Restored Farmall and Memories of Horse-Farming Days

Letters to the editor about a restored Farmall tractor, memories of horse-farming days, and a Prince Albert tin.

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by Loren terlisner

“He traded two horses and a horse cultivator, and paid $255 to boot”

This is our recently restored 1929 Farmall Regular (serial No. 57450) built in March 1929. It’s an original Farmall. It was on display and in the parade at Albany (Minnesota) Pioneer Days September 16-19, 2021. I was the driver.

When the larger Farmall F-30 and the small Farmall F-12 were added, company advertising began referring to the first tractor as “the regular Farmall.” Although the term “Farmall” had been in use among company personnel since 1919, it was not registered until July 17, 1923, and was finally authorized by the Naming Committee on February 5, 1924. In 1924, the Farmall was priced at $950.

The tractor is owned by me and my brother Darrell. Our dad, Leonard Terlisner, bought this used tractor in December 1941, right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He traded two horses and a horse cultivator, and paid $255 to boot.

Loren Terlisner, St. Cloud, Minnesota

Fearless young farmhand makes attempt at riding draft horses

As with virtually all of the articles and stories in Farm Collector, I so enjoyed “Farming with Horses” by Robert N. Pripps, in the January 2022 issue. His account brought back wonderful memories of working with horses, particularly the ‘gentle giant’ draft horses.

I was first exposed to these magnificent critters in the mid-1950s in Shelbyville, Indiana, while in high school when a retired farmer entrusted his retired team of English Shires, Polly and Cinders, to my year-round care: feeding, watering, hoof-trimming, worming, etc. Both stood a good 17 hands, and were a beautiful coal black.

The farmer told me that he would prefer that I not ride them, as they had never been ridden. Well, prefer was the operative word here, which I interpreted as allowing some wiggle room. I loved horses and loved to ride, so one day I made up a simple bridle and reins of sisal baling twine, and climbed aboard the mare bareback. Polly was a gentle soul and willing to go more or less where I guided her at a walk, and at most, an elderly, dignified trot.

During our ride around the farmer’s lands, the gelding, Cinders, followed, highly agitated, snorting and running around us. One would think that this behavior would send a message to any normal person, but my teenage mind never considered the possibilities or potential for a wreck or rodeo.

That is exactly what happened the very instant that I climbed aboard Cinders. He took off in a dead run across the barnyard, narrowly missing a hand pump and stock tank, and through a three-strand barbed-wire fence, which made a loud twang in the form of a triplet note in near perfect harmony in the key of G-major.
Ahead of us was the first of three mature cornfields that we eventually explored at breakneck speed. I only briefly considered bailing out at the very beginning, but atop this thundering beast I thought my best chances for survival, and his, would be to stay aboard and hang on for dear life, talking to him, trying to calm him, and maybe even steer him towards his home turf.

After clearing a one-horse path through the two remaining cornfields, but thankfully no more fences, we eventually returned to the barn, where he slowed, out of breath, lathered and trembling, and I finally bailed off, thankful that neither of us was the worse for wear.

Eighty feet of fence and a long path of destruction through three cornfields were not so lucky, however. Nor was my already meager bank account, which took a hit for the value of corn ruined (although the owners were very generous, allowing me a sort-of premium for the chuckle they got from my escapade, the telling of which became a local story).

I repaired the fence without cost other than to my pride at my poor judgment, although I continued to take pride in my horsemanship, simply by managing to stay bareback aboard a terrified, runaway 2,000-lb. critter through his rampage.

Epilogue: I couldn’t let Cinders go away from this incident thinking whatever he was about being ridden. After a surprisingly short time and a little work, he allowed me to ride him, bareback, with sisal baling twine bridle and reins, content to stay on his own familiar turf, having seen more of the countryside than he, or I, wished.

I have more “adventures with horses” stories from later years on my small mountain ranch here in Montana with my own two heavy draft teams, Jack and Midge, and Bonnie and Sarah, but will save them for another time. Thank you for a fine magazine with wonderful stories and reminiscences, and your guidance and “First Things” thoughts.

Dick Schaus, Kalispell, Montana

Prince Albert tins came in handy off the farm, too

I read with interest Clell Ballard’s article on Prince Albert tobacco tins in the January 2022 issue of Farm Collector. Here in the west, mining claim documents were required to be displayed on the mine site. The document most often was displayed in a Prince Albert can under a stack of rocks. When hiking in the Arizona mountains, an out-of-place stack of rocks is generally a sign that you are on an old claim. If you are lucky, the claim and can will still be there. This photo shows a 1957 claim with its Prince Albert can that I picked up in the mountains in the early 1980s.

