BABE, THE BLUE OX


| December/January 1992

  • My first view of Tug
    My first view of Tug #2, I am on the left. I know my friends were thinking, 'You paid how much for this?'
  • Tractor

  • Bob and tug
    Bob and tug, 'Babe, the Blue Ox.'

  • My first view of Tug
  • Tractor
  • Bob and tug

514 Brown Street, Jackson, Minnesota 56143 Reprinted with permission from, The 9N-2N-8N Newsletter.

Maybe I was born with tractor grease under my fingernails. In 1918 my dad bought a new Emerson Branting-ham 12-20 tractor to use on the family farm. I was one year old. This machine was advanced for its time . . . had what they called a high-speed engine. It was powerful and had good traction in the muddy fields. It was a 'dog' though, as something was always going out. Whenever Dad was repairing it, I was around managing to get real greasy.

Five years later, Dad sold it and bought a well-used 1921 Fordson. This one also seemed to need a lot of engine repair. The cast-iron valve heads would separate from their steel stems causing all sorts of confusion in the combustion chamber, and finally go through a piston or a cylinder head. So, Dad was the neighborhood Fordson and Model T fixer-upper. That gave me plenty of opportunity to help dissect and repair the Fords.

A later model Fordson came next, and it was real modern because it had a governor. The engine was much better, and this one did a lot of work on the farm. The transmission was something else, however, requiring three overhauls in the last season of its use. Dad switched to Farmalls.



When the 9N appeared, farmers did not rush to buy them because of their misfortunes with the Fordson. There were many on-the-farm demonstrations, but it took a daring farmer to buy one. Any farmer with an ounce of brains could see this 9N was just a toy and that it would never be able to do a day's work with that newfangled three point hitch and such, and that it was just a joke, and how could you expect to cultivate corn by looking ahead and have a cultivator trailing behind you ... I thought we should have one, but Dad vetoed that idea.

Ford founded the National Farm Youth Foundation in 1940, and I enrolled with our dealer in a correspondence course in Farm Engineering and Management. Just as I was completing the first year, I received a letter from the County Courthouse 'inviting' me to spend the next four years in Europe. Dad wrote to me while I was in Italy saying he had been lucky enough to purchase a wartime 2N.



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