A Matter of Integrity

5 Apr

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

A Matter of Integrity

                A while back, our son Joshua got the fever.  At first it wasn’t too bad, but as time went on it went from bad to worse.  There were times when we tried to cure it, that he improved, but in time it would always come back worse than what it had been before.  As a father, I did everything I could to help my son get through it without getting burned badly.  That can be a real challenge at times though.  It took a lot of time and patience to get him through it and successfully cured.

What is this fever you ask?  It’s a thing young farm boys get and the only way to cure it is by them buying a tractor!  It’s also known as, “Tractor Fever.”  And it isn’t always boys that get it either, sometimes grown men can get extremely bad cases of it!  It has to be treated very carefully.  Many people have made very bad deals on tractors that later on they’ve regretted.

Joshua wanted to buy an old Farmall tractor to use on the farm here.  I was really glad that he liked the same kind of tractors that I do.  I laid down a couple of rules concerning purchasing a used tractor.  One was that it had to be in good working condition.  That can be a challenge when the tractor we’re looking for will be forty to sixty years old!  A second condition was that it had to be big enough to really be useful on our farm here.

Over the years, Joanne would notice many small old Farmall tractors that had been restored to like new condition and think they were so cute!  Of course, Joshua took a great interest in them too.  My reply would be, “They’re nice, but they’re not for us because they’re too small.  You can hardly use them for anything on our farm.”

Joshua agreed to my two conditions.  Another thing was he wasn’t ready to buy a tractor all by himself.  I could well understand that.  So after talking it over, we came to the agreement that we would each own fifty percent of the tractor.  That made him really happy.  He was very confident that I wouldn’t buy a bad tractor or make a bad deal.  It took a lot of pressure off of him.

So we started scanning the newspapers for a good tractor to buy.  Every week we would check them along with all the auction bills.  We came across a few possibilities that sounded good.  When we came across one I would immediately call the owner up and ask him a long list of questions I had concerning the tractor.  Usually he would answer my questions assuring me that the tractor was in excellent shape – not a thing wrong with it.  So with that, we would set up a time convenient for both of us to go and look at the “Perfect tractor.”  Many times after looking at and test running the tractor we would leave just shaking our heads in disbelief.  Often times I said on the way home, “If the owner would have told me the truth about it when I talked to him on the phone, I would never even have went and looked at it.”  To which my wife replied, “He knew that and that’s why he didn’t tell you the truth.”

One tractor we looked at was absolutely shocking.  The owner had bought it off of a farmer in Iowa that had bought it brand new many years before.  He assured us it was in super excellent condition and we had better look at it soon before somebody else bought it from him.  We went and looked at it and were shocked at what we saw.  It had been stripped down and wasn’t even safe to run.  I did run it a little and it ran terrible.  When I mentioned the condition of the tractor to the owner, he didn’t think it was that bad.  He did tell us though that his niece got killed by that tractor, but that didn’t seem to affect him at all!   We quickly told him, “No” and left.  It is amazing what some people are like.

We went and looked at another tractor that was in “excellent shape.”  When we saw it we were amazed at all the duct tape holding it together!  I am not joking on this.  The farmer assured me though that if I bought it he would get it fixed up for me.  I told him, “I don’t think so” and left.

This was getting discouraging trying to find a good used tractor to buy.  Joshua really wanted one, I told him we had to have patience and in time we would get one.  Patience can be hard to have when a boy has a bad case of “tractor fever.”  I must say though, that Joshua did very well.  Every time we looked at a tractor, afterwards we would talk it over and I would always have him tell me first what he thought of it and why.  This was very educational for Joshua, as well as for Catherine and Joanne.  I would always tell them my opinion last.  It was interesting; sometimes they would see stuff on the tractor that I would miss.

We were getting desperate to find a good used tractor.  Finally one day we stopped at our local implement shop and talked to the owner.  Ron said he had a man from a fair distance away that wanted to trade his older Farmall in on a newer tractor that Ron had on his lot.  He had pictures of it on the computer and it looked sharp!  Needless to say, we were very interested.  Through a lot of wheeling and dealing over the phone we came to an agreement that was contingent on us looking at and running his tractor for final approval.

On the set day, Ron and I drove down to look at the tractor with plans to close the deal.  Joshua had school that day and so he couldn’t go, but he gave me permission to buy the tractor if I thought it was a good deal.  Ron and I checked it out and it did pass muster.  We were ready to close the deal when the owner told us he had to have $500 more than what we had agreed on.  With that Ron got very upset and walked right out.  I stayed a minute and questioned the man about the extra money seeing we had already agreed on the price ahead of time.  But he insisted he had to have $500 more.  With that I also in disgust went and joined Ron in the pickup and left.

On the way home, Ron and I talked quite a bit.  We were both very upset with the man not keeping his word to us.  I did ask Ron if he thought the tractor was worth $500 more.  Ron thought on it a while and said, “I think you could buy it for that price and be O.K.”  That was kind of how I felt too, but both of us strongly disapproved of the owner breaking his word to us.  I told Ron I would tell Joshua the whole story and let him decide.

When I got home later that day, Joshua was eagerly awaiting news on the tractor.  I told him the whole story and his face went sad.  I told him to think it over and decide.  The next day he told me, “I don’t want that tractor.”  Later on when I told Ron, his reply was, “Fine, don’t have him buy something he isn’t going to feel good about.”  With that I thanked Ron for both of us and said, “Good-bye.”

It was getting so that I was hesitant to call on any more tractors.  But shortly thereafter, we saw a different tractor advertized in the paper.  I called on it and the farmer made it sound like a really good one.  So on a set Saturday Joshua and I went and looked at it.  Were we surprised; it looked decent and ran excellent.  We agreed right there on it and bought the tractor from Ed.  It’s a Farmall 450 made in 1957.  We have had it on our farm for awhile now and it has worked very well.

Looking back we are all very happy that we passed up all the previous tractors.  Why did Joshua say no to the nice one that the farmer wanted $500 more for you ask?  It’s a matter of integrity.  We always taught our children early on to tell the truth and to keep their word.  The Bible commands us parents, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  So when the farmer wouldn’t keep his word to us, Joshua wanted nothing to do with him.  I couldn’t blame him a bit and I felt the same way.

So Joshua got cured of his “tractor fever” and learned a lot more about people.  He also put in practice the principals we taught him from the Word of God.  What’s more than that, he saw God answer our prayers for a good used tractor.

 

 

Tom Heck, his wife Joanne, and their two children, Catherine and Joshua, own and operate a 35 cow, 159 acre dairy farm in northwestern WI.  Contact Tom at: lifeonthefamilyfarm@gmail.com    Copyright © 2013 by Tom Heck.  All rights reserved.

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Photo caption:  Joshua by his tractor.

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