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
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
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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