I am at the age now that if you have attire older than me, your neckties have been in and out of style a time or two and you really need to clean out your sock drawer. That is why I had to slow down and then completely turn around as I passed a 1976 John Deere 4400 combine cutting beans in Bradner, Ohio (Wood County).
After waiting a little while for Carl Bierksheide to make his way back from the far side of the field to the side shared with the road, I was able to jump up into the cab for a looksee and a short visit. Before I even introduced myself I asked him where his buddy seat, fridge and monitor were. He smiled and stuck his hand out and we got to talking about this relic that started working in the field almost 40 years ago, back when the average corn yield was below 90 bushels.
“It does the job,” Bierksheide said. “I often wondered just how well the newer equipment does compared to this one, but I am not leaving much on the ground and she rarely lets me down.”
Carl and his son, Jim, farm about 225 acres and have yet to get started in their corn fields. They’re chomping at the bit to get there though as they are seeing big ears filled all the way to the tips and are anticipating a great year. Already in the beans they are averaging well above 50 bushels to the acre and are pleased with the results so far.
If only combines could talk, this one would tell you just how this family survived the mid-80’s farm crisis, how a father has seen a son follow right along the way he had always hoped and how it has seen the bigger, newer and greener machines pass its farm on State Route 23 looking at them with the same respect they would show this old vet in the same, albeit faded and dustier uniform.