In past issues we’ve featured a variety of machines whose owners liked them so much they refused to part with them. But for John Hardman who farms five and a half quarters of land near Dauphin, Man., it’s not just one machine that has earned his long-term admiration, its most of his farm fleet.
“I still run a lot of older equipment,” he says. “That’s what I like to use. It works for me.”
And the list of older machinery still in regular use on the Hardman farm is pretty long. The oldest tractors date back to the 1940s, with a W-6 International Harvester, Farmall M and Minneapolis-Moline Z. John says he uses the M and Z to pull gravity wagons hauling grain from the combines during harvest. It’s hard to imagine that the dealer who originally sold those tractors back in the day would have ever thought they’d still be working on a farm more than 65 years later.
There is also a 1965 730 Case tractor that was bought new by John’s father and has now logged more than 10,000 engine hours. “I still pull a SeedRite and seed canola with it. But there is no GPS on it,” he says. “I actually direct seeded 80 acres of canola on one tank of fuel with that 730. I’m probably the only guy around here that seeds with an open-cab tractor.”
The 730 isn’t the only family heirloom in the fleet. John says there is still a TO35 Massey-Ferguson and a 2N Ford that were originally owned by his grandfather. And they still see occasional use as well.
One of the larger tractors on the farm is a 4166 IH four-wheel drive. “It’s cheap horsepower. I only paid six grand for it. I put a couple of new tires on it and fixed the drop box. Other than that it runs pretty good.” Although the air conditioner doesn’t work in the cab, which makes it a little less comfortable than a newer tractor. “You just have to take a siesta in the middle of the day when it gets hot,” John laughs.
Many of the tractors in the Hardman fleet have been repainted and had new decals applied, but they are working machines first and foremost. “I could show them, I guess,” says John. “But they’re in their working clothes. I don’t get them too polished up.”
John uses a few different SeedRites in his operation. “I have a bunch of them set up and modified,” he says. “Some are set up for canola, some for flax, some for winter wheat, some I direct seed with and some I still have the rod on.”
John has installed custom-made packer wheels made by Valley Systems in Saskatchewan on one of the SeedRites used in a no-till rotation in place of the rod weeder attachment. “You don’t get a lot of down pressure,” he says. “But I get some pretty good stands with it.” He uses Atom-Jet openers for seeding flax and canola into stubble.
Aside from modifying his older equipment to meet modern demands, John is able to take advantage of cutting edge agronomic practices by hiring a custom applicator to apply some variable rate fertilizer by floating it on. All of which proves there’s more than one way to get the job done! †