At farm auction, tractors trace family memories
WORTHINGTON -- Evert and Ada Uit de Flesch's pasture that borders the family farm in rural Worthington was full of tractors and farm items on Tuesday afternoon as the Uit de Flesch family prepared to host an auction Wednesday.
Numerous tractors were sold, including about 25 tractors that belonged to Evert and Ada's son, Gary, who described tractor collecting as "something that gets in your blood."
"I brought the first one home in 1972," he said. "My dad and I kind of worked on these tractors. There were three we had in the Turkey Dad parade for a couple years, but we had more aspirations than we had time."
The rest of the items belonged to Evert and Ada, and 59 years after they bought the farm, many of the pieces hold stories and memories for the family.
On Tuesday afternoon, five of Evert and Ada's six children -- Vern, Janet (Huls), Don, Gary and Joyce (Reed) -- reminisced about some of the pieces that would be sold the next day. Evert and Ada's youngest son, David, was driving from Michigan to Minnesota for the sale.
"That's the first tractor that my Dad bought," Vern said, gesturing to an old John Deere from 1944.
"The tractor hardly ever saw rain. The tractor was always in the shed. If it got caught in the rain, it was unexpected. He planted corn, cultivated, cut hay and raked hay with that tractor," Gary added, as his brother, Don, drove the almost 70-year-old tractor down to the pasture and lined it up with the others.
Also on the sale was a 1948 John Deere "A" tractor Evert bought in 1951.
"He traded that unstyled 'A' and a two-row cultivator, and I think they gave him $675 for his tractor and cultivator that he traded in," Vern said.
Another tractor on the sale was one that Vern bought and eventually sold to his father.
"There's one out there that I bought when I was in high school. That's a 1943 'A.' That one I bought in high school, and I traded Grandpa's unstyled 'B' for because I wanted a bigger tractor -- I wanted to plow," said Vern.
Each of the siblings mentioned items on the sale they hoped to take home with them, including that first tractor Vern bought.
"Hopefully, I'll take it home. I bought it once, I guess I can do it again," he said.
The siblings said their father kept most of the items that would be auctioned on Thursday under a roof when they weren't in use.
"If he needed more room, he made a bigger shed," Don explained.
"Or built a new one," Joyce added.
Another piece on the auction that had been in the family for many years was a 2 horsepower Cushman engine.
"That was made in the '50s, late '40s and that was made by Soderholm Manufacturing, and it was on a sprayer," Don explained.
"We couldn't find that motor for a while. It was stuck away in a shed behind some wood," Gary added.
In fact, during the monthlong preparation for the auction, there have been a lot of unexpected finds.
"We kept finding things we didn't know were here," Janet said.
"A lot of it, we don't know what it is, though!" Joyce added.
Evert, 89, and Ada, 88, now live at Golden Horizons in Worthington, and when Ada came out to the farm on Monday, even she couldn't believe the number of items on the sale, Vern said.
Also on the auction bill was a baler Evert bought in 1957.
"That was a big deal. I remember we pulled that baler home from Worthington behind the pickup," Gary said.
Before the baler, the Uit de Flesch sons put up a lot of their hay by hand, or Evert would hire a custom baler.
Not to be left out, Janet and Joyce quickly chimed in that they both helped with the baling.
"It was as hot as it is today sometimes," Joyce said.
Growing up on the farm, the Uit de Flesch siblings each have stories to tell about mistakes made.
"I was dragging in fifth gear, and it had those stands there, and I thought I'd just pull the clutch and jump off," Gary remembered, "Well, I jumped off before I pulled the clutch!
"I got away from the drag of the tractor, and here the tractor is going off on its own, and I had to run after the tractor!"
Gary learned his lesson, and after that he always made sure to pull the clutch.
Gary wasn't the only one to get into trouble while working on the farm.
"One time I was out there raking hay, and (Evert) came out there, and I wasn't making those corners quite the way I was supposed to," Vern said. "I was watching behind me, and the next thing, I crashed her down in the creek. One wheel stayed up on top, and the other wheel was in the water. I quick shut it off and thought, 'I gotta go home but I don't wanna."
Growing up in rural Worthington, the six Uit de Flesch children learned ingenuity and creativity from their parents, and many of the things used on the farm they made themselves.
"That trailer there, my dad and his dad made that. I don't know what year, but the bottom of it is from a '28 Model 8 Ford, and they made the box for it, and I can remember them going to town with beans in there," Vern said.
The family even made their own gates using three steel wheels after they removed the hubs and straighten the wheels.
The siblings described their childhood as that of "a typical farm family," and there was a lot of laughter as they shared stories about their earlier years.
After telling a story that left his siblings chuckling, Gary said with a smile, "I remember those times."
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.