Night Shift on a Crawler Tractor

Dryland farming demanded ’round the clock effort, exposed to the elements on board a crawler tractor.

| May 2019

d4-cat
The D4 Cat hooked to the two 3-bottom Plows. Since the tractor was used almost daily in extremely dusty conditions, a tall extension pipe was fitted to the air cleaner to give the engine as much clean air as possible.

There is an old saying that, “A man works from sun to sun. A woman’s work is never done.” There never seems to be controversy as to the truth of that. However, there was a time when, in some places in rural America, where, if the man was a farmer, his field work was never done.

That is because there were not enough hours to accomplish what needed to be done with the resources at hand. But even if one came up short, getting close was considered acceptable. It was understood that a successful crop year required unique efforts by everyone involved.

Every farming operation is different. This discussion pertains to the author’s personal experiences of being “a small cog in a big wheel” in a family farm’s marathon effort in the spring to prepare for the summer farming season. Much of what I did as a teenage farm employee was what others of my age were doing for other farmers.



Six 12s and room and board

You see, we lived in a high altitude valley with a very short growing season. From the time the deep snow melted and the ground dried up enough that field work could begin, almost all high school “kids,” as we were referred to, had employment opportunities. We didn’t know it at the time, but local farmers desperately needed our help. That didn’t translate into high pay, but as a general rule, we were well treated.

The usual arrangement was a daily wage, along with room and board (I got $4 a day room and board. Adult employees got $8 a day with no room and board). Since farming operations were some distance from our little town, the young employees lived with the farmer’s family, slept where they had room for us and ate meals with them. On Saturday nights, our parents would drive out and get us for our day off.



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