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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jul 2, 2010

Last week I told about the tractor ride that I was going to participate in western Iowa on Sunday. This was because I had written earlier this year that I did not understand the appeal of a tractor ride.

I farm with old tractors, mainly late ’70s and ’80s, and I get as much old tractor driving as I care for every spring and fall.

However, I appreciated the invitation to drive to Manning and took the offer of the man who not only invited me, but also offered to furnish me with a tractor to drive.

Here it is a few days later, the ride has been completed and I am left with the memories of a 30-mile ride through three counties. I sat on a Farmall 300 with a torque amplifier that worked so well I drove in 5th gear, pulling the TA back to go around corners.

I live in northcentral Iowa near the Minnesota border (which makes me a borderline farmer) where the land has a slight roll to it.

In western Iowa, at any particular moment, you are either going uphill or downhill. My wife observed that drainage was not a problem around there. Rain hits the ground and keeps on moving.

A rainfall of around 2 to 3 inches during the night added some uncertainty to the day’s events, but by 9:30 Sunday morning, around 80 tractors and drivers were ready to roll.

There were even patches of blue showing up in the somewhat overcast sky.

An airplane circled us a couple times and from its perspective, our column of tractors must have looked like ants leaving the anthill.

It was quite a mix of tractors, as well. The participants seemed to have the belief that “you run what you brung.” While there were tractors that were looking as good as new, there were tractors that looked like they had just come off the job.

Faded paint, a bent muffler, a John Deere whose pulley had grooves in it so deep I took a photo of just of the pulley; there was a tractor that looked like it had caught fire under the hood and the hood had yet to be put back on.

This was not a beauty pageant. This was tractor driving just for the fun of tractor driving.

Tractors had to be pre-1973, which meant there were no tractors with cabs. It was an open-air event.

Cresting a hill, where one can look for several miles in all directions across the lowland and back up to the highland, makes a person appreciate the unrestricted view, and the continuous supply of fresh air that is inhaled the entire ride.

Did I enjoy the three-plus-hour ride? You bet I did. Here is my list of five reasons to join in a tractor ride.

Would you look at all those bloomin’ wildflowers!

At tractor speeds, every farmstead can be scrutinized as you pass by.

Not only can you see the livestock, you can smell the livestock (that is a good thing).

People wave to you and you get to wave back.

What a totally cool way to get sunburned.

So after several years as an observer of tractor rides, I became a participant.

It was a great day in great country with great people. Tractor rides are wonderful whether you are on the road driving or next to the road waving.

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

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