Rural Missouri - January 2013 - (Page 36)

N E I G H B O R S No strangers to hard work lot has changed since Ned and Berry Azdell’s family first moved to the area north of Mexico, Mo., in 1929. Route J was a dirt road then. Farmsteads dotted the area, and horses working the fields were more common than tractors. Today the road is paved, and the wary look twice before crossing it due to the high-speed traffic. Tractors pulling cultivators so wide they take up both lanes share the road with 18-wheelers and lumbering combines. Farms have gotten larger, and the houses the brothers knew from their youth have been razed in an attempt to farm from horizon to horizon. If there’s one constant left for the two Consolidated Electric Cooperative members, it’s a pair of tractors that brought them into farming more than 60 years ago. Ned and Berry restored their first tractors to near original condition. “I got that right after the second world war,” says Ned, 83, of his 1947 John Deere Model A. “They were just getting back into building machinery.” Berry, 14 months younger than Ned, takes up the story in a way only brothers who have spent a lifetime together can. “You had to have your name on a list for a year before you could get one,” he says. “They were putting everything into building tanks. You couldn’t get a tractor.” Ned had just graduated from high school and was starting his own farming operation after working for his dad. Desperate for a tractor, he went to a demonstration put on by an implement dealer, Pete Erdel, from nearby Rush Hill. “You were probably there with me and Dad,” Ned says to his brother as the story continues. “They had this tractor out there on Byrns’ farm demonstrating it. They took us out there, and when we came back I said, ‘Why can’t you just sell me that one?’ Old Pete said, ‘Well, I guess I could.’ I drove that thing home that night. I was so proud to get it.” Ned paid around $1,800 for the hand-clutch tractor, but he can’t recall if that included the three-bottom plow and the two-row cultivator. Berry wouldn’t get his tractor for another 10 years. That’s because the Korean War erupted, and both brothers joined the service. In 1957, Berry bought his tractor — a Ford 960 — from Day Implement in Perry. “I got my tractor and wife the same year,” he says with a chuckle. “I got my tractor, plow and cultivator for $2,830. And it might be interesting to note, back there in ’57, wheat was $1.57 a bushel. I sold my beans for $3.90 a bushel. I sold fat cattle for $121.38 a head. I sold my fat hogs for $39.30 a head.” The Ford, which originally ran on propane, proved to be a good tractor. “They were powerful little tractors,” Ned, the John Deere man, grudgingly admits. “Yeah, as long as you used their own equipment,” Berry relates of the Ford, which mounted implements between the front and rear wheels. “If you used some pull-type equipment, you didn’t get along very good. ” Ned and Berry had an older brother, Dozier, who died in 1992. Dozier bought a Minneapolis- A by Jim McCarty Ned and Berry Azdell kept themselves and their tractors in good condition Brothers Ned, left, and Berry Azdell spent a lifetime farming the fertile soil north of Mexico, Mo. The two have restored their first tractors, a 1947 John Deere Model A for Ned and a 1957 Ford 960 for Berry. changed,” Ned says with a shake of his head. Moline Model Z to tend his crops. With three difThose changes included the arrival of electricferent brands of tractors, a little rivalry developed. ity from Consolidated Electric. While the brothers “Yeah, we thought we were big stuff,” Ned can’t recall exactly when electricity first arrived, says. “We all had three-bottom plows. We tried to they do remember their mother putting them to keep up with each other pretty well.” bed with a coal oil lantern for light. Says Berry, “We didn’t like anyone to run any Berry became a member of the cooperative’s faster than us. One of us might cheat by raising board of directors in the 1980s. “I’ve served on his plow up a little.” several boards, and it’s the best board I’ve ever The brothers were no strangers to tractors. been on,” he says. “It was a managing board. You Their father started farming with horses, but got some teeth in it. Any other board, you are just switched to a John Deere Model D. Later, he there as a novelty more than anything else.” moved to a Case Model CC with steel wheels. In the early 1990s, the brothers stepped aside “Us kids were too little, all we did was ride to let the next generation farm the land, some of with him,” Ned recalls of the early tractors. which has been in the family for more than 100 “That old D John Deere had big wide fendyears. Still parked inside were the two tractors ers on there, and we would ride on it and jump that got them started. off the side,” Berry adds. “It just poked along. It Ned lovingly dismantled his John Deere, wouldn’t move any faster than a grinding the valves, adding new piston rings team of horses.” and replacing other parts that had worn out Cultivating was done more often Mexico over the years. Berry found his Ford in with a horse than a tractor, the broth• need of little besides a paint job. ers recall. One rainy year, the three Today, the tractors and the men who boys joined their father in a 12-acre operated them can be found at area field, hoeing corn. By the time they got events such as the Mexico Soybean to the last row, weeds again had sproutFestival. ed where the work began. “That’s about the only time they “If you had 50 acres of corn, that was a big crop,” Ned says. “Because you had to pick it get run,” Ned says. “Awhile back, I pulled mine out and did a little bit of raking with by hand. It would take all winter to pick it someit. Of course, it beat me to death. The ride is no times.” comparison to the newer tractors.” “Heck yeah,” Berry adds. “The snow, the mud. “Oh heavens, mine hasn’t done any work for Your hands got cold. The corn would go down in I don’t know how long,” Berry says of his Ford. the snow. Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, “We’ll probably have them until the day we die. I you always knew where you were gonna be.” wish I had kept every tractor I owned.” “People can’t imagine how things have 36 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2013

Rural Missouri - January 2013
Table of Contents
Turning disabilities into abilities
Aiming to win
Out of the Way Eats
Missouri snapshots
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s first raid
Around Missouri
No strangers to hard work

Rural Missouri - January 2013