The $800 Disk
In the spring of 1993 I was looking for a good field disk and gave Auctioneer Glen of Springfield a call. He had seen an ad in the Dakota Action Rocket and thought it was Floyd and Gary of Geddes, who had several disks for sale. Sure enough they had a 16-foot Model 475 disk and a 21-foot model. I took off with the pickup early in the day to go look at the disks. Floyd greeted me with his usual well-mannered humorous personality and Gary, who is also a great guy, came a little later after finishing chores. The bottom line price was $800 dollars for the Model 475 16-foot disk. The bearings were good but there was a little wear on the front blades. After paying for the disk, making sure the “Slow Moving Vehicle” sign and other safety measures were securely in place, we were off for home. With the flashers on and watching closely for traffic from both behind and front, mailboxes and other possible hazards the disk, pickup and driver made it home safely.
Oh, what a disk it was! Over the years it was used to make the first pass for tearing up ground that had never been farmed for a landlord. It was used when there was too much trash or it was too wet yet for $800 dollar IHC Model 400 8-row planter to operate properly. It was used for the first pass for fall tillage followed by the $800 dollar chisel plow purchased from Ralph at his retirement sale.
The disk did the job and did it well. Yes, the front disks and bearings were replaced with the help of Harvey and Fred at the legendary “Old Bull Shed” in Tyndall, South Dakota about 5 years after the purchase. Harvey also welded up several cracked spools that are still intact today. The 15-inch car tires have been replaced as they cracked or went flat over time. One of the smaller end disk blades cracked and was replaced. Bolts would be replaced and this spring retightening of bolts holding the right front gang was necessary. Over the years all of the grease zerks were lubricated faithfully after every 40 to 50 acres of use.
While at the “Bull Shed”, Tony, Ken, Leroy and the others who gathered for the usual morning coffee and discussion of current events, wondered if that disk would ever wear out. I can proudly say it still has not.
A gentleman came from North Dakota and sharpened the blades on the $800 disk and also the John Deere 21-foot cone blade deeper tillage disk, making them go in the ground much easier.
Various Tractors have pulled the $800 dollar disk: Tractors from 80 horsepower to a 170hp front wheel assist for the hard pulls in tougher conditions. The disk did do 160 acres in one day, which is not many acres by today’s huge equipment standards.
Numerous times the disk did the job by going very shallow and opening up the soil for the no till drill when conditions were not ideal. It also made the first passes for ground on which new tree shelterbelts were planted. My wife and son usually chose this disk and cab tractor when they needed to help catch up with fieldwork, and the list goes on. This spring the $800 disk was pressed into duty once again.
There is no moral to this story except that sometimes we all want more and more and the best of everything. If we take good care of what we have we can still enjoy life and get the job done, even if it is with an $800 disk.
—Frank Kloucek is a farmer in South Dakota where he lives with his wife and family. He is also a former member of the South Dakota State House of Representatives and a former member of the South Dakota State Senate.