Our Rural Roots

I Still Ride the New Breed of Deere

Blogger Jennifer Campbell shares when her love for vintage John Deere snowmobiles first started. (DTN photo by Jennifer Campbell)

When you grow up on a farm that runs green, and your Dad owned a John Deere dealership, the odds are stacked that you'll be a lifelong fan. Luckily, I married into a green family, as well.

But I'm not here to talk tractors. I'm here to proclaim my love for vintage John Deere snowmobiles and for the era when Deere and Company ventured into winter sports.

This passion started the Christmas Eve my grandparents gifted our family snowmobile helmets. At the time, it was slightly confusing because we had no need for helmets, but the next morning we discovered John Deere snowmobiles sitting just beyond the patio doors in fresh fallen snow.

Some of my best growing-up memories are of riding with family and friends in our cattle pasture and across fields -- taking turns driving or being towed behind on the inner tube praying you weren't thrown off. We warmed by the big bonfire Dad built while drinking Mom's hot chocolate.

Three years ago, on a snowy Christmas morning, my husband, Chris, gifted me a new helmet. And, restoring memory to reality was a pristine 1980 John Deere Sportfire sitting outside on freshly fallen snow.

This will be our third year hauling vintage snowmobiles to Michigan. We ride miles and miles through the Manistee National Forest on well-groomed trails. While those old commercials showed the amazing ability of the snowmobiles in fresh powder, it's not really their strong suit.

I won't lie, running "vintage" isn't easy; but luckily, I gave birth to a John Deere tech and an excellent mechanic, who also loves those old snowmobiles. Our family now owns four of them.

Nostalgia over practicality may not be my most endearing quality, but like the old marketing campaign, I still proudly "ride the new breed of Deere."


Jennifer (Jent) Campbell negotiates slippery slopes from an Indiana family farm, where she writes a blog called Farm Wife Feeds (www.farmwifefeeds.com). Follow her on Twitter @plowwife and on the podcast @girlstalkag