July 6th…“DID YOU GET TO DRIVE TRACTORS ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA??”
To this very day, I’ve had a love affair with tractors n trucks n all that bucks!!! Since I was “knee high to a grasshopper” I was always captured with the power machines of our Farmall-favored farmer father on our sweet agricultural adventure in south central Minnesota. I’m confident that it could’ve been said of our daddy that “from breakfast, to bed, he farmed with red”; this was in reference to his preference to purchasing and using equipment and tractors that were made by the International Harvester Company. Those tractors in his collection included a Farmall F-20, a Farmall Model B, a Farmall Model H and his most powerful worker was a Farmall Super M. For my young readers, I suppose you could understand the Farmall series of tractors like this…….The “B” was like the baby of the family. The “H” was like the teenager. The “Super M” was like the grown up strong muscle-man of the tractor family and the “F20” was like the old grandfather who came before them all 😉
Springtime was usually super muddy in our cowyard as the snows of winter melted away. I vividly remember my hero brother, Lowell, as he had the task of pulling a very full manure spreader, full of cow poo, out to the field one day to spread the load over our fields for fertilizer. The sloppy mud conditions next to our barn seemed to have him stuck as his chevron-cleated rubber tires began to spin. Lowell was wise, though, as he began to use his independent left and right brake pedals to his advantage. First, he’d hold down the left brake (allowing the right tire to spin till it hit hard ground below the muddy surface), then he’d brake the right tire to allow the left to grab solid ground. Back and forth he “walked” that little tractor and manure spreader out of the slimy cowyard and out to the fields.
After our big brother, Lowell, left the farm to start life on his own, it was now my turn to step in to help Dad when it came to tractors and life on our farm. The most exciting, and yet very scary, chapter of my tractor driving came one day when our dad had his biggest Farmall Super M at a repair shop in our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota. Repairs were completed and the tractor needed to be driven back home. On the way into town, Dad shared with me that it was to be my responsibility to drive our “M” back home to the farm while he followed in our old 1950 Ford F-100 pickup. As we headed west, past the bowling alley and out of town, on the paved highway, I shifted that big red beast into what we called “road gear”. As that monstrous machine and I picked up speed, the wide front end of that tractor was just a bouncin’ along while the giant, rubber, chevron-cleated big tires next to my driver’s seat set up their own special “song” as they whined against the smooth asphalt highway beneath us. Even though, in reality, I may have only been cruising at 25 miles per hour or so, to me, it seemed like I was FLYING!!! I was happy and scared spitless, at the same time, hoping I could keep this mechanical marvel on the straight n narrow of that highway and not cause a crash. As we came to the turn-off that would take us down the last stretch of the journey home, I successfully shifted down to third gear and then down to second gear so I could make the turn from highway to gravel road without going too fast. Every so often, I’d make a lightning glance behind me to make sure Dad was still following. He was, and I was proud of myself for bringing the “M” home safely and falling in love with tractors even more for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.