I grew up in farm country and we had a little spread in which we had a milk cow, kept a horse, and raised our own beef, pigs, and summer sheep. We grew our own large garden and pasture hay. Basically, we were self sufficient and worked the land to provide for the necessities of life.
When I was young, my Dad had helped a local farmer frequently with his needs (Dad gave of his time and talent freely) and he one time accepted a barter and received a small old international tractor. This tractor needed some work, but we fixed it up and it became a great blessing in our small farm life. With it we could plow, disc, harrow, level, mow, and work the land with a machine instead of by hand.
In the spring time, this machine provided a nice nest egg as I would plow many gardens for a small fee (usually twenty bucks). She sported a single bottom plow with a hydraulic lift and PTO, the plow really sunk deep and rolled the soil nicely, one row at a time. After winter, it only took a few rows to polish the plows. Plow the row, back up in the furrow, and do it over again until done. Running that tractor was a thrill for a young teen age boy without a license. The smell of that machine still gives me goose bumps. It required a hand crank to start; which could break your arm if you didn’t do it right. It would start on a single crank and ran like a top.
Just a few weeks ago I became the heir of this childhood tractor, and it still runs like a top. I am going to have it refurbished a bit as it is nearly 70 years old. Over the years, all of the grandkids of my parents have been given rides and if they were over 8 could drive it with an adult present- this became a favorite activity when visiting the grandparent’s house. Now great grandchildren have the honor of participating in a piece of history that has served the family for generations.
I was pondering the lessons of old red and was reminded that no harvest was ever reaped without first putting the hand to the plow. Keeping the plow in the ground is a great symbolism of success. It can take a while to get the field plowed (especially with a single bottom plow), but the steadfastness of our effort will someday yield a mighty harvest. Perhaps more important than the harvest is the lesson of it; you’ve got to work the soil and tend to it regularly if you expect it to give back.
Here’s to “Old Red.” May she turn the fields for another 70 years and continue to remind us of the law of the harvest.