We’re test-driving a vehicle at the mo. Not a brand new Lamborghini, sad to say, but a 50 year old Mc Cormick Farmall Intenational 265 tractor. These were churned out in large quantities between the 1920s and 1970s as a sensibly priced, all purpose tractor aimed at medium-sized family farms. They could do enough of the tasks needed on the farm to reduce the reliance on hired hands, not to mention horses or mules. Farmalls were prominent in trend toward mechanising agriculture.
There are hundreds of old tractors to be seen in the farms of Creuse. I much prefer these to the increasingly enormous and powerful new ones that hurtle along the country lanes round here, completely filling them. Some are so wide that the tyres are on both grass verges. Not much room for other road users.
This could be tractor number 4. Tractor number 1, Rusty, was this tractor’s sibling, and the first one we bought. It was brilliant, but suffered what we’ll tactfully call antifreeze deficiency problems one winter and came to an untimely end. So we got a second tractor, which Rors named Sea Blue. This is a Fordson Dexta, a very compact but tough machine. These were only produced for seven years between 1957 and 1964. Ours is the same age as me. It’s nippy, and apart from an unfindable fuel leak and the tendency for its steering to freeze up in winter, it’s been a great investment.
Tractor number 3 was another Mc Cormick, a totally rusted up wreck that we bought for a few hundred euros as we were told the engine block was fine and so we could put it onto Rusty and get him going again. Well, it wasn’t do we didn’t. That tractor was taken off for scrap a few months ago.
And now we have prospective tractor number 4 sat outside. We’ve had a spin around the farm in it. What I like about the Mc Cormick’s is the passenger seat above the left rear wheel. It’s metal, of course, and destroys your backbone as you bounce around it, but it’s brilliant. So we’re trying to decide if we really need a second tractor. It’s bigger and more powerful than Sea Blue, and with old tractors, you never know what’s going to go wrong next, so if you have two, the likelihood is that at least one of them should be working at any time. If we can get the price down a bit, I think Didier has got himself a deal … especially as it comes with a free, ancient benet (metal storage/carrying box)!