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A Tractor Tale


Ken on his 1952 Cat D-2, summer 1985.
Ken on his 1952 Cat D-2, summer 1985.

When we bought our ranch in 1983 and decided to plant grapes, I needed a tractor. Well, there was a "dead" tractor resting under a tree. It didn't run but I told myself, "I can fix this thing" and I did. It was a 1937 Allis Chalmers Model M - a real antique. It ran on kerosene. I worked on it for several weeks before I got it running. It had a hand crank to fire it over, like the old Ford Model T cars. The satisfaction of finally hearing it run after so many years was music to my ears!


I farmed with the '37 Allis Chalmers for several years. It was a beast to run; a rough ride to say the least. However, it did the job. I didn't care. I was young and couldn't afford a new tractor. But at the end of the day, the Model M came through and we planted the grapes! Now I look back at those first few years and smile. Made it work, and got it done.


After 3-4 years of farming with the Model M, it got too hard to drive. So I retired it and purchased a 1952 Caterpillar D-2 in the summer of 1985. I bought it from a fellow grape grower in Los Carneros. The Cat D-2 is the best tractor ever made, ask any old tractor guy and he'll say the same thing. In fact, the Cat D-2 still runs today. It's my back-up tractor. I haven't used it for months, but I know it'll start right up when I need it. I'll drink to that....Elkhorn Peak of course!

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