The other day an email was sent to Yorkton This Week with a note about a John Deere 8020 selling in a farm auction near Moosomin recently for $90,000.
The email was interesting on a number of levels, even though it was a rather short note.
To start with it made me realize once again I am getting older.
It is somewhat difficult to come to the realization that tractors from my lifetime are suddenly rare, and in fact are likely antiques.
The John Deere 8020 was one of only 100 manufactured in its day, rolling off the line sometime over the period of 1961 to '63 according to follow-up reports from the sale. The tractor, owned prior to the recent auction by Edmund Pranke, had serial number 14.
The John Deere comes from the era of the earliest four-wheel drive tractors, and was actually the first four-wheel drive articulated tractor.
The articulated technology, the way the tractor can swivel at its centre, is really at the heart of most four-wheel drive units to this day, so it's rather easy to see why the tractor was coveted by collectors.
In this case, amid brisk bidding from those at the sale, and others online, the tractor is headed to the United States.
Now granted the tractor was developed and built in the U.S., but it is also part of Canada's farm heritage, and it is too bad such antiques are lost like this one was.
I look at the Western Development Museum system here in Saskatchewan, and wonder if collecting such antique tractors should not fall under its mandate? Certainly when you attend an event such as the Thresherman's Show and Seniors' Festival held at the WDM in Yorkton, a highlight is seeing the old steam engines which helped open the Prairies moving forward.
Sadly those old steam behemoths are beginning to show their age. In many cases the boilers are no longer safe to operate, and they have been decommissioned. The cost to refurbish the steamers is high, so most have becoming stationary statues, and not operational examples of our farming past.
Those old steam engines bring back a lot of memories for seniors, and even for me, at 50, while too young to have ever worked around one, I remember stories of threshing crews and stooking and steam engines from my Father and Grandfather. So for those my age, and older steam engines hold a high level of interest.
However, moving forward, many will have much less connection to steam-powered farming.
They will however be of the generation of four-wheel drive tractors, and zero-till farming, and axial flow combines.
It will be important for museum collections to focus more attention on the infancy of current farm technologies in order to maintain greater relevancy for those attending museum events.
And, it is also going to be important in the sense of maintaining the continuing timeline of farming. We may not think of rubber-tired tractors as antique, but clearly some of the earliest ones are just that. It will be easier to collect them now, than in another decade, or two.
Just consider for a moment the John Deer 8020 which attracted people from several states not to bid, but merely to see the old tractor. It is too bad that interest isn't drawing people to a Saskatchewan museum in the future.
It is something to think about, how we ensure of more recent farming heritage is protected and preserved here in Canada for our future generations to learn from.