A Farmer & his Tractor

Uncategorizedon April 2nd, 20094 Comments

Stephen Skibinski was my grandpa. A stoic man of Polish heritage. He had an enormous farm outside of Grand Island, Nebraska where he grew corn, barley and wheat. He had many horses and legend has it that he had the largest Pinto farm in the nation. So big that Ford was going to film the original Pinto commercial on his farm until a snowstorm changed the plans. He also had cattle, pigs, chickens, a large farmhouse and a towering barn. A kids dream.

When I was young, we would spend summers there. I was often put to work around the farm and in the fields. I most clearly remember helping lay new irrigation pipes, baling hay and plowing fields. I recall a time that my Grandpa tried to teach me how to drive a tractor. A vivid memory because this was a big responsibility. The tractor was an Allis Chalmers model. I believe it was this model; the WD.

Allis Chalmers WD

Allis Chalmers WD

My grandpa had two tractors. The Allis Chalmers model was the smaller and quicker tractor used for light jobs. He also had a John Deere. This was the big and powerful tractor for the serious farm work.

I remember our conversation, my grandpa and me, that sunny Nebraska day while he was showing me around the deep red Allis Chalmers. He was reviewing how to shift and work the clutch. I was probably 7 or 8 years old and had NO idea what he was talking about. I pretended to understand.

He didn’t normally display much passion for his tractors. But I do recall something that he said during that same conversation. His voice trailed off, he got a sparkle in his eye and he revealed his desire for a new John Deere Combine. He didn’t go into detail, he never did, but he said that he really would like one of those.

To know my grandpa he was certainly not status-minded. The John Deere products were considered to be powerful and dependable. They were certainly more expensive. And yet this green and yellow work of American ingenuity was not just a simple farm machine, it was a symbol that he had arrived. That he had achieved a level of success and could be proud. 

This is one of my earliest memories of the power of a brand. That John Deere had captured this farmers imagination.


John Deere 720

 John Deere has gone on to become one of the great global brands. The signature green and yellow color scheme has become so attached to the brand that you could see just these two colors together and think of John Deere. To their credit, they have used this consistently since the 1920′s. Consistency is the bedrock foundation of a brand.


John Deere ad from the 1920's (courtesy of antiquefarming.com)

 What is also remarkable is that this consistency also applies to their logo. Here is a random sampling of the John Deere logo starting in, get this, 1876!


John Deere logo from 1876


John Deere logo 1968

John Deere logo 1968


John Deere logo today

Notice that the earlier deers were in their “landing” stride and the new adaptation is “leaping” showing progress and forward energy. A wonderful touch that is still consistent with the brands history. All adorned with the tagline “Nothing runs like a Deere.” They don’t get much better than that.

John Deere & Company has grown far beyond its agricultural roots to include residential, commercial, golf, construction, forestry and beyond. They even have significant and collectible toy following. Always a good sign when kids want to buy toys of your products. All in green and yellow! 

I’m not sure what happened to the Allis Chalmers company. It certainly has a fond place in my heart. But it’s clear today, as it was back then, nothing runs like a Deere.

(special thanks to antiquefarming.com for the images and historical information)

4 Responses to “A Farmer & his Tractor”

  1. Thiago Korsakoff says:

    Excellent post.
    Certainly John Deere is “the mark when it comes to tractors and machinery for the field. In my farm, near San Francisco, we have two of them. The most interesting is that they created a brand. Today we see people with hats, shirts, toys, finally, a multitude of items that takes the name John Deere. I even got a shirt and a cap, which it a site for auction.

  2. associatedpowertrain says:

    This was an AWESOME article! Great images. We work with a lot of Allis Chalmers equipment and parts.

  3. used agricultural tractors says:

    Ah…tractors,, brings me back to whenI was young, when I was young I lived over a farm where all the tractors had been green. I like Jd but for some cause I’ve usually liked Farmall. Anyawy I am starting to daydream now…great post I have provided it a DIGG.Com for you personally.

  4. traktori says:

    Owned a John Deere for 22 years, best machine on the farm