A MOY family who have passed a tractor among four generations are celebrating as their now treasured piece of machinery reaches its 50th year – and it is still going strong.
Half a century ago, Ben McFarland made his way to David Brown Tractors at the top of Anne Street, Dungannon to obtain a vehicle for the family farm.
He ended choosing the David Brown Selectamatic 880 and Charlie Taylor, the manager at the time, brokered a deal for a grand price of £865, and the rest as they say, is history.
The 880 tractor had no power steering and no cab, but Ben’s son Eric remembers coming home from school one day and there was this mystical machine sitting in the yard.
Speaking the Courier, Eric tells the tale of how this tractor became synonymous with the McFarland family.
“It had a bright red seat and one extra – a foot throttle,” he said.
“The 880 was in opposition with the Massey Ferguson 135 but those days you had to live in County Armagh to drive a Massey Ferguson.”
The tractor has been used over the years for a multitude of jobs.
“In the tractor’s early days it was used for cutting silage with a 43” mounted forage harvester,” Eric explained.
“But most of its working life was spent buckraking in silage and scrapping out cattle houses and cattle yards.
“The purchase of a shear grab many years ago enabled the silage to be cut into blocks at the silo face and the 880 transports the blocks with a small link box to the cattle with no danger of sharp edges and no spillage.”
The family monument has travelled the equivalent of around 100 marathons since its introduction to the farm.
“The cattle yards and silage are a short distance by field but by travelling by road over the last 50 years twice daily the tractor has travelled over 26,000 miles,” Eric said.
The 880 tractor has passed through a staggering four generations as the McFarland’s continue to rely on the antique vehicle.
“Dad did a lot of driving over the years, and I too have learned a lot about driving the 880,” said Eric.
“Gary, one of our four sons learned to drive to drive the 880 at nine years of age and now does most of the tractor work.
“Gary’s son Lewis is now getting behind the wheel.
“Four generations – not a bad record for a tractor!
“They say nothing runs like a Deere, if it’s not red keep it in the shed; if it is not blue it won’t do, but if if your colours white you will be all right!”
Small mechanical tweaks have been made over the years, but Eric revealed the tractor still has the originally clutch and lift pump fitted.
“The engine was done up four years ago and our thanks goes to David Willis our tractor mechanic known by hundreds of farmers throughout Northern Ireland for his fast and efficient manner and for repairing tractors of any age or make,” he added.
How long does this mythical tractor have left in the tank is the question everyone is asking, but Eric says it is out of their hands.
“How much time any one of us have left, that is in God’s hands; how much time does the 880 has left? That is is up to David Willis,” laughed Eric.
“But the same could be said about old tractors and old farmers they never die, they just gradually wear done.”
While that may be case for most tractors – it is clear this is no ordinary tractor and one the McFarland’s will cherish for decades to come.