Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear John, I love John Deere!


Four long years after we bought Winterrest Farm and began the dream of living and working on our own small farm, we saw an ad for a Farm auction down in the tiny North Carolina town of Four Oaks.

"What do you think, hon," said Jeff, pointing to the newspaper announcement, "want to go?"
"Why?" I replied, "looking for something in particular?"
"Yep. We need a tractor."

 The time had come to start thinking about our first investment in farm machinery. We needed non-grazing horsepower to help us with everything from discing and plowing to mowing and pulling. We already had a Kubota BX1500, our wedding gift to ourselves way back in 2002.

"Are we ready for a full-size tractor?" I asked. "Is it time?"
"I think so." He replied, "we're moving in less than a year. We've got to have something stronger than Lucille to get the work started." Lucille, Lucy for short, was our flame-orange Kubota tractor. A small-scale mowing tractor with a front-end loading attachment, Lucy was wonderful for many things, but too small for the type of work we needed to get done.

So, before dawn one early October morning, when the temperature hovered around 25 degrees, Jeff and I drove the 45 minutes south to Four Oaks. I was sure the cold weather would keep some competitors home in bed, but no such luck. The place was packed. There were crusty old mowers and rusty bike parts, used masonry tools and grimy oil cans. I spotted a dune buggy in one corner, next to what must have been the brownest lumbering oaf of an RV, circa 1971.
Then I turned and saw what we'd driven here to see and maybe to bid on. Tractors! Rows and rows of new and old, big and small, red and green and blue tractors! There were several adorable, shiny red 1939 Farmall H tractors, set cheek-by-jowl with the mammoth, modern New Holland T4 Powerstar tractors. Squeezed in between, lined up together, were what we'd hoped would be here: the bright green and yellow of John Deere.

The auction started and we watched as the monster pro Ag tractors sold in the tens of thousands. The auctioneer moved down the line, barking from the top of his after-market golf cart, fitted with giant speakers poking up on all four corners. He finally got to the line of John Deeres. My palms started to sweat in the cold morning air. Butterflies flitted in my gut and my breath came in gasps. WHAT WERE WE DOING??? Did we have thousands to throw at a tractor? No. Could we dig around in our rainy-day funds for thousands to throw at a tractor? Probably. But still, it was a big step for us and we were both shaking. The auctioneer reached the last available John Deere, and we realized that we needed to fish or cut bait.

"59, 59, 59" sang the auctioneer. "59, 59, 59...Who'll do 60? 60,60,60. $6000.00 for this one-owner 2040, 60,60,60! Worth every penny at SIXTY!"
"Yefff," I mumbled under my breath, "Widdd!!" I punctuated this command with a push of my elbow.
"...Goin' ONCE. Goin TWICE"...
"SIX!" Jeff stabbed the air with his index finger and the auctioneer and the current winning bidder stared.
"You in at six?" asked the auctioneer.
"Yes." Jeff replied. He was pale and his eyes were big as saucers.
"Six, six, six," the speakers shouted, "...Goin ONCE, goin TWICE! ...SOLD! Six thousand! You got yourself a pretty little tractor there, son! Congratulations!"

We were elated. We had no "farm number" or any sort of Agricultural status that gave us a break on sales tax. Regardless, we handed over our credit card, knowing full well that this was a rotten way to pay for farm equipment, and signed the sales slip. We were thrilled. We trailered the big green machine back home, set it up in the driveway and gave it a wash. We dubbed it "Ricky" to keep with the I Love Lucy theme and parked it in the garage. We're probably the only suburbanites with a John Deere 2040 sitting in their two-car garage, but we wouldn't have it any other way!
The protruding ledge holds 50 lb. counterweights, lined up like slabs, one next to the other. This helps keep the tractor from lifting up in the front, when a heavy load is applied to the back.
The "J" shaped steel forms move the wheel in and out to accommodate different field and terrain conditions, to widen or narrow the wheel base.
The right and left brakes are on the right, the clutch is on the left. The yellow stick is the range, which controls high, low and reverse. Th red stick controls the gears; low, 1-4 and high, 5-8.
In this era of tractors, the engine forms part of the tractor's frame. This particular tractor was manufactured in Manheim, Germany in 1979 and has a 40 horsepower engine.

This 3-point hitch holds the tractor driven attachments. There is also a draw-bar for tow-behind attachments.

No comments:

Post a Comment