It was the fall before our wedding when my fiancé introduced me to field work. I was a bit nervous to drive the tractor–having not grown up on a farm I had no large-machinery-driving-talent– but Amos assured me that I would be fine. The 1972 John Deere powershift he put me on was easy as pudding-pie to drive.
He was right. Other than being completely stressed out about how straight the rows were, the entire experience was actually quite pleasant. (He told me, “keep them as straight as possible! It’s really, really important.” so I carefully lined them up and went over the corners 3-4 times to get them perfectly straightened out. It wouldn’t be until years later that I realized his definition of “straight” and mine were vastly different. But he still brags up my straight wind rows, so I guess I’ll let it slide.)
It really was superb. The bright summer sun. The wind in my hair. The smell of fresh grass. Delightful.
A few days later I was varnishing the ceiling in our little house while he was working at installing the kitchen and I told him, “I really like that tractor, honey. It was so easy to drive.”
About ten minutes later someone knocked on the door and he went to answer while I finished up. He went outside with the man and I happily varnished away, dreaming of the quickly-approaching day when we would be married and I would move to our sweet little honeymoon house on the farm.
Suddenly, my mind registered the conversation leaking in through the kitchen window.
He was selling my tractor.
Just like that.
Not fifteen minutes after I had told him how much I liked it.
It became a long-standing joke, the John Deere that my husband sold away from me. “But,” he tried to explain, “it’s a John Deere. I always buy and sell them. They come and go. I don’t keep them!”
We all just teased him more.
Years after the fateful ceiling-varnishing-tractor-selling day, he showed up at the house with a big smile. “I bought you a present,” he told me, “come see!”
Outside was a rough looking John Deere 3020 powershift. “It’s a little different than the one you liked, but I think you’ll enjoy driving this one even more.”
I couldn’t help but tease him, “Why should I bother liking it? You said yourself that you buy John Deere’s to sell ‘em. As soon as a buyer comes prancing through the farm, you’ll have a check in your hand and the tractor loaded up before I can say, ‘Isn’t that mine?’”
He winked at me. “No, ma’am. This one is yours, to do with as you will. Except there is one little condition.”
“If we are going to a keep a John Deere on the farm, we’re painting it pink. That way everyone will know it’s yours. Wouldn’t want to tarnish my reputation, you know.”
Unfortunately, Amos has been so busy he hasn’t had a chance to paint my tractor, but it spent last summer in the front yard where it doubled as a jungle gym. The nieces and nephews thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.
Hopefully, we’ll get it painted before my wheelin’ and dealin’ husband attempts another sale. In the meantime, whenever a potential buyer asks him about it, he sends them to me. I’ve turned down every offer so far but I guess it’s becoming quite the collector’s item. I’m a little worried we’ll get it all fixed up and someone will make me an offer I won’t be able to refuse.
This may be the biggest reason why I haven’t pushed him to paint it, but I promise to share a picture if it ever does get done (at which point, I’ll start taking bids).
We’re celebrating the upcoming release of my newest book,
The Thing About Dairy Farmers.
You can enter to win a pre-release ecopy by visiting the book page (just click here) and leaving a comment. (we’re giving away a copy every day this week!) In the meantime, if you enjoyed this story, consider telling a friend? There are buttons at the bottom of this post for easy sharing.