Ferguson Tractor Fulfills the Job

Ferguson tractor at home with American hotel owner in Wales.


| December 2013



Meadowsweet Hotel

Nelson outside the Meadowsweet Hotel that he and his wife, Mary, run in the Conwy Valley.

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.