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Contributed Article

Tractor Power
By Russ Berry

What is this strange attraction I have to equipment and machinery? How did I get this way? I came from the suburbs and own a small horse farm in rural Loudoun County, Virginia. You can call me a "weekend farmer." The local farmers do. Does it bother me? No. I am just happy to have their friendship. At least the word "farmer" is in my title.

But what is the attraction? How can I explain the sensation and exhilaration I feel when I turn the key and hear the engine come to life (most of the time)? How can I describe the fascination with spending hours moving manure from one location to another? What's so interesting about seeing the grass fly out of the discharge chute? Why is it so appealing to carry a huge log out of the woods with the loader, maneuvering gingerly through the trees?

I love getting grease on my hands. I love taking the transmission apart. I love making sparks fly when I sharpen the blades. I appreciate the rule: "the right tool for the right job." I like reading and re-reading a good tool catalog. They come every month. They're always the same. I read every one.

My main tractor uses gasoline. One benefit to me is that I can drive to the local general store and fill up. I look forward to the soda or the popsicle in the summer time or the warmth in the winter. I look forward to the inevitable banter that comes from the "greenies" because I drive a red tractor. I give them my phone number so they can call when they need to be pulled out of the mud.

I tell people that my tractor is as old as my wife. It doesn't run as good though. The comparisons and contrasts are funny to me.

I like the fact that it breaks down. (A green one of that vintage would too.) I am happy that the dealer is right up the road. I like to go in and see all the parts in the bins as Wayne (the parts man) goes to get the dog-eared manual to identify a part. I appreciate the fact that Wayne knows my name. But then Wayne can remember the 9-digit number of a PTO bushing for a 1961 IH- 240 that he looked up 3 weeks ago!

When I leave my desk job I look forward to starting one of my tractors (I have three) and mowing. Why? Why do I look forward to the sweat and noise? When I finish my day at the office, I look back. I don't see a neatly mowed path. I don't see a neat stack of firewood. I don't see a freshly painted barn or a well-tuned engine.

Yes, the plugs will foul, the paint will fade, the wood gets burned, and the grass will grow (weeds, too) and maybe what I do at the office has importance to more people than I know, but I love the power of my tractor.

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