July 11 2022 08:00 AM

My family’s roots in agriculture rest on the wheels of a Farmall B.

My Grandpa Charlie poses with the tractor, sometime after purchasing it and bringing it to his farm.

I didn’t grow up on my own family’s farm, but I always knew I had a strong agricultural history. My dad was raised on a Holstein dairy farm where they grew all their own crops to feed the cows, but the milking herd sold in 1995. My grandma on my mom’s side was also raised on a dairy farm. Despite knowing these bits of history, I never heard this particular story until my grandma Peper offered me a little tractor that sat deep in a shed on the farm my dad was raised on. It hadn’t left its resting spot for decades and was in rough shape. I wasn’t so sure I wanted it, until I heard this story.

The Farmall B when it was newly restored, before we were able to find the correct decals for it.
In the early 1940s, my maternal grandma Carolyn Melin’s grandpa, Gust Melin, purchased a Farmall B tractor. After years of use, he passed this tractor on to one of his sons, Wilbur Melin, who continued to use it on his family’s 20-acre farm in northwest Wisconsin. My grandma Carolyn remembers growing up with this tractor and using it to rake hay, run the elevator to bring hay into the mow, and cultivate fields.

“I learned how to drive it, alongside my brothers, Larry and Wayne. The two of them even used it to drive to the local feed mill to pick up supplies and groceries from the store,” she reminisced when I asked her about the tractor.

This was found by my grandma Carolyn; you can see the B in the background on the farm she was raised on. Taken August of 1963.

This tractor was beloved by their family but continued to wear after years of work. Once my great-grandpa Wilbur sold the farm and retired, he passed the tractor on to my grandma, who kept it safe for years. One day, grandma was ready to sell the tractor and found a local farmer who was interested in it. This farmer was my dad’s father, my grandpa Charlie Peper. Charlie paid Wilbur Melin for the tractor in 1985 since he was still technically the owner.

This tractor continued to work, raking hay and running the elevator, but was eventually retired, especially once the milking cows were sold.

The B won “oldest tractor” at my hometown’s antique tractor show!
Fast forward many years, and I finally looked at this tractor my grandma Peper had been telling me about for years and I learned of the long history it had on both sides of my family before the two were brought together by my parents. My boyfriend and his dad are experienced with fixing tractors, and even restoring them, so naturally, in 2019 I convinced them to adopt my little Farmall B that was dented, had busted tires, and didn’t run.

The B visited the Edgar Steam Show for the first time in 2021.
After many years of hard work and determination, they were able to bring it back to life, making it look like a million bucks (at least in my opinion)! I nearly cried when it was all done. It was such a special moment to see life brought back into this little tractor. I hope my family members before me are as proud as I am to see how our family’s agricultural story has truly been brought full circle.

You can catch me and the B showing off at the Edgar Tractor and Steam Show in Edgar, Wis., this August!

Mikayla Peper

Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wis. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbors’ Holstein dairy farm. That spurred her involvement in 4-H and FFA, and following graduation from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in agricultural communication and marketing. During the school year, she worked as a website designer for the University of Minnesota department of animal science, and last summer, she was a farmer relations intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper is serving as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.