Ferguson Tractor Fulfills the Job

Ferguson tractor at home with American hotel owner in Wales.

| December 2013

  • Nelson outside the Meadowsweet Hotel that he and his wife, Mary, run in the Conwy Valley.
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • Mary and Nelson’s two daughters, Morgan and Madison, on their ponies.
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • A tractor is just the start, of course, because then you start finding implements for it and next thing you know you’re a collector. Nelson wants to use the tractor for its intended purpose, and this harrow is ideal for tearing out moss and spreading the manure that Mary’s horses leave behind.
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • Nelson’s Ferguson three-section folding spike tooth harrow. It’s a good time to buy Ferguson implements. There are plenty in good working order and they are still affordable. Increasing numbers of exhibitors want to display their tractors with an appropriate implement. Ferguson implements are reliable, simple and well capable of a good day’s work.
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • The Ferguson is handy the way it folds up so you can easily get through gateways!
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • The dream machine was a Ferguson tractor — the closest available machine to a Ford 8N. This Fergie is a TEF 20 (TEF is the diesel model). It was one of 204 Ferguson tractors made at the Coventry, England, plant on Aug. 25, 1952.
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • The Meadowsweet Hotel, owned by Mary and Nelson Haerr, in all its rural splendour. The chance to buy the land in front of the hotel was a dream come true for the couple. It meant Mary and the girls could keep horses ... and Nelson could buy himself a little tractor to play, er, work with.
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • Another scene from Nelson’s childhood in Illinois. Here, his aunt is driving another Ford at harvest. I can’t help but feel that Nelson must miss that baking sun!
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr
  • This is the Ford 8N Nelson remembers his father using on the family homestead in Illinois, where they kept horses on livery and grew their own hay. The young Nelson is pictured with his hand in the air; his father is sitting on the ground, resting against the trailer.
    Photo Courtesy Nelson Haerr

This story starts with a young boy called Nelson Haerr who grew up on a 10-acre farm in rural Illinois. Nelson’s father was a doctor but he’d come from a large farm in Missouri so the land was always going to be in his blood.

Practicing medicine was a world away from farming, but Nelson’s father didn’t want to be too far from agriculture because farming meant a lot to him. So the family kept animals and livestock on their 10 acres, plus they kept horses on livery and they made their own hay.

Nelson remembers the tractor his dad bought new in order to run the operation: a Ford 8N with about 11 different implements. As a child, your dad’s tractor is an awe-inspiring machine, but by the time adolescence arrives most kids have other things to think about. Then, at about age 30, it seems we suddenly become just a bit nostalgic about our childhoods, the past and the machines our dads once drove.

When Nelson left rural Illinois, he went to New York City where he worked in bars and became a firefighter. It was a world away from the country life, but he never forgot his roots. As a firefighter in New York you certainly see some sights, from the bright lights to the grim underbelly of the vast city, but nothing was to prepare Nelson for what happened in 2001. Nelson was one of many firefighters who saw firsthand the horrors of the 9/11 tragedy when two towers at the World Trade Center were destroyed in an act of terrorism, killing almost 3,000 people (including 343 firefighters). Nelson’s squad was on its way to the scene when the second tower fell, and the scene he met on arrival was one of unbelievable horror. “It was like arriving on the set of a bad disaster movie, almost unreal,” he recalls.

We all know that firefighters are trained to deal with death and destruction, but no amount of experience can prepare a person for the magnitude of a disaster like 9/11. Every surviving New York firefighter will have known of others who weren’t so lucky. One can easily imagine that the sleepy little Conwy Valley must seem like a gentle breath of fresh air after those monumental experiences.

A hotel in Wales

Whilst living in New York Nelson met his future wife, Mary. Mary is Welsh-born and -bred but was working temporarily in New York when she met the dashing Yank. Nelson and Mary were married in the U.S., but they decided to settle in Mary’s homeland of North Wales. Looking around for somewhere to live, they spotted a hotel for sale in Mary’s hometown of Llanrwst, and it seemed that this hotel might offer the perfect package of home and income in one. They bought the Meadowsweet Hotel and they’ve been there ever since. They’ve built themselves a busy home and work life, running a successful restaurant and a 10-bedroom hotel, and become very much a part of this little community.


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