Paul Wuertz pulls a Minneapolis Moline small baler behind the tractor Aug. 8 near Spring Hill, Minn. 
Paul Wuertz pulls a Minneapolis Moline small baler behind the tractor Aug. 8 near Spring Hill, Minn. PHOTO BY DANNA SABOILK
Spring Hill, Minn. – While it is common to see farmers harvesting oats this time of year, it is rare to see it done with a 1955 pull-behind combine.
The Wuertz family hauled a relic machine of the Minneapolis Moline variety out of the shed this summer and decided to give it a spin Aug. 8 on a 27-acre oat field south of their farm near Spring Hill, Minn.
“I think it was in the shed for more than 30 years without use,” Peter Wuertz said. “Grandpa bought it new and we used it for a long time.”
Peter and Lisa Wuertz and their children, Paul, Luke and Brooke, milk 60 cows and grow corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa on 434 acres.
The combining event was a family affair, with Peter’s father, Tom, his uncle, Jim, and his sister, Laura, in attendance for the event.
“It’s nice for the kids to do this with their grandpa, the way he did it growing up,” Peter said.
Not knowing if this opportunity will come again, the children were excited to have a chance to take the rig out for a spin.
Of course, there were minor hiccups and the old machinery needed encouragement now and then, but Tom was ready and able to provide his mechanical expertise.
The family has a special connection with the brand of farming equipment. Peter’s grandfather, Paul Wuertz, purchased a 1939 R Moline as a young farmer. His neighbors teased him he would go broke buying the gas for it.
Paul was a talented inventor who designed and patented a hydraulic loader for his 39 R tractor, and also designed and patented the tensioning system for the square baler used by the Minneapolis Moline company. The company would bring prototypes to the farm for Paul to test and use. He would fine tune them and get everything working well, then send them back to the company.
Paul later bought additional Moline tractors and other equipment to farm with them.
Today, the Wuertzes have 30 tractors, including several front-wheel assist tractors and a four-wheel drive, the G4 combine, the small square baler and some tillage equipment.
The tractors range from 1936 to 1970 models.
Peter remembers driving the combine and hoping for a crosswind when he woke up in the morning. That way he would not have to wear a hooded sweatshirt in the hot weather to keep the dust out of his eyes and face.
When Peter teased his 16-year-old daughter, Brooke, about the crosswind and needing a sweatshirt, her response was, “Yeah, Dad, that was like 100 years ago.”
One hundred years ago, last week. The Wuertzes have plenty of fond memories of the old Minneapolis Moline tractors, and a family legacy to last lifetimes.