I didn’t know it at the time, but the harvest of about four years ago would be memorable for a reason I wouldn’t realize until this year.
It was the last time I drove a tractor.
My son was running the combine and I was unloading the wagons into the pit where the auger was filling the holding bin.
It was pleasant work with a short haul and good weather.
Since then I haven’t been needed at planting or harvesting.
I haven’t even been sent out to pick up a rock or to back up a tractor to hitch to a wagon.
I am not totally removed from tractor driving; I drive a riding lawn mower that resembles a tractor.
It has a water-cooled, four-cylinder engine, a PTO, but no three-point hitch and no power steering.
It is an International Harvester model 185 Low Boy built in the early 1980s.
I bought it used a few years ago and it still does a good job.
A logical question would be, “Don’t you miss driving a real, full-sized farm tractor pulling something, anything, across a field?”
My answer is, “No, I don’t.”
I’ve had my 60 years of tractor driving and I am satisfied.
If I ever get the urge, there are tractors around here that I can climb on and do something.
I do have my eye on another tractor that I would like to drive once again. It’s an Oliver 550.
I like it because it has a six-speed transmission, a three-point hitch, and (gasp) power steering.
That is quite a step up from my lawn mowing tractor, even if it is about 20 years older.
It has the distinction of arriving on this farm as a new tractor when it was bought by my uncles in the early 1960s and has never left the farm.
It does need attention. First items would be fresh gas, putting air in a couple tires, a battery, and it does need carburetor work as it has sat still for several years.
I do have a plan for the Oliver once it is running dependably. It is just the tractor for tilling the garden.
See, I’m still farming, just on a smaller scale.
There could be other jobs, but tilling will be the first and probably main job.
A small snow blower would be a temptation, but blowing snow without a cab is not all that enjoyable.
So here I am tractor dreaming, but not for a large, high-power, four-wheel drive with a comfortable cab, auto steer, and all the latest conveniences; but a low-powered tractor that I would have admired when I was a teenager.
And best of all, the tractor is already here. No borrowed money; no annual payments.
I have heard that in later life, to make their lives easier and simpler as their needs are less, people will downsize.
It wasn’t until just now that I learned it applied to tractors.
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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