The lure of an old barn is irresistible. The more weathered, cluttered, and dimly lit, the better. Dusty coils of rope, pallets, tools worn from use, bits of baling twine scattered on the dirt floor, an old mule collar, assorted tractor attachments biding their time, and oh…my…heavenly…stars! I spot a tantalizing glimpse of something under a tarp. Is that…is that…a TRACTOR! An old, faded tractor covered in greasy dust? Is it missing much metal? Does it run? How long has it been sitting there? Look at the tires; are they rotten and flat, or could we salvage them? May I crawl up and sit? You must ask, you know. Rule number one: never, never, never touch another man’s tractor without his express permission. But we’ll get to that another day.
My husband offered me a choice. A diamond anniversary ring or an old, busted-up tractor. I thought about the diamond, but that little Oliver Super 55 was just so dadgum cute. It ran, there was very little rust, and the tires were okay. How could I possibly pick a rusty tractor over a shiny diamond? Easy. I think it’s in the blood. My mother’s family owned a large farm in LaFollette, Tennessee. Courtesy of a Delco-Light Plant, the Sharp farm way up on the mountain had power before the town lights ever twinkled below. Each year I wind my way up the mountain to see that the house still stands, but it saddens me that the huge barns have been torn down. What a sight they must have been at night, lit up so my great-granddaddy could do his chores by electric light. He and my granddaddy plowed sunup to sundown with two mules (Sadie and Rhody). Can you imagine the thrill of buying that first tractor and realizing how many precious hours of daylight would be saved?
This thrill is what many vintage tractor enthusiasts feel when looking at tractors. We must look at each tractor appreciatively, noticing the painstaking details put into each antique beauty. The restoration may be authentic to the original or made into something more creative, but each tractor at a show is unique and beautiful. Then there are saw mills, horse-drawn equipment, steam engines, and hit and miss engines. At some shows you can learn to spin yarn, work metal, or any number of old-time homestead skills. If you have not refreshed yourself on a hot day with ice cream churned using power from a hit and miss engine, I feel sorry for you.
This blog is dedicated to fellow enthusiasts (we are not nuts; we are enthusiasts). As my school year winds down and the relaxed pace of summer begins, I hope to share some of the sights, sounds, and people involved with this passion.