The phone rang the other day and it was Don Cummings, son of my former ag teacher, Jim Cummings. Don is a dentist in Seymour, Ind., and was responsible for arranging a visit of Katie Stam to her home county, Jackson County, during the county fair when she reigned as Miss America a few years ago. Obviously, dentists have more pull than just with teeth!
This time we were talking about an elderly farmer who passed away recently. Don worked for him when he and his sons were in high school and beyond. He still remembers when the first tractor with a cab arrived on the farm.
"None of us wanted to drive it because we liked being outdoors," Don says. "We would only drive it if we didn't have a choice. We liked being outside, even if it was cold or drizzling. It didn't bother us – it was part of the experience of working on a farm."
A few years ago someone gave Don original literature about a company that made heat-housers for tractor without cabs, and he passed it on to me. Featuring a sketch of a good-looking girl, it was pretty racy stuff for those days. I have no idea if it helped sell heat-housers or not.
I do know we had a heat-houser on our Allis-Chalmers D-17. It got in the way of getting on and off, but when you were trying to haul manure and it was 20 degrees, maybe spitting snow, having the heat off the engine coming up and keeping the snow off made it worth it.
Cabs made heat-housers all but extinct. And have times changed? Try to get someone to drive a tractor without a cab in cold or foul weather today and see how well they like it.
"I must admit I've got my mower for mowing fence rows hooked up to a tractor without a cab right now," Don says. "But if crops come out late and it's November and cold when I can do it, I just might unhook and hook on the one tractor I have with a cab. Even I don't like getting cold and damp these days."
What's the point? Just another example of how times have changed. If you have a son or young employee who has never driven a tractor without a cab in cold, hot or dreary weather, maybe you ought to give them that experience. Odds are they will appreciate the cab more!