Russ' Vintage Iron

Readers Share Stories About Their Farmall Tractors

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
Connect with Russ:
This 1947 Farmall Cub was bought new by Henry Rath and is a multigenerational tractor currently owned by Henry's grandson, Tyler Rath, of Belgrade, Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Rath)

Last month, I wrote about 2023 marking the 100-year anniversary of the name "Farmall." That now-famous name was on International Harvester (IH) tractors beginning in 1923 and remaining there for nearly half a century. Since 2004, the Farmall name has also been on a series of utility tractors.

I was curious to hear some Farmall stories from our readers, and we had a couple of responses to last month's column.

Here is one of those:

"I have a 1948 Farmall M. I had an IH H I farmed with for 25 years. When I retired, I found my dream tractor -- an IH M.

"I took the tractor down and had every piece on my shop floor. It is fully restored now, and it is better than it was new." -- Tom D.

My thanks to Tom D. for this short story about his Farmall M. I am a green guy, but the Farmall M certainly does have a soft spot in my heart.

Here is another Farmall story we received:

"My name is Tyler Rath. I am a third-generation farmer and currently own and operate Rath Farms in Belgrade, Minnesota.

"I have a story to add for your multigenerational Farmall article. Two machines, in fact, are relevant.

"My grandfather, Henry Rath, bought a Farmall Cub brand new in 1947. My dad kept it through his farming career, and we still have the Cub today. It was repainted back in 2000. This was the first tractor I learned how to drive.

"The first tractor my mom and dad bought together after they were married and farming together was a 1969 Farmall 856. My parents handed the 856 down to my wife and I last year. We will be overhauling this tractor for the second time later this year.

"I spent many hours in this tractor as a kid and teenager learning to drive. I even have a picture of my oldest son, who will be the fourth-generation farmer on our farm, riding in and driving the 856.

"My wife and I plan to hand these tractors down to our kids one day if they decide to farm. This would make the tractors third- and fourth-generation tractors on Rath Farms.

"Although these two tractors do not accumulate many hours anymore, we enjoy being able to keep the legacy alive of the generations before us. We use them as a way to remind us of how times and equipment have changed since our operation started.

"Thank you for the consideration of my article." -- Tyler Rath, Rath Farms, Belgrade, Minnesota

A big thanks goes out to Tyler for taking the time to send us his story about not only one but two family tractors. The stories about the Farmall Cub and 856 are extremely interesting.

I know I have written this before (probably several times over the years) but having multiple-generation tractors and other farm machinery is what vintage farm machinery is all about. While the previous generations of your family are no longer here, the tractors they operated on their farms should be looked at as extremely special.

Not everyone who grew up on a farm will agree with this emotional sentiment toward machinery, and that is perfectly OK. Heck, there are even members of my own extended family who have sold their dad's/grandpa's tractors without hesitation after they had passed away.

To me, however, the ability to sit in the same tractor seat and operate the same tractor my grandpa did more than a half of century ago is something that is priceless to me. When one of my kids drives our John Deere 620, which was my grandpa's last tractor, that makes the fourth generation of our family to operate the 66-year-old tractor.

Not every family can say that.

Do you have a multiple-generation tractor or tractors in your operation like Tyler? Do you have some interesting story about this tractor?

Please send me your Farmall stories, and we will run them in future columns. I look forward to seeing what fascinating Farmall stories we can tell.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN