Vernon Huyser, 83, has about 45 old tractors at his farm four miles southeast of Sully. Most of them are green Olivers. “I haven’t counted them up, they’re just setting around and I restore them myself,” Vernon said, “but I think about 30 are Olivers.”

vernon-huyser-tractor.jpg Vernon and Lucille, his wife of over 60 years, go on tractor rides together. His ride number 12 was June 23-25, 2008, the annual WHO Radio Tractor Ride based in Boone. He was very proud to say his Oliver 77 did very well using only 8.5 gallons of fuel so in these days of high gas prices that helps keep the hobby’s expenses at least a little lower. Before going on the WHO Ride this year, Vernon thought it would be his last one, “but after seeing all the friends and people you meet year after year, I’ll probably go again if my health holds up.” When tractor rides first started, Lucille didn’t think she’d like to go but she likes them too. Since tractors move slower, they enjoy seeing lots of flowers and gardens along the road that you don’t see while riding in a car.

On his first tractor ride, Vernon drove an old Coop tractor and really got the looks and questions because most people haven’t seen or even heard of a Coop tractor. “I always wanted one and it is such a nice little tractor,” Vernon said. All his rides have been great experiences, even the one time his Oliver 1650 died and “I had to be pulled and it was my own fault. We’ve been in severe rains which are kind of bad but you keep going.”

“My dad started with Olivers so I started with them and I just stay with them. I still have my dad’s Oliver 70 he bought new in 1939. It runs and it’s in really good shape. I was always going to paint it, maybe some day,” Vernon chuckled. And he’s passed the hobby along as often he, his son Randy Huyser, and Randy’s daughter Ali Schnell ride together in tractor rides, including the 2008 WHO Ride. “It’s a challenge to see an old piece of iron and get it to run – that’s what I kind of like to do,” said Vernon.

(By Margaret Vander Weerdt June ’08)