Tractors aren't just a piece of iron on some farms; the machinery can become a symbol of a farming journey. That's the case for one 1970 John Deere 4520 that’s a treasured tractor for Nick Sievers of Beresford, South Dakota.
“It was the first one I ever owned,” he says. “I bought it before I actually met my wife even and started a farming operation with it.”
The 4520 is not only his first tractor, but his pride and joy.
“For our wedding, my wife and I painted it, and it was our getaway vehicle of all the hay rack with everybody in our wedding party away from the church,” he says. “It was it was really neat.”
A farmer for 10 years, Sievers says that 1970 piece of iron was a workhorse on his farm and one he had from start to finish.
“Due to situation in the ag market and economy, we had quit,” he says.
With a trying 2019 and 2020, and mounting challenges in agriculture, Sievers was forced to do what he never wanted to do: get out of farming and sell the tractor that meant so much.
“Selling it was tough, Sievers says. “It wasn't about losing a tractor. It was what that represented. It was a failure.”
At that moment, he took to Facebook and shared the story about his last ride. Little did he know that post would ignite something bigger.
“That's what got the ball rolling on the tractor coming back home,” says Sievers.
As the tractor hit the online auction, Sievers watched the bids come in and the bids continued to climb.
“I was watching it sell, and it sold for a little more than it should have, and there was just one guy that couldn't be beat on the on the live bids,” describes Sievers as he was watching the auction online.
Little did he know that one aggressive bidder was a close friend of his.
“One of my friends saw the tractor story and he just put his foot down and said, ‘no, that's not going to happen,’” Sievers says. “So, they all got together, and I've lost count of the number of people now, but there's a long list of people that contributed.”
From pocket change to larger donations, his friends came up with enough money to buy back Sievers’ treasured tractor from the internet auction.
“When the evening the auction ended, I was at home doing some things and they came in the yard in a pickup truck, not in a tractor, and handed me some keys,” he says. “They said ‘you need to go get your tractor.’ I said, ‘well, did you buy it?’ He said, ‘well yeah, but you need to go get your tractor. Your tractor is broken down up the road, you need to go get it.’ I said, ‘that sounds like your problem,’ and then they told me what they had done.”
At that moment, Sievers says he was overcome with a mix of emotions.
“It wasn't sadness,” says Sievers. “It really wasn't joy. It was just one of the most amazzing things I've ever felt.”
He says the emotions rushed over him as he knew that one act of kindness was so much more than that.
“Selling all this equipment was hard on me,” explains Sievers. “Quitting farming was hard on me. I liked doing it. It was a good occupation. It was a noble one, but there's just all that weight on my shoulders getting lifted off, and it's my friends that took the weight off my shoulders.”
It’s been a couple weeks since the auction, and Sievers still gets choked up talking about it. After all, a humble act of kindness, came with the ultimate tractor gift.
“The best way I can explain it is it's not really a tractor anymore,” he says. “It's a monument to human decency, and I get to be the caretaker. That's pretty neat.”
A community come together in a time of need, showcasing the good in people; an act of unity shining light on the heart of rural America.