The tractor allows and empowers my personal participation in the rhythms of the natural world. I can plant and pick, harrow and harvest generous crops in season. To me, my tractor seems a heroic thing.
But in the field of farm tractors, my Deere is as small as they run. Even if you're not a farmer, you've seen tractors twice and thrice the power of mine commonly plowing the dark Midwestern soil. And on the larger tracts, you've seen modern behemoths cut swaths as wide as avenues through dustier fields, wearing double tires on every wheel, pulling several gangs of plows and harrows, while the operator sits bunkered in an air-conditioned cab, watching the tracks of his tires in a television monitor.
Me, I take the weather on my head. I mow at a width of six feet. And mine is but a two-bottom plow.
Nevertheless, as small as my tractor is, smaller still was the first tractor purchased by my father-in-law, Martin Bohlmann, in the late 1940s when his daughter Ruthanne was six years old.1
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