Memories of a War-Time Farm Hand

Discover recollections of war-time farm life, and about the different tractor models, from the John Deere model B to the F-20, that did the job.

| January 2020

As a boy, Wilfrid Vittetoe hauled loads of hay for a neighbor using the neighbor’s Farmall F-20.

In 1943, at age 13, I was helping neighbors. It being wartime, all able-bodied men were off fighting in World War II. In the spring of 1943, after school was out, I helped Norbert Hammes put in crops with the old John Deere Model A hooked to a disc and harrow to get the ground ready to plant corn.

That summer, I helped Chick and Everett Swift make hay. I drove the tractor, pulling the hay rack with the hay loader behind the 16-foot hay rack. Chick was a strong-enough man to load by himself, but if he had help available, two men were on the rack.

I also hauled hay loads from the field to a barn on a hilly dirt road that curved downhill and across a one-lane bridge. I used Everett Swift’s F-20 that had a road gear of about 10 to 12mph. It was always a big deal, but kind of scary with a big load of loose hay swaying behind the tractor.

They hired an old guy to set the fork. Grant W., a classmate of mine, rode old May, a big Percheron mare, to pull hay up into the barn. The long hay rope was threaded through the pulleys up and around the top of the haymow, then down and out the side of the barn to the horse. Everett was in the mow and sometimes I would help in the mow, or work on the rack and set the fork.

Later that summer, the McConnells asked me to help out with cutting oats with the binder. I drove their old John Deere Model B (with a hand clutch) pulling the binder. Old Bill McConnell rode on the old binder, which was originally pulled by a team of horses. The ground-driven bull wheel provided power to operate the implement.


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