What would you do if you won a restored 1954 Farmall Super MTA?
Ross Cluver called his father.
“I sat and thought about it a little and then called dad. First I said, ‘We got to make room for another tractor in the shed.’ He didn’t catch on so I told him I won the tractor. I think he was just as shocked as I was.”
The family shared a photo of Ross as a young child, sitting on the seat of his father’s 1954 Farmall Super MTA—the first tractor the Cluver family farm owned.
His dad, Elroy Cluver, who only responds to the nickname Pee Wee, knew about “the tractor.” He had been with Ross in Hoopeston when he entered the Birkey’s Farm Store raffle. In fact, he had encouraged Ross to take his chances and buy some tickets. He bought $100 worth.
“I figured it was just a good donation—that I’d never win,” says Ross.
The donation was made to Birkey’s 60-Day Hunger Drive, which aimed to raise money for seven local food banks. Individuals who gave $10 or more between Feb. 3 and April 4 were entered into a drawing to win the restored Farmall. Overall, the drive raised approximately $167,000 and sold 21,000 entries into the raffle.
After calling his father, Ross went outside and swept the shop.
“It usually doesn’t get too dirty, but I swept it up before everyone came.”
And everyone certainly came. Neighbors drove in from all directions to celebrate with Ross. Word travels quickly in a small farming community, although Ross’ father admitted to helping it along.
“Yeah, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut,” says Elroy.
The event included a presentation by Birkey’s President and CEO Mike Hedge. He thanked customers for partnering with Birkey’s and presented Jim Hires, the Executive Director of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, with a check for $90,000. He also officially “handed the keys” of the tractor over to Ross.
Today Ross farms 650 acres with his father. He considers 1986 to be the year he started farming, but he grew up harvesting the same fields he works today. His father bought the farm in 1964, and first tractor he farmed with was a 1954 Super MTA. He wished he still had it.
Ross stands by his father Elroy “Pee Wee” Cluver. Photo taken in 1986.
“I wasn’t surprised when Ross started farming. He started farming when he was old enough to haul in ear corn. We had a small tractor that he could get off and on. He hauled in the corn and our neighbors helped him unload it,” say Elroy.
As he admired the 60-year old tractor, Elroy reflected on how things had changed over the years.
“Ross has a new tractor in the shed—it has a steering deal where you don’t even need to put your hands on the wheel. The combine is the same way. It’s kind of different than when I farmed,” says Elroy.
Ross built a new shop 5 years ago, and he had cleared out a spot for the new tractor to reside. It will not stay there all year, though.
“We’ll probably drive it occasionally. The town—Buckley—has a summer Fun Days with an antique tractor parade. I’ll probably take it to that,” says Ross.