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Submitted Article
Women and Tractors
View of the Farmer's Wife
by Teri Burkholder

The View from the Garage

Never a doubt, everything on our farm is a learning experience. I've been working very hard to get our two rundown Farmall A's sanded, primed , bondo’d, fiberglassed and painted before our big local tractor show called the Tulip Festival.

My husband Ben came in the garage one rainy day to see if he could "help". Well if you knew Ben you wouldn't want him anywhere near your spray gun, fiberglass or bondo! So I pulled out the 2 old yucky looking magnetos and said "Here, test these and see if they work". He sat down at the workbench, played with them for about 10 minutes and said "I've never seen one of these before, let alone be able to fix one!" Just then I pulled out a book on "How to repair Magnetos" and said "just for you". Well, now he was on a mission. He had directions!

He took the better of the two magnetos and started taking it apart piece by piece and was doing a great job. I was feeling comfortable that he was involved enough not to want to paint again so I started back into my painting. All was going well for about 5 minutes when I hear him say “Ouch! It works!”. He had found out how to complete the current with his fingers on the coil and by turning the wheel on the magneto.

I'll always remember looking over at him at that eventful moment as he flinched from the jolt of electricity he got zapped with.

Then he asked, “Do you have anything else I can do?" To save him further pain I replied “Not right now, we'll wait until your fingers heal”.

The View from the Hood of an 8N Tractor

Ben was short on fence posts and he went to see a gentleman that he knew had some Locust trees on his property. They talked and the gentleman wanted them cleared out for a pond to be dug. Ben was glad to be able to get the trees for posts.

We went home and grabbed one of our trusty Ford 8n's that isn't painted up yet and got the old chain saw and the log hauler that has a 3 pt hookup to the back of the tractor. Away we went to the woods to cut fence post.

It was a nice cool day around 32 degrees and sunny and the ground was thawing out. It was down right muddy! Ben and Alvin (one of our workers) cut down trees, pre-measured them for the exact length of the post and cut them to that length. Then if they weren’t too big, I would drag them over to the tractor and load them on the hauler on the back of the Ford 8N tractor. A full load is about 20 posts.

Alvin would drive the tractor out of the muddy woods and up the hill to the road where we would load them on the pickup to take home. He had hauled 4 loads and the path was getting muddier by the minute! We did one more load and got stuck. He tried to get her out but she kept getting stopped and turned around. He was getting farther away from the road the more he tried. Finally after a lot of patience and shifting he managed to get up to the road… about 100 yards from where he was suppose to be.

Well, Ben came up and wanted to clear another area farther down the hill. (Uh-oh) He took the good old Ford 8N down the muddy hill into the patch of trees to be cut. It was our last haul for the day and he wanted to get them all out in one trip. About 45 of them!

Alvin saw the load on the back and he took off in the other direction. (Hoping Ben didn’t want him to drive it out of the woods). But no, Ben wanted to drive it out himself. He had quite a snake path to come back up out of the woods. I stood close by to make sure he didn't lose any posts off the back.

He started to spin in the mud and with all those posts on the back end the front of the tractor started coming off the ground. It wouldn't stay down! He kept trying and pretty soon he yells "Teri, lay on the hood of the tractor! I need a lot of weight up there!" Well you can guess I wasn't happy that he felt "I" had the "weight" to hold all this tractor "down" let alone laying on a tractor hood while going up a hill with Ben driving! But with a lot of complaining, I laid on the hood of the tractor facing Ben with my feet on the front axles on either side of the hood. What a picture!

Ben takes off and we're sliding all over and I’m yelling at him to slow down and he's yelling cause he can't see over me! We finally get out of the mud and up the hill and we only lost 5 posts.

Alvin is standing by the truck laughing at us. He said all he could see was me straddling the hood of the tractor yelling at Ben "you're crazy" up through the woods! Well Alvin's comment was that he thought we were both crazy.

We had a lot of fun with that 8N Ford and will remember that ride for awhile.

Next time we get fence posts it will be drier and on flat ground and only 20 posts per load instead of 45.

Patience is a Virtue

I have heard this quote a million times and I have never been able to make it work for me. Not until recently, anyway. This story gets its start back in February of 1996.

Ben and I had gone to Canada for a tractor auction. That is where I fell in love with the cutest little thing! It was an Economy lawn and garden tractor. It sold for over $3000 … obviously not to me. I may have been in love but I wasn't insane. Just as I was feeling really sorry for myself and my misfortune, I remembered where I had seen another one of these little darlings. It was sitting in a weed patch not far from home.

I forced Ben into the car and we set off on a mission. We drove straight to the weed patch that I knew was home to "my" tractor. Ben had barely brought the car to a stop when I was out and sprinting off across the lawn to where I was sure the tractor sat. Sure enough, it was the same tractor. The owner came out and I told him I would like to buy this little tractor. His reply was devastating.. He had just sold her! I almost went into tractor shock, but I controlled myself and asked him for how much? Oh $200.00! I almost cried. He felt so bad at seeing my reaction to all this news that he offered me a Gibson tractor. We reluctantly bought it just to ease the pain. I did restore the Gibson, and she’s great! But it just wasn't the tractor I had dreamed about having.

I tried to forget her and Ben helped by buying me a Farmall A for Christmas. I wrapped my restoration fever around her to keep me busy. It was a lot of work and took up a lot of time. But I still couldn't get that Ecomony tractor out of my mind!

One nice day in January of 1998, Ben and I went for a ride and just happened to go past the place where my Economy had been. On a whim, we decided to stop and see if he had anything for sale. We walked around behind the house and looked at lots of Farmall's and John Deeres. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a blue tarp thrown over a small framed tractor. Curiosity made me lift the tarp. To my astonishment, there, sat the very same Economy tractor I had wanted to buy two years before! But now, it's engine was rebuilt, there were new tires and a little bit better paint job. "Is she for sale?" I asked. “Sure is!”, came the reply. How's $300.00? Well, I’m sure my jaw could be heard hitting the pavement two counties away. And this is obviously where "patience is a virtue" comes in!

Ben was quick to say "Valentine’s Day is coming! How about I get it for you?” What a wonderful gift.

Most of my family could not seem to understand why I was so excited about a tractor for Valentine's Day. But flowers are gone in a week, and the chocolates go straight to your hips but my cute little Economy tractor will be here for years and years to come.

Now she is newly restored with a little red heart painted on her frame to remind me of my very special Valentine's Day in 1998.

Thank you Ben for making wishes come true.

Ten Tips for a Happy Life

- every time you buy a tractor-buy your wife a gift (buying her a tractor doesn't count)

-when you rush in from the workshop to call the parts store-lay down a path of newspapers from the door to the phone-and stand on them!

-when you come in to get your wife to help you for "just a minute" you have to promise not to yell at her - no matter what!

-when you are on a family trip, you will limit yourself to only 2 stops per trip to look at tractors or parts for tractors.

-when you do stop to look for just a minute you will limit yourself to 1 hour!

-tractors do not have priority when it comes to garage space over your wife's car.

-Leaving your wife as collateral for a tractor is not acceptable behavior!!

-You will never again utter the words "Honey, I need a pull".

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