Some 35 years ago, this time of the year found me climbing into the cab of a John Deere 8650 tractor, like the one pictured, if I wasn’t behind the windshield of a Patrol Car. It was a behemoth, capable of pulling big implements with the reassuring drum of a turbo diesel that hardly broke a sweat. Piloting one of these machines involved a pre-flight not unlike piloting an airplane. There were a dozen or so lube points that needed refreshing and a walk around was always in order to check for stuff that wasn’t where it was supposed to be, bent or otherwise not pleasing to the eye. The filter in the cab A/C needed to be cleaned and the glass touched up for another day in the dust that a huge field cultivator was going to soon raise. You accomplished this check list while the big tanks were taking on another load of diesel fuel. It was a second identity for a guy who traced his roots to a “Poppin” Johnny on a 40 acre tobacco spread in rural South Carolina. Both events were on “family” farms, soon to be relegated to the status of dinosaurs, replaced by mega farms owned by mega companies, many of which are Chinese in origin. It was hard work and I loved every minute of it.
Yesterday, I climbed on a 22HP lawn tractor and mowed the lawn for the first time this year. The Cub Cadet started on the first key turn and for just a second, I was reminded of the honesty and effort it takes to groom Mother Earth. My “spread” today is a corner yard and our produce begins life in colorful 5 gallon buckets strategically placed around the perimeter of the back yard. Neighbors on all sides are dedicated to lawn maintenance, evidenced in the curb appeal of their residences. Our livestock is in the form of humming birds, robins and doves who stop for a little chow as they nest and do bird things in the spring. My implements include a string trimmer, hedge trimmers and leaf blower with a pair of lopping shears to guarantee the symmetry of our relatively young trees. I love yard work and prefer a walk behind mower, however arthritic feet don’t share my enthusiasm for the effort to manicure a lawn behind a push mower. Today, the big tractors can lay a line on a multi-acre field with the precision reflecting the magic of the GPS guidance found in the cab. The straight lines you see on today’s farms are the result of technology or an inordinately skilled tractor driver who takes pride in his work. Our yard reflects this same commitment to precision. The big John Deere and little Cub, each in their own way, provide a link to the ground we depend on. There is immense pleasure in shaping the earth from the seat of a 300HP tractor……or shaping a lawn from a little Cub Cadet.
In the end, it is the earth, tools, machinery and a willing human being that sustains our brief life cycle on earth. It doesn’t stop there. Most of us are destined to spend eternity shrouded in ground set aside for that purpose. My plans include a National Cemetery where a tractor of some sort will keep the ground immaculate, reflecting the orderly lifestyle of each of the folks interred there, if only for a few years in their past. It is spring and nature is a multi-sensory experience. Sit on the porch or your deck and listen, take a deep breath and note the scents of spring. If you are truly blessed, and live in the country, listen for the new calf talking to his mother or working equipment. Smile as you contemplate starting a tractor or mower and working the ground, whether it be a hay field, bean field or your lawn. While you are at it, say a prayer for those whose existence is on the cold concrete of a city, where nature is a green way they drive by at 60 MPH. They may never know……
Two tractors. With just a little imagination, the distance between them isn’t all that far! Grab a little nature today……
Have a good week!
2 thoughts on “A Tale OF Two Tractors…..”
Great article. I absolutely love my tractor time. Cutting new hay is my favorite of all my tractor time. Although not 300hp, you’re welcome any time to stop by and enjoy some time in our new Kubota 71 hp that has air, heat and country western on the dial. It even keeps my maglite and phone recharged.
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Thanks, Leland. I’ll take you up on it this spring. I have owned a M/F 65, a M/F 165 and a John Deere 48 HP 4WD. None are in a class with the Kubota…which also has superior hydraulics. Tractor time is precious…….