|I bought the Super M in the Fall of
1995 in Gnaw Bone, Indiana while moving to Ohio from Arizona.
been living in suburban Tucson for the past six years, during which
my long-dormant farming roots began to reassert themselves.
to a couple of tractor magazines, begun collecting tractor books, got a
license plate that said "M FARML," started going to farm shows,
I dreamed about buying a tractor, but I had no place to keep one and I
knew the Air Force would move me before too long.
Sure enough the
time came to move, and I was assigned
to Wright-Patterson AFB
Ohio. Dayton is just a bit down the road from the rented farm
I lived as a very young child, and where I became fascinated
farmer's great big tractors (two-cylinder John Deeres), and only a few
hours' drive from the little farm where my dad and stepmother still
I was delighted. (Eleven years earlier, Ohio was the
I wanted to be assigned, but time has a way of changing those kinds of
for three long days on the interstate
with a car full of stuff, I decided to get off and drive some smaller
as I neared Ohio.
So I was
cruising along a two-lane highway, enjoying
the beautiful summer afternoon and the farm scenery along the way, when
I passed through the town of Gnaw Bone, Indiana. At the edge
was a little gas station/convenience store/used tractor dealership,
about 20 or 30 old tractors sitting outside. I of course
pulled in and proceeded to spend an hour or two looking over and
all these tractors with the owner of the place. One in
caught my eye, a greasy and dirty but otherwise straight old Super
M Farmall, the tractor of my dad's dreams when he was a kid
I darn near
bought it on the spot, but unfortunately
suffered from an acute attack of common sense and decided that perhaps
I should actually arrive in the state I was moving to, maybe even find
a place to live, before spending a couple thousand dollars on a
farm tractor. So I regretfully left, but kept the guy's card.
A month later,
with a house deal waiting to close,
I ran across the card again and decided the time had come. My
agreed to let me keep a tractor at his place since I would be living in
the suburbs again, so my future tractor had a home. I knew I
that Super M, but thought that I should at least look at some tractors
that were closer to my dad's farm rather than go buy the first one I'd
seen, which happened to be 350 miles away. So I went to
and dealers and answered ads in the farming papers, and looked at nine
other Farmall Ms and Super Ms. Not a one of them matched up
memory of that one in Indiana, so I called the guy up and arranged to
take another look.
It was all over
but the singing by that point,
but I managed to make a show of fiddling with the clutch and the brakes
and the steering and the tires and the temp gauge and such, just to
I wasn't a total sucker, then paid the guy what he wanted and arranged
delivery to my dad's place. (I later wondered if driving up
car with license plates that read "M FARML" might not have been the
way to set myself up as a tough bargainer, but what the heck).
A few years
later--having cleaned the tractor
up, tinkered with it, hauled manure and raked hay with it, used it to
the kids slow rides around the house--I
myself by selling it when I discovered yet another machine that I just
had to have: A narrow-front John
Deere 3020, for sale in Modoc, Indiana.
came from Modoc, Indiana, in January 1999, at another
point in my life when my practical need for a farm tractor was rather
The Air Force was just about to move me once again, this time to a
assignment in northern Greenland.
no prior intention whatsoever of buying a tractor just then--but as
the Super M, an opportunity presented itself that I couldn't pass
I'd quietly been developing a case of New
Generation Fever, but hadn't
realized its seriousness. Just a month or so earlier I'd
a new book called John
Deere New Generation
Tractors, since I'd long thought the 3010/3020 and 4010/4020
about the most beautiful tractors ever built and knew that one was in
Then the Antique
Tractor Internet Service
had a holiday auction, and I bid on operator's manuals for a 3020 and a
4010, just for the fun of reading them.
I didn't end up with the manuals, so I fired off
an internet order and
bought some toy New Generation tractors: A 1/64th scale 2510
my desk at work, and a 1/16th scale 4010 for my desk at home.
to complement the Precision Classic 1/16th scale 4020 that sits in its
box up in a closet until I figure out how to display it without letting
it get dusty or demolished by the kids).
All seemed well, until at lunch one day I noticed
one of those for-sale
magazines covering trucks and heavy equipment. I thumbed
it absent-mindedly, looking at photos of excavators and trucks and the
occasional old farm tractor, until I ran across an ad for this
(Off in the distance somewhere, a large woman started
The tractor was for sale in Modoc, Indiana, a
small town a bit northwest
of Richmond, which looked like an easy drive from Dayton. So
over for a look, liked the seller and liked the tractor, and knew I had
to have it. On a very wintry January day a week or so later,
in hand, I headed back to Modoc and closed the deal. Freezing
powdery horizontal snow whipping over the flat Indiana farmland, my
son and three-year-old daughter bouncing around on snowdrifts, and me
"What a great life."
My 12 months in Greenland came and went, but that
machine and the people
and life it'll keep me in touch with are permanent. I love
old machines, and I love the fact that I found them in little Indiana
kind of places my dad lived
as a young man,
building the love of soil and equipment and history that he'd one day
on to me.
I regret having to sell the Super M to make room
in the barn and checkbook
for the 3020, but I had done most of the things I wanted to with
I imagine at some point I'll buy another M or Super M, as well as a
Deere 60, Cockshutt 30, Oliver 77 and a batch of other fine old
but for now I can and should fill my tractor need with just one
the 3020 will do a fine job as that one.
So I'll go up
and work with it as often as I can,
and once in a while get to do some real jobs like raking hay or running
the brush hog. The kids are seven and four now, and both are
interested in it and all things farm-related, which I encourage every
I get. One of these years I'll be able to settle down and
one permanent spot, and then it'll be time to find a little farm of my
own. For the time being, trips to my dad's place do pretty
every time I look at an Indiana map, I remind myself how lucky I was to
happen across these old machines for sale there.