Bench seats and tiny barn-shaped calendars stuck to the dash feel like a blast from the past if you’re a farmer older than your 20’s. Everyone knew where dad’s parking spot was because there were little flakes of rust on the ground (and the jack probably wasn’t far away)! You always knew when he was arriving home because the truck never ran too quietly.
Old farm trucks with rust and dents and different colored doors carry the most memories — not because they were ugly looking or loud, but because they probably brought home your first 4-H heifer, was the first thing you drove, and maybe you jack-knifed it once or twice too!
For my family, the old farm trucks carried the most memories!
When I was little my dad bought a junker truck that someone had started to prime. The truck was half blue, half brown … split right down the middle! I used to climb on top to organize my collections of the day: rocks, snail shells, or other things little farm kids like to collect! Why did I climb on top? I couldn’t tell you, but I’m sure I had a good reason at the time!
That truck had its bed filled with nothing but chickens come fair time, and luckily we had a truck to borrow to pull the trailer! I’ll never forget my mom saying, “We’re turning right, hold the door,” for what felt like weeks until my dad screwed in a door latch!
We raised our show calves at home, so often the first glimpse we had of our new calves was in the back of the truck.
It was a surprising first look, indeed!
My dad’s trucks aren’t the only ones that carry memories for us. My grandfather, Larry, was a dairy farmer by day and poet by night. He loved to write and was very witty. He was so good that the pastor at church asked him for the sermon once in a while.
My grandpa bought his proudest truck in February of 1971, the same day that my mom was born. My mom is the first of six girls, and they all drove that truck as their first.
For a family who loved that truck so much, I don’t know how they got away without any pictures of it. But my grandpa wrote a poem about it, which is one that everyone treasures.
My grandpa titled the poem Almost Human, which you’ll agree is perfect if you grew up with a special farm truck. You not only create your childhood memories in them, but they carry a lot of them home too — like your car-sick dog that isn’t allowed in the family van anymore, or the injured calf your sister wants to nurse to health in the backyard.
Twas back in the year of ’71, I bought a new truck, a Ford by gum.
A four wheel drive that stood tall and black, was quiet and shy, but with a real strong back.
On the day of delivery we were in such a flutter, Twas the very same day of our first baby daughter.
With my wife in the hospital, and me doing chores, the snow was a falling all over outdoors.
The driveways were plugged, a lot of roads too, but the snow kept coming and oh how it blew!
Now after a while, and a bit of good luck, we finally got out to get our new truck.
It’s hauled people and horses and cows and hogs. Some wood, some potatoes, some cats and some dogs.
Now we’ve used and bruised, misused and mistreated, but it’s still going strong and it can’t be beated.
In the neighborhood here where we lived so long, the people who know it think it’s sweet as a song.
It’s worn out two backs, and a whole lot of tires, and I really don’t think it’ll ever retire.
So we’ve driven the old Ford, since that wonderful year, we’ve got five more daughters, and shed many a tear.
There’s been a few times when we’ve jacked the old Ford, but it keeps coming back, thank the dear Lord.
If it ever gives up, to be driven no more, it’ll always live on in our minds as before,
A better truck there’ll never be, because all six girls think it’s part of the family.
So here’s an ode to the old farm trucks, the bench seats and itchy saddle blanket seat covers, and the numerous snacks that fell between the cracks! They don’t run the best, but they’ll live on in our hearts, and most of them (including Grandpa’s ’71 Ford) are probably still hanging out in the hedgerows.
Elizabeth Maslyn is a born-and-raised dairy farmer from Upstate New York. Her passion for agriculture has driven her to share the stories of farmers with all consumers, and promote agriculture in everything she does. She works hard to increase food literacy in her community, and wants to share the stories of her local farmers.