Oklahoma Farming Through the Years

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107 Beech wood Pl Lexington Park, MD 20653

My father began farming in Oklahoma as a 16-year-old with his team and bundle wagon. Each year Dad and his brothers helped the local farmers with the threshing which was done with a steam engine and a thresher. The steam engine was sometimes parked at my grandfather's after harvest where it would remain until next year.

Dad bought his first tractor, a Fordson, in about 1928 or 1929. In 1931 he bought a 1929 D John Deere that had been returned from Argentina following a crop disaster there. The 29 'D' served well until 1936 when Dad traded it for a 1935 'back model' (new, but 1 year old). This one had 3 forward speeds.

I learned to drive this one when I was only 10 years old. I wasn't big enough to crank it when I started but could soon walk up the lugs and apply enough pull to the flywheel to start it. This one was still going strong when WW-2 broke out and even through the conflict 'Johnny' kept up the good work.

By 1943 rubber tires were installed on the front only. My, what a joy to drive! In 1944 a surplus set of 16' wide B-50 bomber tires with 16 ply casing and diamond tread were installed. When it came to driving old 'Johnny' with rubber all around, I thought I was in heaven for sure. My hitch in the army left Dad to farm alone again which he did with the 1935 'Johnny'. Later, after my return from the Phillipines, Dad bought a 1937 'D' at a farm sale. This was faster in some of the gears and seemed like a new one beside old 'Johnny'. Dad named this '37 'Kenny', as he bought it at the Kenny Bliss farm sale.

By this time I had returned home and married my high school sweetheart. I bought a new 1946 Ford Ferguson and a modest line of equipment. Dad kept insisting that it was just another Fordson with rubber 'tars' (tires). It didn't take long, however, to get his attention with the 3 point hydraulic system and the Sherman overdrive transmission. We (Dad and I) put in 60 acres of alfalfa which was cut each time with the 'Ford Fergy'. Dad used the 'D', Kenny, to rake with a new David Bradley side delivery rake. Dad had mixed some turnip seed with the alfalfa, just a tiny bit, but we had tons of turnips. We approached the alfalfa pellet mill on pelleting turnips but no one knew of a market for turnip pellets. Our dairy and beef stock ate well that winter (on turnips).

I rented a half section in Oklahoma in 1948 which I farmed with the Ford Fergy. As the hours were long and the fields so large we decided to reduce our acres and go to the dairy business. Now the Ford Ferguson only had about of the work.

In the meantime, Dad began shopping for another John Deere. He decided on a 630 gas with hydraulics and mounted equipment. This was . the last year for the 'two bangers' and the 3010 took its place. Johnny and Kenny now took their rest in the shade of the old elm trees while the 630 did the tasks with greater ease and speed. Dad really never felt that there was any other brand but the green ones with the yellow wheels. I told my dad that cast iron becomes better with age, in fact, some companies wouldn't machine an engine block until it had 'cured' for about 5 years. We agreed that Dad's cast iron was the best in the country.

My dad retired from farming in 1966 and he and Mom continued to live on his farm but I took over until 1973. I wound up with Johnny, Kenny and the 630. Also in my stable I had a 44 Diesel with Buick power steering, which I later traded in on a new MF180D. Man, could we farm now! Johnny and Kenny were traded, too. Farming was now with the 630 and the MF180. Machinery with 21' swath across the field, 4 bottom mounted plow to accompany the 3 bottom JD plow (mounted 3 pt).

In 1973 General Electric Co. asked me to go to Saudi Arabia for a 2 year (turned out to be 5) period. I transferred the machinery to one of my farmer sons as my father had done before me.

Crop prices and the high cost of farming have been a disaster to many a young farmer and older ones, too. My son, David, has found it necessary to work off the farm to support his most enjoyable and unrewarding hobby (farming). Not a new piece of machinery has since come on the farm. Farmers' auctions and trade-ins have been the source for these days.

Incidentally, my dad and mom are still on the farm. Dad will be 85 in January and I will be 60 in February. I shall retire from my 'off the farm job' in 6 years and plan to hobby farm with antique machinery, a 1947 Ford Ferguson and a 1952 T030 Ferguson. I have a 1930 Delco Light Plant to restore, plus a nearly new 1920 Ford Touring with only 20,000 miles. Being the 2nd registered owner of the 'T' makes 9 grandchildren happy to see Grandpa.

Our children remarked that if we could mate the Ford Ferguson with the T030 we could raise little ones which could shut off the Japanese imports. Great idea, but all the offspring would be gray and not flashy enough for this and future generations.