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By Staff | Feb 19, 2010

It is that time of year when next summer’s tractor rides are being scheduled and routes announced. For me, tractor rides are one of life’s mysteries. It is a mystery to me why a person would climb on a tractor and drive to the next stopping point only to get on it and ride again.

I must be missing something. Those who participate are fervent fans. They spend much time in advanced preparations, and then hauling, and then driving, and then hauling back home.

I try to think of a tractor that I would want to drive along a road at about 15 miles an hour and the list gets real short, real fast. I can think of tractors I own and tractors I do not own.

The tractors I do not own would mean they would be bought just for the ride and I do not want to spend that kind of money for a joy ride.

We are down to tractors I own. The tractors I own are not show pieces. I believe they have their original paint from the ’60s and ’70s, or what is left of the original paint, along with scratches, nicks and dents.

The Antique Roadshow calls that a patina. I say the tractors have their working clothes on yet.

Is there a tractor I own that I would consider driving just for the sake of a ride? This is getting difficult. There is the Farmall 826 hydro that I still admire. However, the hydro is in need of repair so I would have to spend money just for the tractor ride. I am not sure it is worth it.

Another possibility is the Allis Chalmers D15 industrial loader tractor. There is one of a kind. Its 46 years of age, show that it has been used. That is why it was bought. I have driven it a couple miles when I had to go to a field to pick up a rock and that was enough. There is my short list.

If I could find my dad’s John Deere 720 diesel he bought new and traded in for the 4010 diesel long ago, I would drive that. But I do not have the serial number so that will never happen. I do have his 4010 though, but that 720 was a classic.

There will not be any tractor rides for me next summer and I do not feel bad about that at all. For me, the best part of the tractor ride is sitting along side of the road watching them go by. I listen to 2-, 4-, and 6-cylinder engines; both gas and diesel while watching the proud owner drive past. He and I are both happy.

I will get all the tractor rides I want next spring during tillage and I will have something to show for it when I am done.

Before you think I am just an old curmudgeon about tractors, I can say I am more of a tractor fan than my dad was. For a few hours, I can become completely absorbed in watching or driving any old tractor. My dad looked at tractors as just so much iron.

I am not sure he would even sit by the road to watch them go by. A tractor for him was to do a job and that was it. It was just another tool for getting his work done.

I am grateful for the tractor ride planners and the riders. This is a group of people so optimistic that they believe there will be a day next summer when the snow is gone and it will be warm again. I hope they are right. I will wave at them as they go by.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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