Family farmers fond of Ford

From our March 2013 issue

By Art Klassen – Portage la Prairie, Man.

The picture of the Fordson tractor on Page 34 of the July 2012 issue reminded me of our Fordson tractors.

In the early 1920s, my parents were living with their parents in Russia. Russia was having war problems and one of them was lack of food in their own country.

There was a crop but all their horses were being used for war purposes and the crop couldn’t be harvested as they had no tractors either.

In the U.S.A. there were relatives of the starving Mennonites who were sending relief parcels to Russia to feed the starving families. This was the start of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Relief Fund.

A delegation was sent to check out the procedure and the members decided that small tractors to replace the lack of horses would be helpful in Russia to harvest their own good crop and feed their starving people.

Back in the United States, Henry Ford was contacted and asked if he could supply the MCC with a good number of his little Fordson tractors for delivering to Russia.

The answer came back that some 90 of those tractors would be donated to MCC for shipment to Russia to help with the harvesting.

Gift was a godsend

This first private gift by Henry Ford of those tractors was a godsend. One of these tractors came to the village of Spat where my folks lived.

My dad and his brothers, as young men, helped to operate this tractor around the clock pulling a binder to help harvest the crop.

These tractors were distributed across the country of Russia.

Then, in 1925, my parents came to Canada, got married and moved to Manitoba to farm.

During that time of farming, dad purchased an older Fordson tractor also and we used it to pull a rebuilt binder-swather too.

In 1948 we purchased one of Henry Ford’s new 8N tractors, still resembling those first old Fordsons and it served very well until retirement.

Henry Ford’s tractors served 2 full generations of our family over some 90 years.

As family we also grew up with the Model-A Ford two-door 1929 family coupe car.

In my lifetime of 84 years which also included ownership of a school bus fleet, there have been numerous Fords also that have served well.

Fordson tractor swathing with a homemade 10-foot swather built from an 8-foot binder.