking at small towns today, the bare lots and empty rundown buildings remind us of what was once there. Their time has time passed just like the 80-acre farm that provided a living for a farmer and his family. That 80-acre farm is now an 80-acre field along with his neighbor's 160-acre farm that is also one field.

On that Sunday afternoon, Dave and I visited for an hour about important things like the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz and what it meant when International Harvester introduced the F-series tractors. It was a lot of visiting for two guys who can go back over 50 years in an instant but if asked what they had for breakfast that morning would probably have to pause and think about it. It was a very good time, then and now.

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