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Collection on the shelf reflects aspirations

A collection can show who you are or who you want to be.

mychal wilmes.jpg
Mychal Wilmes

The shelf is crowded with knickknacks that include two John Deere four-wheel drive tractors, a Ford tractor and a chrome-wheeled red pickup. A dozen caps – few of which have been worn – are kept on pegs beneath the shelf.

What your collection may or may not say something about who you are or who you want to be. I’ve never owned a pickup dressed to the nines. I owned, thanks to a kind brother, a lightweight beaten up European one with rusted out floorboards and an engine that refused to quit.

The 8N Ford tractor – purchased from a dealer for the pricey sum of $500 and on its last legs – in no way resembled the one on the shelf. However, it pulled a drag and hay rake and did OK if it wasn’t asked to do too much.

What remains real in metal and grease is the Allis Chalmers 45, which is out of the elements in the shed. The shed used to house a baler, hay cutter, rake, a bean head, a two-bottom plow, a field cultivator, and two grain wagons. That was before the shed was emptied and the farmstead's new owner took over.

The tractor stayed behind while we moved to town. It would just be a rusting hulk of a lawn ornament here, a nusance to mow around. The new owner asked if he could borrow the tractor because he wants to work the 2-acre field and maybe plant trees.

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I’ve played with tractors ever since Dad dumped sand on the lawn. A lath with nails punched through substituted for a disc, a wagon, small plastic animals and other toys made in Japan completed the tableau.

The Allis was born the same year I, so we continue to have an unbreakable connection. Dad would appreciate that, given his happiest times were spent planting, cultivating and harvesting from an uncomfortable Allis Chalmers seat.

I’m not sure what he’d make of me sitting in front of a computer screen with toy tractors on the shelf. He lived and died farming, which for those with soil coursing through their veins was a blessed fate. He had incredible faith that what he planted, he would harvest in abundance and that the cows and hogs would yield enough return to make the farm payment.

Faith was kept in the old country church, a wooden structure shepherded by a priest who’d been there for 20 years. Every Sunday, seven people spilled from our car, hurrying so that we wouldn’t be late.

Dad may have worried about bills and such, but he hid it well. Mom was the bookkeeper with receipts and bills secured in a shoe box kept in the hall closet.

When my siblings and I get together and talk about the old days, we remember pitching silage, grinding feed and the cold. We remember, too, that Mother often said that things turn out as they should.

I’m not sure that is completely true.

If it were, I wouldn’t have suffered a couple strokes, have bum knees and be living in town.

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Mychal Wilmes is the retired managing editor of Agri News. He lives in West Concord, Minn., with his wife, Kathy.

Related Topics: MYCHAL WILMESRURAL LIFE
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