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Carats and horsepower

By Staff | Oct 16, 2015

I became acquainted with an older woman this past summer who was here with her daughter and son-in-law.

Actually, this woman was our landlady, and we had not previously met. So as we dined on some local cuisine, we sat next to each other and visited up a storm.

The fact that she had worked hard in her life showed in her slow and paced walk. Yet, she was determined to get where she was going. Life lines showed on her face, tattling on years of working outside in the sun, along with all the facial lines that farming and family give us over the years-lines of worry, laughter, fear, stress and hard work.

As we sat side by side getting to know each other, we got to talking about our husbands, since they both chose the same vocation albeit, in different generations. Her husband had been gone for some time, but it was plain to see that their lives together had been happy.

Let me say next that there are men who know how to woo a woman, and then there are men who just get out there and cut right to the chase. This woman’s farmer husband orchestrated both of those follies one Christmas with great thought and cat-like prowess.

For all their years together, this woman worked alongside her husband, getting the farming done. She had her own tractor, and he had his. She was very proud of having her own tractor, and was possibly Iowa’s original version of Gloria Steinem.

She told of one year when her husband had purchased a new tractor. The tractor was very nice, she said, but was too big for their much smaller field cultivator, which she operated.

She said she couldn’t believe he would buy such a big tractor for a comparatively smaller field cultivator, yet they used it because they had it.

One Christmas morning in the time following that purchase, she discovered that her gift from her husband wouldn’t fit under the tree. She couldn’t have imagined it, but sitting outside was a new tractor for her.

When the business world started up again following the holiday, she dialed up their insurance agent to put her new tractor on their policy. She said, “I need to get some insurance for my Christmas present.”

Her agent chuckled and said, “How many carats is it?”

The woman laughed slyly and peered at me as she said boldly, “I told him, ‘I’m not talking carats. I’m talking horsepower.’ “

Farmers are creative people. He aced his holiday gift-giving that year by making her

happy with a new tractor and increasing his popularity rating in one smooth move. He could get the work done, write it off on their taxes, take it out for a spin himself and enjoy thinking about his wife bragging of his thoughtfulness to all her friends.

He was a genius. And she was back beside him in the field.

By comparison, I was just as happy the Christmas my husband made me a hand-crafted trash barrel, complete with a lid and an incinerator-like exhaust pipe. I didn’t have to chase the burning trash that flew out of the barrel anymore and all of the trash fit in there in one trip.

He was a genius. And I gained 10 pounds from not chasing the trash around and carrying it all out in one trip.

Apparently wife-wooing comes in many forms. But our landlady and I were both happy.

And there weren’t even any carats involved.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net and at www.karenschwaller.com.

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