|Tractors pull on Haskins’ heart|
|Wednesday, August 8, 2012|
Triple HHH farmer’s collection numbers 29
Ricky Haskins has sown a soft place in his heart for those diesel-smoke belching metal behemoths that have proven to be the best friend a farmer ever had.
In fact, the 59-year-old Lebanon native still operates the first tractor he ever drove, a light gray and orange 1949 8N Ford that belonged to his late uncle, Houston Hancock.
“I was about 10 years old, and I always wanted to drive a tractor. I was at his farm on Horn Springs Road one day, but my uncle didn’t go for that. So my aunt sent him to town to get something so that we could slip out the back door to ride the tractor while he was gone,” reminisced Haskins of the tractor he restored in 1981 after his uncle left it to him.
Haskins works eight tractors on his Triple HHH Farm where he raises beef cattle, but a long shed holds 29 antique tractors wearing coats of green, red and orange paint. The oldest of the lot is a steel-wheeled 1928 McCormick-Deering.
“All of these tractors run,” Haskins said of the metallic workhorses bearing such names as John Deere, Allis-Chalmers, Ford, Ford-Ferguson, International, McCormick Deering and McCormick Farmall. He restored them all.
The farmer, who also helps with the family business, Lebanon Chemical Company, of which he partners with parents Charles and Ramona Haskins and brother Jeff, confesses he’s partial to John Deere tractors.
His favorite of the 29 parked in the shed?
He finds it hard to put into words what attracts him to these workhorses of field and pasture.
“It’s gotta be in your blood. I guess you just got to like farming and tractors,” he explained.
Farming fever definitely runs hot on Haskins’ brow. He was infected as a youth.
“I had two uncles who had farms, and every time I could talk her into it, I would get Mama to take me to their farms and let me out,” he said, remembering back to his elementary-school days.
From the age of 6 or so, he helped his father at Haskins Service Station, a Sinclair filling station a block north of the Lebanon Square. (Frank’s Exxon sits on that site, kitty-corner from Burger King.) When he was 14, he bought his first tractor, paying $600 for a used 1949 8N Ford. That gave him a set of wheels and another avenue with which to earn an income.
“My transportation was a tractor ’cause I didn’t have to be 16 years old to drive it. I didn’t need a license. I plowed backyard gardens for people all over Lebanon and in subdivisions like Oak Hill,” Haskins said.
With a tractor beneath him, the only other thing he yearned for was a farm. In the late 1960s, when he was 16 or 17, Haskins convinced his parents to purchase one.
“I begged my dad and them for a farm. Finally we got 80 acres on Cainsville Road. I remember my mother saying, ‘We moved from a house we built to an old farmhouse.’”
The hard-working teenager then started renting other farms on which to raise cattle. One of the first was the Chapman Farm, which later became the Kon-Tiki subdivision. “At one point I was raising cattle all over Lebanon on seven farms that I had rented,” he said.
Then, after his uncle left him that first tractor he ever drove, well, it also became the first tractor he restored. Haskins has since restored 28 more, plus a 1953 John Deere MT belonging to Fiddler’s Grove Historic Village, now on display at the Rowland Barn in Fiddler’s Grove. (The paint job was done by Haskins’ friend Roger Sherrill.)
“I do just about everything but paint ’em,” said Haskins, who painted one tractor himself in his workshop.
“I didn’t cover all my tools, and they turned John Deere green,” he told on himself.
Along with the 29 big machines, Haskins keeps toy replicas of each displayed in his farm office, a place where he and wife Kathy and grown sons Dusty and Cody enjoy relaxing away from work right outside the door.
Haskins doesn’t keep his vintage tractors permanently locked away. He will display a half dozen or so of them at the Wilson County Fair, and he’s also into tractor-pull competitions.
Will he enter the tractor pull at this year’s fair a week-and-a-half from now?
Yes, sirree bob, he will. Haskins plans to compete with his 1941 A John Deere, which might have other old-tractor fanatics turning John Deere green with envy.