While many think that tractor activities are restricted to nice weather conditions, someone neglected to share this information with my husband. Our family had endured a month of zero degree temperatures, cold-to-the-bone wind chill factors and the daily tromp through powdery snow that was becoming more gray and glazed over with each passing week.
We weren’t suffering, mind you. We gathered ourselves around the warm wood stove. I cooked soups and breads, filling the house with inviting smells. We read stories to the kids, played tractors on the floor, I even tried to teach the oldest child how to tie his shoes and when we were tired of all that, we could turn on the television or the stereo. This was nice for a week, maybe two, until the kids began climbing the furniture and using the center of our house as a race track. I could see that we needed to get out of the house or the house wouldn’t survive.
That’s why when we woke up that morning to drip, drip, drip, I knew it was going to be a good day. The weather had warmed up to just above freezing…enough for the big thaw to start and, more importantly, enough for the snow to pack, which meant snowballs, snowmen and whatever else you might dream up.
After breakfast, I put the youngest down for a nap, then bundled up our four-year-old and myself to go meet with “old man winter.” We bounded outdoors with snowmen and sledding in mind. In a short while, my husband, Ronnie, joined us outside, too. I was pleased. Had we made the great white outdoors look so inviting with our activities that he felt compelled to join us? And, too, by this time, I was thinking, “Good, I could use some help pulling this sled.”
My thoughts were short-lived, however, as he walked right past us. He had his own version of fun winter activities in mind. His idea of fun always seems to include a tractor and I am just curious and naive enough to wonder what he’s doing. I trailed behind him, still pulling the sled and child.
I should stop here to explain that midwinter this year, Ronnie brought home two new prizes: a 1937 John Deere “A” and a 1938 John Deere “G.” They really were prizes, too—the most complete antique tractors I can ever remember us buying. They already had green paint on them and we had been told they run, although Ronnie didn’t ever hear proof. He was content to know they were in his possession so after rolling them off the trailer and tying a tarp over them, they sat idle but not forgotten for about a month as cold weather and snow descended upon us.
We watched as he got in his truck and drove back to the two tarped tractors. I could see from a distance that he had hooked a chain to the “G,” then hooked the other end of the chain to his Toyota truck. By now, I was starting to see that I had walked right into his trap. If I were smart, I would have turned back around and headed for the house but I plodded on, knowing I would have to drive the truck or tractor as no man can do both. Neither was a very good choice. You see, I was not raised on a farm. I know very little about tractor driving. What little tractor maneuvers I’ve learned have been to the sound of my husband’s yelling voice. I am convinced that my four-year-old son, Jacob, could do a better job but I’m unwilling to perch him atop a tractor at such a tender age, especially when the tractor is in tow by my husband. This must be the mother’s sixth sense; it’s called safety.
The other option is to drive the truck. This isn’t good either because it’s a stick shift. I haven’t mastered the art of tightening the tow chain without using the clutch too much. This, I am told, burns up the clutch. I was appointed tractor duty.
Since the tractor was parked very close to a building, I had to turn the steering wheel sharply as the truck pulled so the tractor would turn (rather than crash into the building—makes sense). Ronnie’s pulling, pulling, I’m turning, turning, he’s spinning, spinning and nothing’s happening. The tractor steering wheel did not budge an inch. Ronnie’s head pops out the Toyota window. He’s yelling something at me. Hmm, wonder what he said. I am still trying to turn. He yells again. I try to turn the steering wheel even harder. No luck. The truck wheels stop spinning. Ronnie jumps out.
“Turn it!” he yells clearly.
“I’m trying!” I yell back.
“Get in the truck,” is his response. I get in the truck and he seats himself on the tractor. He turns the tractor steering wheel and it responds immediately. Humph! Why couldn’t I do that?
“Tighten the chain!” he hollers.
“OK, I can do this,” I coach myself while a set of little eyes watch me from the passenger seat. I ease out the clutch, the truck rolls forward, clunk—the chain is tight.
“We’re spinning!” My little audience cheers. Well, at least one of us is having fun here. I stop, cut the wheels another way and spin again. Ronnie gets off the tractor, assesses the ruts and chain. He has another idea. He has me back up the truck and then he hooks the chain in a different place. He climbs back on the tractor. “Go!” he says, so I do. WHAM!
My stomach sinks. I forgot to tighten the chain. I look fearfully in the rear view mirror, already knowing I’ve messed up badly. I expect to get royally chewed out. I swing open the truck door to the sound of Ronnie laughing. It wasn’t the response I expected and I was so mad at myself I didn’t know what to do so I stomped and threw my arms and yelled at the top of my lungs, “I HATE TRACTORS!,” which at that moment, I really and truly did. Then I ran all the way to the house, began throwing off my winter wrappings and sat down unable to even cry. A good cry usually makes me feel better and then I can move forward.
About this time, Jacob enters the house and begins taking off his winter garb, too. He’s followed me, concerned that this is not my normal behavior. I knew then that I owed my husband an apology. I pace around a bit, trying to figure out what to say and then I hear the youngest waking up form his nap. “Great,” I think to myself, “I’m going to have to dress three people just to go back out and say I’m sorry to my husband.” Oh well, here goes.
Final notes: We did get the “G” pulled out of its resting place and started. My husband and I are on speaking terms and have both grown from the experience. The Toyota truck sports a personalized V bumper.
Submitted by,Donna Parker