Wales by Massey Ferguson 35

Josephine Roberts fires up her Massey Ferguson 35 for a jaunt around her neighborhood.

| June 2013

The best thing about being out and about on a tractor is that you can’t hear the phone ring, so no one can distract you. The second best thing about being on a tractor is that you move along at the perfect pace for seeing your surroundings. Just slowing down to 15 mph, which is still pretty fast by human standards, allows you to look around. It also makes you realize how much drivers miss as they race by.

As a horse rider I’m also aware that speeding motorists can be deadly, and as someone who enjoys the quiet pace of rural life, I find it infuriating when bad-mannered drivers fail to show consideration for pedestrians, animals and other road users. So for me, driving my tractor is like returning to a quieter era, an era when 15 mph was quite adequate, and back to a time when cars were open-topped and you had to don a warm hat and a pair of gloves before you could take to the road.

As a mother to two young children, it’s a real treat to be able to get out of the house and do something that’s just for me, something that doesn’t involve cleaning, cooking or folding clothes. Most women I know also like a bit of “me time,” but for them that usually involves shopping or going to a spa. However, I’d rather be galloping over the hills on my lovely American Quarter Horse or chugging around the lanes on my little red tractor.

There’s something about being on an old tractor that brings out the singer in me, and I’m rather partial to singing old American tunes as I go. “Rose of Alabama” is my latest song, which I belt out at full volume whilst driving the tractor. Most likely you’ll never meet me, so I could lie at this point and say that I have a voice like an angel, because we Welsh people are renowned for our beautiful singing voices. But I’m going to come clean and say I’ve a voice more like an intoxicated sparrow than an angel. Most of the time here in the countryside there’s no one around to hear me, and if there is, well, that’s just tough.

Fasten your seat belts

From the emails I receive, it seems many of you are curious about what sort of place it is that I live in. In this column I’ll take you on a whistle-stop tour of my part of the Conwy Valley, via tractor of course, because that’s the best way to see the place in my opinion.

We’ll start by going to the tractor shed where my two steeds live, and I have to say that, compared to horses, they are a doddle (easy) to keep. Compared to many hobbies, vintage tractors are quite affordable and low maintenance. Those who’ve spent thousands of dollars on old tractors and those who undertake painstakingly thorough restorations may raise their eyebrows at such a statement, but for me it’s true. Neither of my tractors is particularly rare or expensive, though it’s fair to say that I acquired them before the vintage tractor movement took off and prices began to rise. But even today you can buy an old tractor for £1,000 (about $1,500), or less if you are lucky and don’t mind a bit of work, and you can have a real lot of fun with a tractor like that. After a few years, if you’ve had enough, you can always sell it and be pretty guaranteed to get your money back, if not more.