10-year-old boy buys his own tractor

Caleb Bergner uses money from selling animals to get 1948 Farmall Cub
Lynn Zaffrann

Caleb Bergner bought a tractor a few weeks ago.

He bought the antique 1948 Farmall Cub tractor to use on his family’s farm. He used his life savings to buy it. None of this would be too unusual in Wisconsin’s heartland, except that he is 10 years old and in fourth grade.

Caleb is the son of Jill and Jason Bergner, owners of Bergner Beef Family Farm in Pulaski.

It was at the beginning of May when he first saw and immediately decided to buy the tractor from a neighbor about four miles down the road.

“I was at the end of his driveway when I saw it,” Caleb said. “He was just our neighbor. He’s 93 years old.”

Jill Bergner, Caleb’s mother, explained that a neighbor was downsizing and had the rare tractor on display in his driveway.

“I think he had used the tractor in years past, but not currently,” she said.

Caleb Bergner begged her for two days, according to Jill Bergner, before they went after school to ask how much the guy wanted. She said that Caleb’s father had to agree to the deal.

“I said that I wanted to buy it,” Caleb Bergner said. “My dad said, ‘That’s your opinion, but you know that you will have to take care of it. I said, ‘Yeah,’ so that was it.”

Caleb Bergner bought the tractor for $2,800, using money he sold from selling two pigs at the 4-H competition at the 2022 Shawano County Fair, where he won one first place and one third place. His nest egg also included money he earned from doing chores on the family farm.

The shiny red tractor is in pristine condition.

“I didn’t have to do anything to it,” Caleb Bergner said.

Caleb’s father, Jason Bergner, was 12 when he got his first tractor.

“When they were little, their dad always took them on the tractor,” Jill Bergner said.

Farmall is a part of International Harvester, and the Bergners feel that those tractors tend to be good investments.

“It’s a going to retain and grow its value,” Jill Bergner said.

They brought the tractor home, with Jason Bergner accompanying him for the four-mile route.

“Driving it home, Jason held onto the back of the tractor and instructed Caleb in the gears and how to drive it,” Jill Bergner said. “It has three gears and a reverse, so it’s pretty simple to catch on.”

Caleb Bergner likes to ride around on his new tractor, and he’s been known to give his sisters rides.

“I’ll do things like picking up stones and I can hitch up the attachments I’ll need to do things on the farm with it,” he said.

Caleb Bergner is the oldest child in the family. His three siblings are Grace, 9; Wyatt, 7; and Ava, 6. They all have assigned chores to complete daily on the farm.

Caleb Bergner said that he has quite a few things that he does to help out on the farm.

“I do plowing, raking, packing the sileage piles, spreading,” he said.

He plans to do more, using his tractor.

The Bergner Beef Family Farm was originally the home farm of Jill’s mother, Joan Schulke.

“That’s good that Caleb’s into something like that, instead of buying things that you don’t need. It keeps him from being in the wrong crowd,” Schulke said. “I’m happy for him being interested in something like this.”

Caleb Bergner is in the Angelica 4-H Club and plans to show at least one pig at this year’s fair. He has specific duties for the care of the pigs on the farm.

“The pigs are three months old,” he said. “I feed them, I get water for them, and if they get sick, then they need a shot.”

Jill Bergner noted that, in preparation for showing the pigs, “He’ll have to start walking them, using the cane, start training them to keep their heads up and walk right alongside.”

Math is Caleb Bergner’s favorite subject and he started playing baseball this year, not unusual for typical fourth graders in 2023.

When asked what he would like people to know about him, he said: “That I grew up on a farm, and I want to be a farmer.”

The Bergner Beef Family Farm currently has about 240 head of cattle. They sell meat bundles, quarters, halves and whole beef sections. For information, visit www.bergnerbeef.com.