A few years ago, Meghan Bush used her pick-up truck to tow a 1943 cherry red Farmall tractor down Main Street in Patchogue with her father riding on top of it.
It’s one of the thousands of farming tools and equipment 78-year-old Ron Bush has acquired to create a private farming museum on Long Island, which he maintains at Bush Farms in South Haven.
On a portion of land he purchased on the former Robinson Duck Farm, Ron Bush has 13 tractors and 20 trucks dating to the 1920s, many of which are still used. And above the old dairy barn he houses everything from vegetable choppers and yarn winders to sausage stuffers and a hand-carved grain scoop circa 1700.
Bush began working on farms with his grandfather Israel Katz in Holtsville and his uncle Abe Katz at Dune Alpin Farm in East Hampton when he was a child.
His grandfather and uncle didn't want Ron Bush to become a farmer because of the physical toll it takes. So Bush decided to pursue a career in commercial and industrial real estate.
“My uncle saw the writing on the wall before he died at 69,” said Ron Bush, of Bayport. “They did not want me to get tied up in it.”
But he didn’t stop farming nor did his daughter. He would leave Ron Bush Real Estate Inc. in Patchogue at 3 p.m. and head to the Holtsville farm to work with his daughter until about 8 p.m.
Bush sold his real estate agency in 1999 after strong suggestions from his wife, Nancy. He then started devoting his time to growing crops at various farms where he rented land.
“He would come home after dark, exhausted,” said his wife of 51 years. “I told him you can’t keep doing this. It’s too much for anybody.”
Through the years, Ron Bush and his 46-year-old daughter have overcome many hardships, including a car accident 20 years ago that left her in a coma for more than two weeks. She has recovered 95 percent of what she lost and “I still see her getting better every day,” Ron Bush said.
Their relationship is different from the typical father-daughter relationship.
“They work together,” Nancy Bush said. “They’re like an old married couple. They bicker.”
Ron Bush thinks about his daughter’s future and is trying to make things a little easier for her.
“We sold six tractors and six trucks in the past year cause we didn’t need them,” Bush said. “I’m just downsizing so I don’t leave it all for Meghan.”