When Uli Rübke’s father bought his first ride mower in 1983 he chose John Deere saying he couldn’t afford a cheap mower! Thirty-two years on, his son and grandson Mark still drive it with pride – they even held a parade to mark its 30th anniversary.
When Uli Rübke’s father replaced his old walk-behind mower with a John Deere ride on tractor in 1983, everything changed. Suddenly, everyone wanted to mow his garden – and even after 30 years, they still do. From hauling logs and trailers to mowing football pitches and orchards, the John Deere 111 has earned its keep over the years. Now it’s enjoying a well-earned retirement – but still starts first time and is always ready if needed.
Over the years, a trusted companion.
“The neighbours have bought six or seven cheap ride on mowers since we got this”, Uli smiles as he pats his machine proudly. “None of them lasted long. Ours may be a bit scruffy, but it’s well maintained. It even has the original front tyres.”
With his watchful eye and steady manner, Uli Rübke is exactly how you’d imagine a certified inland water captain to be. From the bridge of his 13m tug, he commands a powerful dredger that keeps the river Aller open for leisure and passenger craft. After 40 years of service, Uli knows the waters here like the back of his hand. His feeling for machinery is legendary among colleagues: if anyone treats his tug roughly in his absence, Uli can tell the moment he takes the wheel and starts the six-cylinder Mercedes diesel.
“In the kitchen of the family’s brick-and-beam farmhouse in Wittlohe (Lower Saxony) is a framed picture of the parade with which Uli, wife Silke and son Mark celebrated their John Deere’s 30th anniversary. Although they only invited the neighbours, word soon spread to the surrounding villages. On the big day, no fewer than 27 ride on mowers turned out to pay their respects, led by Uli and his trusty 111.
Uli’s son Mark learned the finer points of mowing from his grandfather, and can still remember the day he was finally old enough to drive the family John Deere. Now that Mark is training to be a mechatronics engineer, he appreciates John Deere quality more than ever. The cap Mark is wearing in the picture is not the only heirloom to have survived the passage of time: as the third generation of Rübkes to play in goal, Mark still wears his grandfather’s quilted football shorts for special matches.
While the Rübkes value quality and tradition, they also move with the times. As part of a close-knit community, the family supports several ambitious projects that use state-of-the-art technology to preserve or improve the quality of life for locals and visitors alike. Recently completed schemes include building and running a new village shop on a co-operative basis, and installing a solar-powered passenger ferry across the river – a feat that took years of patience and perseverance to achieve.
It’s part of the family now.
When the family bought a new mower two years ago, it went without saying that it had to be a John Deere. “Our new X155R has the same build quality as the 111, plus lots of technical improvements that make things easier, like the double-layer collector.” The notion of trading in their old machine never occurred to the Rübkes, although they’re sure it’s still worth a bit. “It’s part of the family now”, Silke explains with a shrug. “We’ll never part with it. When the day finally comes, we’ll probably just bury it in the garden.”