Warren Neal as a young man on an old McCormick-Deering tractor with lug wheels, Dallas County, Iowa, on his dad’s farm northeast of Dexter.


Farmall F-20

An old red F-20 is among my earliest farm memories. Sometimes it was my job to scrape mud off the cultivator sweeps or shovels while Dad came in for midday dinner–south of Dexter.

Ours was never this bright, so I’ll bet Dad bought it used after WWII.
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Cultivator sweeps or shovels are those diggers mounted onto the tractor.

Dad’s F-20 later became the power for the elevator to run bales of hay up and into the haymow of the barn.

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Picture rectangular bales of hay marching up an elevator like this one, with my sister and me at the top with hay hooks to haul them off. Dad or Uncle Bill had to stack them.
hay hook


Massey Harris


Dad had a red Massey-Harris tractor for a long time, but he brother Bill started buying John Deeres. Uncle Bill would even leave our place with two and three wagons hooked on behind. He was tall and slim and usually wore an engineer’s cap–and he stood on the tractor as he drove the parade out of the barnyard and down the gravel road. I can still hear his “Johnny-Popper” and still enjoy hearing that sound.

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Uncle Bill headed north on Creamery Road pulling his pickup and two wagons! Fall 1970.
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There are four tractors in this picture. One is behind the wagon, pulling a disc. One is pulling the wagon, with one with a cab right behind it. To the right is another one with probably a seeder attached. Uncle Bill (Willis) is on the left, then Clyde Brooks, then Dad (Warren).
Fall1974 (3)
Dad got so tired and dirty driving a tractor all day, but enjoyed coming in for a cold Coca Cola.

John Deere

Dad eventually switched to John Deere and finally got a tractor with a cab.




My husband also grew up on a farm. Here is he on his favorite Fordson tractor.

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Guy Kidney, near Glidden, Iowa.

Now he rides a Vulcan Voyager!

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I’m rarely around tractors anymore, but I do enjoy seeing the ones at the Iowa State Fair that the FFA and 4-H kids restored as projects.


  1. Boy, did this photo essay bring back memories of growing up in dairy country in Vermont! I found the picture of your dad with his Coca Cola very moving. It perfectly captures how hard the work was at that time.

  2. I enjoyed reading this. We had a McCormick-Deering tractor as well as a Massey-Harris, and a Ferguson – all ancient and had to be constantly restored. My father would have loved to own a John Deere – alas, this was never to be!

    • Now we just enjoy them at the Iowa State Fair. Iowa has some “tractor-cades” every year. I’d love watching one sometime–dozens of tractors (especially older ones) driving by).

  3. I greatly enjoy all of your stories Joy! On my grandpa’s farm there was an IHC 20 that had been run off into a gully when it had outlived it’s usefulness. Grandpa gave me a box of wrenches and let me tear it down so I could stay busy, and it was educational. In the process I must have disturbed some wasps because they stung the heck out of me. Baking soda paste was the treatment. My cousins and I, and the neighbor kids, had a friendly, running, taunting relationship in regard to tractors. They owned John Deere’s. But I still love hearing the put, put, put of those two cylinder Deere’s!

  4. I’m 68 soon to be 69, raised on a farm where $7,000 a year was an income that provided us what we needed for a family of five and enough work for everybody and them some. We gardened and raised chickens, beef and hogs, milked cows and separated to get the cream which gave us a trickle of money through out the year. Dairy farmers were everywhere then, now with only nine milking herds left in the county the likelihood of seeing the dairy end as a business is all but here. Three years of waiting for the market to make a come back will probably bankrupt those who remain. Makes one wonder just what the hell happened!

    • Dad didn’t want cows to milk or chickens running around! He raised beef and pork, corn, soybeans, alfalfa. I was the only girl in my high school class to miss school to help dad sew oats and grass seed, but I manned the hopper instead of driving tractor. Dad’s brother sold milk, lived 3 miles away (shorter as the crow flies). And here this farm girl doesn’t tolerate dairy anymore, but my husband makes up for it!

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