I'm not into gender dominance. Displays of radical feminism, like those of male machismo, miss their mark with me. Having said that, I confess to a dark flicker of joy as I ride my big Farmall-H tractor down Bethel Lane, and tip my hat to the men piddling around their yards on little lawn tractors. Eye level with my wheel hubs, they seem to be playing at mowing. Hey, ho! Am I up top or what?
Getting to drive a tractor is one of the many blisses and bonuses of dairy farming. It's almost as mood-lifting, in a wholly different way, as milking cows. Since purchasing my "H" at a farm auction some six years ago, I've spent untold hours on its red metal seat in hay fields, on the road, and hauling loads of mulch and manure from the front to the back pastures of the farm. With some new parts and servicing it's proven to be a highly utile, dependable, and rugged machine. It may not be the thing of beauty it was once, some 40 or 50 years ago, but it runs as if it might last forever.
I was afraid of all that horsepower at first, but once I became comfortable with the gears, adjustable throttle, and the tractor's center of gravity on slopes, I found it delightful to drive. I vastly prefer it to the car or pickup for short trips on the open road.
It's not only a matter of sitting on high in the open air, though that's part of it. It's the response I get. Neighbors, hearing me coming, step out to wave; folks mowing their lawns look up and lift a hand; kids smile back from the cars that swing around and pass me. It all goes to show that farming as a way of life is passing in this increasingly urbanized area. The sight and sound of a tractor - much less an old Farmall - is not as common as it once was.