Our tractors through the years

At our home we had an average mixed farm of about 20 ha, mainly lean sandy soil. My father mined a large part of it in the years 1933 to 1938. We had a servant and a maid who helped out in the fields and in the house.

The land was worked with a horse and if there was very hard work, a horse was borrowed from the neighbors for a few days. This was also the case the other way around. It was also the same with certain machines, such as seeder, mower, potato harvester, etc.

In the 1950s, many farmers emigrated because there were few prospects for the future, it was thought. Piet Boonen from Grubbenvorst is one of them. He went to Brazil with his family. In addition to being a farmer, Piet was also a technical genius. After the war, he had made a tractor from a GMC truck left behind by the British. Above all, the thing ran fast. Of course, he couldn’t take it with him to Brazil.

My father thought he had to go along with the speed of the nations and bought that thing, if I remember correctly, for 250 guilders. My eldest brother soon learned to ride it, he was 15 or 16 years old. As a 13-year-old, I could occasionally work with the horse and then the servant could leave.

The era of tractors had also entered us and we couldn’t get rid of it. That GMC wasn’t that great in the end, no PTO shaft and no linkage etc.

After a nephew who was on holiday almost had an accident with it, he had to leave.

It was replaced by a big old blue Ford Major. Three-speed. Third gear was a kind of overdrive, then he almost took off. It still had to be started on petrol, but the engine continued to run on petrol. With wire, hammer and pincers you always got it to run, but no lifting device etc.

It became more and more professional. There was a green Güldner. The Güldner did fine, it had a manually operated linkage. In the meantime, the contours of a rain installation began to emerge. This would be a great improvement. Grass, sugar beets, potatoes and so on now grew on that meagre sandy soil.

The pump had to be driven by the tractor or a stationary engine. We didn’t have electricity in 1957. The Güldner did not have enough horsepower for this.

So a new tractor came in that could handle the water pump.

A yellow Kramer. Great tractor that has served for years. Because the water was deep, we had to put the tractor in a hole to get the water up.

My father and eldest brother worked most of the time with the tractors, I worked more often with the horse. By the way, that rain installation was laborious. There were no big reels, like now. If it was very dry, one person had to move the pipes every 3 hours. No aluminium but galvanised tubes of 6 meters long.

It was hard work to lug it through the crops.

After my military service, I didn’t work from home anymore, my brother took over the company.

Jan Huys