David Cave via email

old mining claim letter next to a rusty prince albert tin

Tractors previewed at an evening smoker

I read with interest Clell Ballard’s article “A Long Overlooked Part of Farming Lore” (Farm Collector, January 2022) on tobacco cans and products. In researching my grandfather’s truck and tractor dealership, I came across a newspaper ad inviting local farmers to an “evening smoker.” The ad was in the March 10, 1966, edition. I asked my father what a “smoker” was. He believed it was a farm machinery promotion, demonstration and social event where farmers would bring their favorite cigar and view the latest offerings.

Sure enough, I looked up “smoker” and the American Heritage Dictionary defined it as “An informal social gathering for men.” I always found this fascinating. My grandfather was a bit of a character. He seemed to always have a cigar, pipe or cigarette with him. Sometimes he chewed. Many family pictures found him putting a cigar in the mouth of the latest family toddler.

Of note, the Farmall 656 series was produced from 1965 to 1972. It makes sense that it was being promoted at this 1966 event.

Carl Crabtree, Odessa, Missouri

black and white advertisement for a tractor demonstration

A can of compression from “down under”

Back in the mid-1950s, a tractor mechanic was demonstrating to a young apprentice how to carry out an engine compression test, as it happened, on a Ferguson TEA-20 tractor.

One cylinder was found to be well down on compression. This was explained to the boy, who asked what could be done. “Well,” said the mechanic, “I think it would be best for you to go down to the Ford Agents and ask if they have a spare can of Fordson Major compression that we could top the Fergy up with.”
The apprentice disappeared down the road to the Ford Agents and asked the Spare Parts’ man for a can of Fordson Major compression and explained why he needed it.

“Just hang on a minute,” the man said with a grin. “I’ll just duck out to the workshop and get you some.”

He came back a short time later with a small round can in which spring washers were normally supplied, but with the lid well taped down.

With glee on his face, the boy returned to the workshop and handed the tin to the mechanic. The mechanic took the tin and proceeded to undo the tape.

Unbeknown to the mechanic, the tin contained a well compressed compression spring. The lid, with its sharp edge, flew off, but in doing so, hit the mechanic in the ear, taking a large chunk out of the top of his ear!

One can imagine the talk around the morning tea table the next day, laughter all around, except from the mechanic with a bandaged ear, not saying anything, and the apprentice, who expressed bitterly, “He was just doing what he was asked to do, go and get a can of compression!”

Don Mackereth, Auckland, New Zealand

Article spurs memories of horse-farming days

black and white photo of a man on a horse-drawn combine

I don’t think I yet qualify as an “old timer” per the January 2022 Farm Collector article on “Farming with Horses,” but I do have memories of using Belgian and Percheron horses in the 1950s to ’60s. Dad had a soft spot in his heart for horses so he kept them on his Steele County, Minnesota, farm long after most farmers had gotten rid of their teams. At one time, the barn held six stalls, each for a team of “work” horses as we called them. My older sisters recall that horses were used for everything, including planting and cultivating corn as late as the mid-1940s. They remember the teams at threshing time, pulling the binder and hauling loads of bundles. They also reminisce about the neighborhood threshing crew and all that entailed.

By the 1950s, the barn had been remodeled but still, three stalls remained. Two held teams and the other was for our riding horses. In 1951, dad had purchased a self-propelled combine so no longer worked with the threshing crews. However, the teams were still used to pull grain boxes. In a contrast of old and new, we have a photograph of a team pulling a grain box right alongside the combine.

Horses were still important for the hay harvest. Dad and our uncle each cut hay with the teams. I can recall going out to the hay field with lunch. Mom would bring along pails of water for the horses so they got a break too. Cutting the tall, grassy hay was hard work. The horses also pulled the side rake forming the windrows to be picked up by the hay loader. The loose hay was piled high in three “slings” and then taken back home to the barn. The team straddled the windrow of hay between them so little was lost. The horses worked in the winter as well, just not as regularly or as hard. They pulled a sled wagon loaded with manure out into the field.

Our work horses had a few other duties. They pulled a heavy-duty stone boat which, literally, hauled stones out of the field but was used to move other heavy items around the farm. They performed the domestic chore of tilling the vegetable garden for many years as the cultivator on the tractor was just too big. One of the Belgians was even ridden occasionally. When I had a girlfriend from town come out, we gave “Kate” some extra grooming and off we went; my friend on the work horse and me on my riding horse.

Dad had a way with horses, always taking good care of them. He would run his hands over them, picking up their hooves for examination. He routinely cleaned and trimmed their hooves. He always seemed to know what they needed. By about 1964, the horse-drawn machinery was no longer used. Dad kept the work horses for a time but eventually sold them all. It was the end of the horse era on our farm, but fond memories of Bud, Cub, Dick, Florrie, and especially Kate, linger on.

Colleen Hondl Gengler, Iona, Minnesota

man on a horse drawn load of hay
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