Monday, November 14, 2016
Farmall Calendar: "It isn't just about tractors"
Richard Schmitt remembers the first tractor he ever drove.
“My dad started farming in the mid-40s — he had a Farmall F20,” said Schmitt, 82. “I was about 7 years old, and he taught me how to drive it. My dad still had horses, yet I couldn’t drive a horse; the horses he had were kinda wild-like.”
Mechanized farming is such a given now, it might be hard to imagine that once farmers had to be persuaded to use tractors, which were both expensive and dangerous — a new one easily cost a year’s profits, and a quarter of the fatal farm accidents when Schmitt was a young man were caused by farmers being crushed by tractors. That had to be balanced against the ability to pull a bigger plow.
“The horses couldn’t pull the 7-foot plow,” said Schmitt, who lives in Sterling, 100 miles due west of Chicago. “The tractor could pull a 7-foot disc, and the horses could only pull a 4-foot disc.” A bigger plow allowed for a bigger farm, more crops and — in theory — more money. “We were really farming big.”
Now Schmitt owns 750 acres and 58 Farmall tractors, including five featured on the new 2017 Farmall calendar, which arrived on my desk last week, a welcome break from post-election turmoil. It was sent by Dan Herrick, an Oregon photographer with local roots, who works for a variety of websites selling farm equipment, including farmallparts.com.
This is the second year he’s done the calendar.
“My boss told me, ‘I’d love to see a Farmall calendar,'” Herrick remembered. “I said, ‘I know where a whole bunch of them are and can shoot them in their natural environment, all in north central Illinois.'”
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