Addicted to Tractors

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Photo by Carol Ann Sayle


I hate to be an enabler, but here it is. Generally, every male farmer is into tractors. Even before he starts farming, the minute the land is locked down, he's writing the check or signing the note on the tractor. And also for a couple of "implements" that the tractor cannot live without.

Nearly always, the new farmer should not rush to acquire that first tractor; it may be best to rent it. Try it out. Not that he won't need a tractor. But the first one becomes the tractor that doesn't do everything he soon knows must be done.

Does he sell it? No. Does he trade it in for a different one? No. It's not that he loves it less; it's just not enough.

The farmer heeds the need, and suddenly there is another tractor on the farm.

Meanwhile, he buys more implements. Oddly, all of the implements want to be attached to a tractor and busy. Nothing is lonelier than an implement rusting in the weeds. Soon the situation is more complicated. The wrong implement is on the sole tractor.The tool in the weeds is now needed. But, it's time-consuming to wrench one piece of equipment off and another on.

Furthermore, changing tractor implements is a relatively dangerous activity. Finger parts are lost this way. Haven't you seen old farmers at the coffee shop waving their nubs around to make a non-point? It's a cautionary sight.

So, the farmer heeds the need, and suddenly there is another tractor on the farm.

Larry drove the second (used) tractor to our urban farm from the tractor store two miles from us. Puppy-dogging a bit, he said the tractor, bigger and more powerful, will turn the compost pile quickly (saving time), it will hold a steady course through the field (making our beds straighter), and since it will wear the tiller on its three-point hookup, I can till when I desire (without waiting for him to install the tiller on the smaller tractor). Oddly agreeing with him, I now have two tractors, the "Little One" and big "Jaws."

Jaws is named for the powerful metal teeth it carries on its front-end loader bucket. They are useful to pull parts of the compost pile down to loosen the mass for turning, and they help hold the compost in the bucket as I trundle it to the field. And they are scary looking for what that's worth. No one will mess with me when I'm astride Jaws.

But, generally, whenever Larry is at this farm, he's riding Jaws. It's really a man's tractor, even though, at our rural farm, he admits to four other tractors. I wonder if there is a Tractors Anonymous group for this addiction?

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Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

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