Family ties create bonds for many collectors. Floyde Adams, Las Cruces, N.M.,and Bud Deerman, La Mesa, N.M., know that well. Both have farm collectibles and tractors that originally belonged to family members.
Among Floyde’s favorites: a John Deere R.
“My granddad died in ’72, and this was his last tractor,” he said.
When Floyde’s uncle offered him the Model R, there was no question Floyde would take it … if he could get it. The tractor was, after all, in Mexico, where his grandfather had lived.
“Getting it out of Mexico was a true adventure,” he said. “That was the best entertainment I ever had. We had no papers on it. If there had been papers, it would have been simple.”
The JD R was Deere’s first production diesel tractor, Floyde said.
“It is a fairly interesting machine,” he added. “In those days, battery technology was terrible. They needed a reliable way to start a diesel tractor, so they came up with an auxiliary starting engine – a ‘pony motor’. There was a smaller gas engine to start the diesel engine. It was very similar to the technology on a Caterpillar.”
The Model R was also Deere’s first entry into cabs.
“It’s so rare, my friends had never seen a real one, or even a picture of one,” he said. The cab was missing, but he was able to track one down in Iowa.
One tractor on his property is not green: his son’s Case DI.
“It was never intended as a farm tractor,” Floyde said. “They just made 600 of them in 1941-42, and they were used as ‘tugs’ during World War II to move bombers around the airfields.”
Floyde’s collection started with a friend who had a Stover engine.
“It was one of those deals where it was in his mom’s yard, and she had petunias in the hopper,” he said. “He said I could have it if I’d restore it, and let him help. I thought I was the only person in the world crazy enough to be interested in old engines. But it turns out, there’s a lot of goofy people.”
Today, his collection includes four Stovers. He began adding tractors four years ago, and there’s no end in sight.
“I’m not sure,” he said, “but I think they’re breeding in here at night.”
Bud Deerman also favors green.
“I grew up on tractors like the John Deere G,” he said. “Dad had a whole fleet of tractors, and John Deere was his favorite. We use all Deeres to this day.”
Among the tractors in his collection is a ’36 A.
“My dad and uncle traded two teams of horses for a ’36 A when they started farming, and they continued to use horses for a long time after that,” he said. “It runs fantastic, but I can’t even imagine farming with a ’36 A.”
His Model B is totally restored, inside and out. But it’s not truly representative of Bud’s collection.
“I’m not one for all the shiny paint. We look more at getting them running,” he said. “They’d probably be worth more if we did paint them. But I like them for what they were built for … for what they were designed to do.”
A Model D from the forties offers stark contrast to the picture-perfect B.
“We found that in the middle of a pasture about a half mile from the Mexico border, and there was no farm anywhere nearby.” he said. “It had been pretty well ransacked, and spent a lot of years in the desert sun, I would guess it’s pretty well used up.”
Bud counts about 15 vintage classics in his collection, including a 1955 JD 60, a ’41 G and a ’51 G (currently on loan to the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum).
An aging iron horse stands out among the Deeres. Bud is acting as caretaker for a Lauson Beaver found on a nearby farm.
“This is about the first tractor the old timers remember in the Mesilla Valley,” he said. “I’d guess it dates to the twenties.”
Bud is one of a steadily decreasing number of collectors who actually work the land. He’s seen the effect of a changing economy on the family farm.
“My uncles were among the very early settlers here,” he said. “When I was a kid, there were 10 Deerman relatives farming in the valley. Now, me and my son are the last ones.” FC
For more information: Floyde Adams, 2001 S. Valley Dr., Las Cruces, NM 88005; phone (505) 523-7511; FAX (505) 523-5841; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bud Deerman, Rt. 1 Box 340B, La Mesa, NM 88044; (505) 233-3646.