Farm Horizons, August 2011

New Germany farmer collects machinery from days gone by

By Starrla Cray

Stepping onto the farm of Alvin Hedtke, one might feel transported to an earlier era – one of steel wheels, non-cushioned seats, and quiet beauty.

“It started when I bought the 10-20,” Hedtke said, referring to his 1930 IHC 10-20 tractor. “That will be 25 years ago this fall.”

Then, in 1987, he purchased a 1936 Farmall F-12, which was recently featured in volume 9 of Iron Memories magazine, a publication of Heartland Communications Group.

According to the article, the Farmall’s engine had been overhauled, and it had been recently repainted. The only parts needing replacement at the time Hedtke purchased it were the fuel pump and muffler pipe.

The front was on rubber, but Hedtke put it back on full steel to keep it original. Built Dec. 1, 1936, the Farmall was one of the first to be painted red. Earlier 1936 F-12s were charcoal gray.

Hedtke added a fresh coat of bright red paint to his F-12 in 2006, to keep it looking sharp.

The same year he purchased the Farmall, Hedtke also bought his one and only antique car, a 1928 Chevrolet.

The car was in decent condition at the time of purchase, but Hedtke said he did make quite a few repairs.

“It runs like a clock, now,” he added.

The teal-colored vintage car is eye-catching everywhere it goes.

“I had it in the parades in Lester Prairie and Mayer,” Hedtke said.

Hedtke also enjoys showing his antiques at the Carver County Fair.

“I usually bring two items,” he said.

In front of his shed, Hedtke has a collection of antique John Deere equipment.

One of them is an antique grass mower he bought from a Lester Prairie resident about five years ago. A four-wheeled steel wheel wagon, from an auction in Belle Plaine, also found a home on Hedtke’s farm.

Hedtke also owns a 1948 M John Deere, which has a relatively modern appearance.

Hedtke’s grandfather, Karl, purchased a single row cultivator new, as well as a 1926 corn planter.

In front of the collection is a “slusher scraper,” circa 1920, which is used for making ditches.

“That my grandpa bought new, too,” Hedtke said.

Other pieces of equipment Hedtke has acquired throughout the years include a hand plow, potato plow, wooden wheel wagon with a double box, Oliver plow, antique cart, and a Minnesota dump rake that was built in about 1945.

Although most of Hedtke’s equipment is for collection purposes only, he used the corn planter until 1968.

“I planted corn with that quite a bit,” Hedtke said. “My dad welded a three-point hitch on that. I never planted with horses, though.”

Hedtke’s grandfather, Karl, emigrated from Germany in the 1870s, and farmed about a half mile from Hedtke’s current property.

“He died before I was born,” Hedtke said. His grandmother, Elizabeth, was alive until 1964.

Hedtke’s father, Fred, farmed at the home place, and was married to Aletta, who came to America from Germany in 1920.

Years ago, Hedtke milked cows, and later raised steers. Now, he is semi-retired and farms 75 acres of beans and 73 acres of corn.

Hedtke and his wife, Shirley, have three adult daughters, Nancy Loehrs, Shireen Kahler, and Michelle Leisen.

“Each of them have two children, so I have six grandchildren – five boys and one girl,” Hedtke said.

Hedtke said his grandchildren enjoy looking at the old-fashioned machinery. “I gave my granddaughter a ride on the tractor,” he added.

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