By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN Jerry Terning of Cokato has “been monkeying with tractors for almost 51 years,” he said. “It’s time to hang up the wrenches.”
The latest stage of his “monkeying around” has been in collecting and restoring old John Deere tractors.
His collection of 38 tractors will be auctioned off Saturday, Aug. 3 at 10 a.m. at Kingston Auto Fast Lube in Cokato.
The date was chosen to try to attract John Deere collectors from all over, since it is during the Wright County Fair, which is featuring John Deere collections this year.
Terning grew up on a farm southwest of Cokato, and then started working at John Deere in Cokato while starting a family.
He eventually decided to give the John Deere tractor company a bit of competition, and opened Mid-State Equipment. There he dealt in Case farm equipment while raising his family children Mike, Julie, and Brian with his wife, Gladys. He sold that business in 1998.
Terning never intended to begin collecting and restoring tractors, but his friends convinced him to buy one at an auction.
When asked why he collects and restores only John Deere tractors, Terning noted, “It’s what I grew up with.”
“Some of my friends give me a hard time that I’m not collecting Case,” he added.
The oldest tractors in Terning’s collection are a 1937 John Deere A and a 1937 John Deere L. His newest tractor is from 1960.
Some of the tractors he has worked on have been pretty nice, and some have required more time and effort to restore, Terning said.
He has not found any of them too difficult to restore, because he’s been around them his whole life and knows how to fix them, he added.
He has never considered it full-time work, but spends a couple days each week working on his tractors.
Many of the tractors have come from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, but some from farther away, Terning said.
He finds most of them through two tractor magazines or at auctions.
All of the tractors have fresh paint and most have new tires, as well, he said.
The next phase of Terning’s life will consist of tackling the “honey-do” list, compiled by Gladys, and spending more time with his children and grandchildren.
“I’m retiring for a second time,” Terning said. “But, if I get too lonesome, I can always buy another [tractor],” he added.