When I was a kid, this was the time of year we headed back to school, where the first assignment was invariably a report on 'What I Did on My Summer Vacation.' Those reports of yesteryear, written on pages in a Big Chief tablet, were in the back of my mind as I wrote an article for this issue of Farm Collector, covering a tractor tour of Scotland and England.
John and Carol Harvey of Classic Tractor Fever fame put on the tour. They say it was their first attempt at such an enterprise, but I'm not convinced. A trip that flawless can only be the result of years of experience. An insider's tip: If any of you are in charge of your club's show, contact the Harveys before you book a date. They apparently are in good with the weatherman.
Everyone on the tour was a long way from home. Much was different from what we knew; much, though, was startlingly familiar.
'The biggest problem for dubs here is getting younger members.' When I heard those words, earnestly spoken by a man at a tractor show in Scotland, I struggled to keep a straight face. Travel is about new horizons, but there I was, a gazillion miles from home, having the same conversation I'd had countless times in the U.S.
Young folks in Scotland, my new friend noted, have little interest in tractors built before 1920, and even less interest in steam engines. 'They just can't relate to those old things. That's not what they grew up with.'
Then, too, younger folks face the same pressures as do their counterparts in the States: They're living on schedules already made frantic by demands of work and family. Factor in the expense of collecting, and it is a universal challenge to persuade young folks to make the investment of time and resources.
A few days later, I visited with a roofer who glumly noted that new government regulations had nearly doubled the cost of roofing a house. Again, it was a familiar discussion, but one with a twist: His roofing material? Thatch!
And then there were the people. Friendly, big hearted, warm people, curious about our ways; happy to tell about theirs. Deja vu all over again? Absolutely. If there's a common thread in the world of farm collectibles, it's the friendly people, and that's clearly a universal theme.