What does it mean to be an antique machine? Some say that anything dating prior to 1960 is antique, others say that anything older than twenty five years is considered an antique, but by this last reckoning, all of my children are now antiques. I wonder … what could that possibly make me?
Our blue Ford 4000 tractor dates back to 1966. I was 12 years old when it rolled off the factory line. I was living in the city, playing in a small back yard covered with slate flagstones and sitting on a brown stone stoop that served as our front yard. I had never met a tractor, though I am certain that I had read about them in books.
Our grey Ford dates to 1956, still within my lifetime, but an antique by most reckoning, and our little Farmall Cub dates to 1947. Perhaps I might agree that the Cub is in fact an antique, being five years older than I am, but I must share with you that I wish my aging joints moved as well as the Cubs’ many parts!
Its 10 horse power engine purrs like a kitten, and its collected implements all work exactly as intended. The adjustable angle blade easily plows snow, smoothes gravel, or pushes mud off the driveway. The belly mower cuts the smoothest lawn with its sharp blades. The sickle bar slices cleanly across the pasture’s hay. The cultivators run down the garden rows, turning under the weeds and gently leaving soft dirt piled up against the rows of crop, as the side dressing bucket drops pellets of fertilizer into a shoot, delivering the pellets to a spade that deposits them by the crop roots. Without a doubt, the little Cub is my favorite tractor.
Its patina is perfect, the aged muddy red color of an almost rotten apple, but I could not imagine it any other way, until this past week, that is, as I watched the antique tractor parade. Grandfathers and grandmothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters, brought their tractors from all over the county, to the 44th annual show.
I did not count how many tractors were in the parade, but it lasted for well over two hours. Sometimes a young father would be driving, holding his small daughter perched on his knee, her little fist holding tightly onto his shirt. Other times a tractor passed by, driven by an elderly fellow whose wife of many years sat smiling beside him, as she leaned up against the wheel fender, one hand holding onto the fender behind her as her other hand rested gently on her husband’s shoulder. Other tractors were driven by young girls or young boys, sometimes with a father walking along side, just in case some assistance was needed. And still other tractors were driven by mothers, with their daughters driving yet another tractor right behind.
As I watched the parade I began to dream. I wondered, what if we found a neglected old Cub, whose engine was rusted and frozen. We could take out the engine, place “I” beams where the engine had been, sand it all down and then paint the frame and cowling with new Farmall red. I dreamt on.
Perhaps then we could replace the engine with a electric motor, put batteries under the cowling where the gas tank had been, and mount solar panels as a shade awning. And then maybe, just maybe, I could ride a solar powered cub in next year’s antique tractor parade!
Now it is easy for me to say that “we” could do all these things. In reality, as you no doubt know, it is Greg who will build the solar powered Cub, with just a bit of “hold this” or hold that” on my part.
So some folk may be counting down the days until school starts, or the number of shopping days left before Christmas, but not me. For the next 364 days, I will be counting down the days until the next antique tractor parade. And do you know what? We have already driven across the county and stopped by to look at a few ever, so rusted, Farmall Cubs, and I could not be more excited. One looks just about perfect!