Lessons in Farming with a Tractor

| 6/22/2012 11:36:29 AM

Sam Plowing with horses 

We’ve all heard stories about the neighbor, uncle or grandfather, who after farming with horses all his life finally bought a tractor. Following careful instructions from the dealer, the new tractor owner got the machine started, and was going along pretty well, when some unexpected occurrence (such as the end of a row) demanded an immediate stop. All thought of clutches and brakes fled the operator’s mind and he hauled back mightily on the steering wheel and hollered “Whoa!” for all he was worth, while the tractor continued merrily on through the fence, into the creek, or whatever.

I don’t have any such stories of my own to tell. My grandfather never drove a motor vehicle as far as I know. He owned cars, which were driven by his sons, but always farmed with horses. When my dad and my uncle took over the farm and bought a tractor, Nandad was content to ride the mower or the binder and leave the driving to others.

Sometime ago, a friend sent me an account of his grandfather’s experiences with his first tractor and gave me permission to retell the tale.

Here’s the somewhat edited story:

“My grandparents, who were getting on in age, were ‘dyed in the wool,’ small mom and pop farmers. Their annual income, which was probably less than we spend in a month, was derived from sales of milk, butter, eggs and vegetables taken to a curb market in Franklin, Pennsylvania. With that, the stage is set!


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