Friday, April 20, 2012

I Got Friends with Tractors

They’ll grow your groceries, haul a load
Pull you out then fix the road
They’re good at slowin’ speeders down
When they pass through from out of town
I’ll live out in the country
Happily ever after
I got everything I need
‘Cause I got friends with tractors.
                                           -Rodney Atkins

It’s that time of year…the time when field work starts in earnest.  That means all the tractors must be running and ready to do all that tractors do.

There are a number of tractor brands, each with its fiercely loyal fans and owners.  John Deere green is by far the most popular in our part of the world, but there are all sorts of machines to get the job done. The loyalties of brand run deep…don’t try to convince anyone that a “green tractor” is the same as a red one, an orange one…or a blue one.  That’s akin to heresy!

It’s not unusual to see tractors on the road as the farmers move from field to field. When the line of traffic following the tractor gets too long, the farmer will pull over and wave everyone around before continuing on his way.  Occasionally a tractor can even be spotted in the parking lot of the local store or post office…or the tastee-freeze.

While the BIG tractors get the glory (and are cool to ride), the small utility tractors and even garden tractors do a great deal of work on the smaller operations. 

There are tractors for planting and haying and mowing and hauling.  We can recognize the farmer by the tractor...Eddie's is ancient and green, Bill's is small and red, Jason's is always broken down,Dale's is orange...and RG has a whole bunch of green ones.  For every farm job, there is a tractor. I suppose you could say a tractor is to a farmer what a horse is to a cowboy.

Tractors are iconic in the rural landscape.  Farms would be far less productive without them, and farmers can wax poetic about the advantages of their particular machine. I can think of a number of songs about tractors…”International Harvester” and “Big Green Tractor” come to mind. One year at the county fair, I noticed that one of our fellow farmer-friends has “She thinks my TRACTOR is sexy!” (a Kenny Chesney song) tattooed on his shoulder.  Now, whenever I hear the song on the radio, I think of that farmer and his sun-burned tattoo and have to grin to myself.

There are old tractors, new tractors, tractors in need of repair and restored antique tractors.  Everywhere you look, you’ll find a tractor of some sort. County fairs and firemen’s parades wouldn’t be the same without the tractor entries.

When I was a little girl, I remember riding with Dad on his ancient Massey-Harris tractor as he made hay.  I sat up on the fender and watched as he cut with an equally ancient sickle mower. I remember the feel of the sun and the wind on my face as I hung on for dear life.  With no safety equipment as he mowed on the side of a hill, this was a dangerous ride…but, that experience solidified my appreciation for tractors and our agricultural way of life.

Years later, when we first moved to the Valley, I would ride with the Boss in a similar fashion as he went out to feed hay to cows during the winter. It was my job to hop off and open gates and keep the cows at bay as their breakfast was delivered.

There’s just somethin’ about a tractor…

Yeah, man, talkin’ ‘bout
Internationals, and John Deeres
Massey-Fergusons, whatever you got
We don’t discriminate
Front end loaders, bushhogs, post hole diggers
Need ‘em, gotta have ‘em

So, next time you get behind that slow moving vehicle, and you have to putt along until the farmer waves you around…don’t be frustrated at the delay…give him a big ole wave and a smile. That farmer (and the tractor) is an integral part of the food system in this country!

                            I’ll live out in the country
                           happily ever after
                           I got everything I need
                          ‘Cause I got friends w
ith tractors.


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