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The real reason 'garden tractors' took off in farm country

The real reason 'garden tractors' took off in farm country
Throwback Thursday: Garden tractors popularity was about scraping manure and hauling silage, not mowing grass!

This very early Allis-Chalmers garden tractor from the 1960s, pictured below, brought back memories. It was one of several restored or partially restored Allis-Chalmers B-10 or B-10 variation displayed on Antique Row at the 2015 Farm Progress Show.

It's in the same vein as Ben Hay's Cub Cadet 70, shown in the Tractor Treasures article in the September edition of Indiana Prairie Famer. You'll see it when it hits your mailbox very soon.

It got me thinking about the original garden tractors, produced by International Harvester in its Louisville, Ky., plant. Those were just called "Cub Cadet." Today, people refer to it as the Cub Cadet original, but it didn't say that on the tractor.

When lawn tractors were 'real' tractors: Try scraping manure or hauling silage with a lawn tractor you buy at a big box store today. See how long it holds up!

Those early Cub Cadets had about 7 horsepower. The Allis-Chalmers B-10 was named because it had about 10 horsepower. Either way, farmers liked them.

My father bought one in the early 1960s, but it just wasn't so I didn't have to push a lawn mower any more. We used it to mow the yard and lots, but he really bought it for farm work on our dairy farm.

Equipped with tires that were more similar to tractor tires than those that come on lawn tractors today, my early memories are using it for two things.

First, I used it to scrape manure out of the tromp shed where cattle ate hay. It was quite the berries for going between bunks. The blade side was enough to push manure, but it was narrow enough to move in and out. It prevented a lot of scooping back in the day.

Second, we used it to haul silage from our small, original silo over to the newer silo and feed bunk barn. It had an automatic feeder. All you did was load up the cart that came with the garden tractor, fitted with extensions, drive up to the newer barn, and scoop the silage into the hopper of the auger that took silage down through the bunk.

Related: Cub Cadet makes first lawn tractor with bluetooth

When we fed out of the newer silo, an automatic unloader threw the silage down into the same hopper and out the same auger. When we fed silage out of the old silo, the automatic unloader was usually me, using a silage fork to throw down enough silage for a couple feedings. Then I climbed down and loaded up silage in the cart and hauled it over to the other barn with the garden tractor.

If you're too young to relate to any of this, and all you know of feeding animals is pushing buttons, you've really missed something.

I bet you're not as tired at night as I was after throwing down silage and hauling it from one barn to the next!

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