Farmer Iron

See it on TV

I'm amazed how farming is portrayed on television, and you should be too.

I'm watching a T-Mobile commercial the other day - the one where they're announcing the big price cut (great news for subscribers) and as part of the commercial they show a farmer in a field - woo hoo! Not so much.

You see, the farmer, in this vast corn field, is sitting on an 8N tractor, and not just any Ford 8N, but a model that was built in such a limited number that frankly you wouldn't be using it in the field. Yep, they put a modern farmer on a museum piece to promote a 21st Century cell phone plan!

Of course, the way agriculture is portrayed has been a pet peeve of mine for some time. According to our friends on television we never drive new equipment, we let people ride on the fender of an old ROPS-free machine and we use nothing bigger than a 125 horsepower machine. While you're toiling away with 21st Century equipment and technology, Hollywood thinks nothing better of showing "you" sitting on a 50-plus-year-old tractor, but heck you've got a cellphone.

The reason the tractor caught my eye was because of the hood of that 8N - you see I once did some freelance writing about tractor restoration and had the unique opportunity to talk with the late Palmer Fossum, a well-known collector of Ford tractors. One of his pride and joys was a vintage 8N with a cast aluminum hood - that's right cast aluminum.

I don't recall the exact numbers, but Fossum noted that Ford build a very limited number of these hoods for their machines because steel was in short supply. Since they were cast, they were prone to cracking, but they sure looked good - no paint, just a shiny hood.

Fossum, who lived near Northfield, Minn., passed away this year and his tractor collection was sold at a massive auction that drew farmers and collectors from all over. It was a huge event. And why do I tell this story?

That's right, the modern T-Mobile using farmer in that commercial is sitting on an 8N with a cast aluminum hood. Rare, and not useful.

You can shrug off how you're portrayed on television only so long as you want. But remember, people think that's how we're still farming out there and when the anti-tech groups fire up their attitudes about modern agriculture, you're portrayed as being part of the minority. And who's to say you're not, because television always shows you in 20-plus-year-old tractors and equipment, you must not be modern. Only a few of you must be using that new-fangled commercial stuff right?

It's just one museum piece tractor on a TV commercial, but it's a continuing sign of the disconnect between those in the city and those in the country. It's worth paying attention to.

In case you missed the commercial, you can watch it below:

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