By Bonnie Sitter
Allan and Marlene Rundle’s picturesque farm is on the edge of the town of Exeter in Huron County. Allan has lived and farmed here his entire life, leaving school after grade eight to help his dad farm their 150 acres. Allan's parents, Arthur and Alma Rundle, purchased the farm from Arthur's father in 1928. Going back even further they trace their history to the land being purchased from the Canada Company in 1854 with their brick home being built in 1866.
In 1961, Allan purchased his new Massey Ferguson 35 SO 234963 from the local Massey Ferguson dealer, H.R. Sherwood in Exeter. A new MF 66 3F plow was purchased at the same time. Total price? $3,500. The MF 35 was kept when all the rest of the machinery was sold seven years ago to cut the grass, a chore both Allan and Marlene love to do.
“Neighbours tell me I was the first person in Huron County to start cutting the ditches,” laughs Marlene. “I don’t like the weeds.”
Marlene and Allan were married in 1962 and Marlene saved all the paperwork regarding the new tractor, including the note from Chas. H. Chapman, the Credit Manager for Massey-Ferguson, Toronto Branch, acknowledging their final payment. For approximately the first five years of their marriage, the M35 (as they call it) was their only tractor. It was used for cultivating, plowing, pulling the forage harvester and then hauling forage wagons to the silo. “Back and forth, back and forth”, is how Marlene describes the process as she was often the driver.
The couple upgraded to other Massey tractors when more horsepower was needed but the M35 was always there to complete the smaller jobs.
Allan smiles when he describes the Massey 270 having a cab on it that he didn’t like, so he removed it. He also has good memories about working during the winter months for the Massey Ferguson dealership in Exeter. He had the knowledge and a talent for assembling farm equipment and other little mechanical jobs as needed.
Marlene also worked off the farm, first as a schoolteacher. When two children arrived, she stayed home and ran the farm with Allan, taking part-time jobs at retail locations in Exeter throughout the years.
Her joy has always been outside. Part of this interview was in the evening via phone, after she’d come in from replacing torn plastic on some barn windows. “I used to rush through the house chores so I could get outside,” she admits. Still does. The farm they live on (plus others they owned) has been bought by the Strang family, a family they have worked with for decades. However, Allan and Marlene can stay living in the farmhouse as long as they like.
“We are just five minutes from town so it makes no sense to move. As long as I can cut the grass, we’ll stay here,” she says. “If I see weeds I can’t handle that. Then I’d have to move.”
Looking back over the years, the farm has been home to Angus cattle, some of which Allan showed at the prestigious Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. The couple had a dairy operation at one time as well as chickens and pigs. Later years it was crop farming growing white and soy beans, corn and wheat.
Now in their 80s they are downsizing. It is time for the M35 to find a new home. Asking price? $3,500. When Marlene went to the barn to drive it into the barnyard, there was no hesitation. It started on the first try. She reminded me it doesn’t have power steering! She was grinning!
Over the years this farm has seen a lot of changes and the M35 has seen them all since 1961. ◊