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Mighty Mouse (A Ford Story)

When I was growing up we had a 9N Ford tractor with a loader. I remember the day it came to the farm quite unexpected to me.I was six years old at the time. My attention was called to it by the school bus driver when he turned around in the driveway to let me off. He commented that he didn't know we had a Ford, and I replied that I didn't either! After giving it a quick once over I headed to the house to change clothes and have a snack prior to my after school work day which at the time consisted of mixing milk replacer for the bucket calves.Of course I had to interogate my mother as to the appearance of that little offbreed tractor on our otherwise predomanently Deere powered farm. (I had come to accept the Farmall M as it had to stay around for the mounted corn picker)..I was informed that the JD B with the loader had been traded in on that little misshapen grey thing!! The explanaition that it was small enough to fit inside the barn did little to comfort me, and I made up my little mind right then and there that even though that Ford was there I didn't have to like it!

I did mellow out somewhat when I was allowed to drive it, and had to admit that it was size compatible to me at the time.(This was prior to a series of growth spurts on my part) I even developed a certain degree of affection for the little fellow, though I never admitted to it. The little fenders looked like ears and the headlights looked like beady little eyes, giving it a resemblence to America's favorite rodent down there in Orlando so it became known as 'The Mouse'. The Wagner loader hanging out the front would lift more than my back, so that gained it a few points too.

As I got older I spent many hours on that little mouselike tractor, developing something of a love/hate relationship with it. I enjoyed the responsibility of keeping several miles of roadsides mowed, and carrying feed to the cattle at the other farms. Before I had a driver's license it was my main between farm transportation..easier to carry stuff and classier than my bike! I also cut my eyeteeth as a mechanic (at least I thought I was a mechanic) on that tractor. The worm and sector steering gear was totally worn out and my Dad didn't want to spend the money to replace everything needed so it had a tendency to knock out the bottom bearing, letting the front wheels turn towards each other. This gave it the appearance of a pigeon toed mouse and did nothing for its ease of steering. I got quite efficient at jockeying it to just the right position under the chain hoist branch of my cottonwood shadetree workshop, unbolting the base of the steering housing and lifting it up with a makeshift sling, just high enough to get in to replace the bearing. One time a roller from the old bearing slipped down into the transmission and managed to find it's way between two gears. A more powerful engine could have done some serious damage to the gearbox, but they were an even match so it was a simple matter of pulling the top off and fishing it out.

The day the Mouse earned its real stripes is still a rather painful memory for me. I was 14 at the time and had been promoted to field hand. I got too close to a peat bog with the John Deere 3020 I had been assigned to with rather unfavorable results. The other 'real' tractors were busy at other distant fields, and the only tractor available was the Mouse, with my mother being the only available driver. After a long walk to the house I recruited her and fired up the little Ford. It was with great apprehsion that we headed out to the field where my fallen steed sat at a rather pathetic angle, one pair of duals a foot into the bog and the other pair down to the wheel weights. The drawbar had disapeared into the muck. The 3020 had a tricycle front end which was a big mass of mud. There wasn't enough room under the oil pan for a medium sized cat to walk through without ducking. With a 'nothing ventured/nothing gained attitude we hooked 30 feet of chain between the two tractors at an angle, Mom got on the Ford, I got on the Deere, we engaged clutches, and lo and behold, the front end of the 3020 swung around, the deeper buried wheel came up out of the hole, and it was free of its muddy prison!

If tractors had egos that 9N would have had an inflated one that day, not to mention the 3020 having a shattered one! And my mother, siezing the opportunity was quick to tell everybody about the incident.This didn't help the situation at all. She had an affection for the little Mouse and thought I had too much of an 'If it ain't Deere it ain't squat' attitude at the time. It was she who decide that from that day on the 9N was to be refered to as 'Mighty Mouse'!

I did get the last laugh a couple of years later when the Ford was retired and a loader with a hydraulic bucket (along with a wide front) was installed on the 3020...it didn't have the personality of the Ford but it sure got a lot more work done!!

New-Gen, entered 2005-04-25
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