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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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