Tractor Still Has Place On Bivens Farm
Mary Bivens phoned the “News” last week to share the story of a tractor that has been in continuous use on the Bivens family’s Twin Brooks Farm near Cito since it was bought locally i n 1944. Although she’s a lifelong farm girl, Mary says she often has to ask “What is that thing?” when she sees today’s huge air-conditioned tractors and other farm machines.
“We, here, possess such a rare machine, which was created in the past, but is yet today in constant use on our farm – 66 years later – being used by the third generation of Bivens farmers.”
We thought our readers would find Mary’s story interesting, especially this week as Fulton County celebrates tractors, the harvest and all things rural.
The oldest and most treasured tractor on our Twin Brooks Farm, which is owned and operated by Gerald and Barry Bivens, near Cito, is a Farmall H. That was purchased by Gerald’s father, Horace Bivens, in 1944. Horace bought the tractor from Fulton County Farm Supply, which was then owned and operated by Frank and Ross Ott, forerunner of Ott Brothers Farm Supply and the current Ott Brothers establishment.
Horace paid the sum of $1,200 for the tractor that came equipped with inferior war-grade rubber tires, which quickly disintegrated when applied to vigorous farm use. This work-horse tractor has been used continually since it first came to the Bivens farm – by Horace during his decades of farming, now by Gerald and his son, Barry.
At the time it was purchased many years ago, the Farmall was the only tractor on the Bivens farm and was used to operate every implement. It is now used mainly for raking hay during the haying season.
Gerald and Barry spend many hours during the winter months restoring cast-off relics of the past. They possess a collection of aged tractors, none newer than 1982, with which they operate their farm, growing the crops that feed their dairy herd.
“New paint fever” has never afflicted the Bivens men. They are drawn, instead, to machines that are covered with dust and corroded with rust that have occupied a space in the back of an old shed, or in an overgrown fence row for the past 25 to 50 years. The father and son team enjoy a great sense of accomplishment when, after many hours of tedious work, they pull from their shop a fully operational, newly painted relic of the past, ready to be put to work after many years of neglect and abandonment, machines such as the restored Farmall road grader, the Minneapolis-Moline corn sheller, the Gehl selfpropelled harvester and an Allis-Chalmers bulldozer. These are just a few of their most accomplished feats that have been put to the test of time, and passed with flying colors, by performing as well on the job today as they did many years ago.
This wife and mother sometimes cringes when I hear discussion about an upcoming sale and a rare item being sold. Although I may bite my nails and complain, saying “Not another tractor! Thirteen is an unlucky number!,” I’m proud of their talented achievements, and their interest in preserving remnants of our past, and I wonder does this fondness for aging and time-worn things extend to a wife and mother? One can only hope!