A little red tractor kind of day
By Christine Tailer
Today was simply one of those days. The morning air was perfectly crisp. I got out from under my covers, not only looking forward to the aroma and taste of my morning coffee, but the warmth of the cup as I held it in my hands.
Greg and I lingered over the breakfast table, while the parrots begged to be let outside. They really do enjoy their view from the front porch, as well as the wild bird visitors who stop by for a free seed, but I told them they’d better wait until the morning sunshine warmed the valley air just a bit.
I checked the forecast. It appeared that a week of cooler dry weather lay ahead. This would be perfect for bringing in our first cutting of hay, so morning chores done, we headed down to Greg’s shop to ready the little Farmall Cub and its trusty sickle bar attachment. It really never ceases to amaze me that this little red tractor has been chugging away for the past almost 70 years doing exactly what it still does today: starting up in a heartbeat and working as hard as we ask.
The little Cub is far from a show tractor. Her paint is weathered, and her front grill shows a bit of well-earned rust, but to my eyes she could not be any more perfect.
She is one of 45,000 Farmall Cubs built from 1947-64, and so she is hardly a rare beast, but a beast she certainly is. Her original market was for the 1950s small acreage farmer, and Greg and I are certainly farming on small acreage here in the creek valley. We actually only till about 10 acres of our total 63-acre farm.
In the past, before we had horses, cattle, sheep and goats, we would plant acres of black beans, white beans, buckwheat and sunflowers, but for the past several years we have only harvested hay for our livestock, and the little Cub, with her trusty sickle bar, has stepped right up to the task.
The Cub’s serial number, stamped into an aluminum plate riveted to her right-side steering gear housing, tells us that this little tractor was manufactured in 1957 in Louisville, Ky. I smile to think that she is actually few years younger than I am. I know that I have certainly slowed down a bit over the years, but this little tractor seems to have no lack of energy. I can’t help but think that her vim and vigor are likely due to the farmers who tended her with loving care.
Greg would never put her to work without topping off her grease fittings, checking her oil, and putting air in her tires, and when cutting hay, he carefully brushes graphite into her sickle bar. He knows that dirt and dust would become caked in oil, but are easily shed with a dusting of lubricating graphite.
While I watch as Greg gets her out of the barn and readies her to go cut hay, I imagine other farmers, years past, who certainly did the same. It is really all a matter of proper care, and this little Cub had been fortunate to see well over six decades of careful farmers who have appreciated her small, but mighty tenacity.
So, while some tractors might now cut hundreds of acres of hay in a day, down here in the creek valley we are more than content to cut 10, knowing that we’ll have enough hay to feed our livestock all throughout the winter.
The day eventually warmed up enough so I could let the parrots out onto the porch. I then pulled on my cap and went down to weed and till the garden. With the garden looking spiffy, I decided to trim some locust trees back from the edges of the fields.
Finally, as the sun dropped behind the creek valley hill, I decided to call it a day. A chill breeze had begun to blow up the valley. I brought the parrots back inside and settled down to write. I could still hear Greg and the little Cub, chugging away in the second field, cutting the last of the hay. It really had been a perfect, little red tractor kind of day.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.