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Orange Tractors Still Make Me Smile

It happened yesterday. On a country road I passed an old, orange tractor that looked like my dad’s Allis-Chalmers—the one from my childhood-- and I had to smile.

Granted, the Allis-Chalmers company no longer exists as such, but still I have pleasant memories of that old orange workhorse we owned.

It was on the Allis that I learned to pull a hay wagon, disc, and even sit on the toolbox fastened to the left fender, and ride row after row in the field with my dad. I learned patience, and that good things come after hard work.

Ah, the memories! Nothing compares to spring sunshine warming a child’s back on the first day of summer vacation, wind blowing softly, and the smell of earth all around. Farm kids get special privileges that their city counterparts can only dream of: running barefoot behind a tractor and plow, feeling the contrast between hot, hard-packed soil and the cool, silky feel of freshly-turned earth, quiet freedom as far as the eye can see, the joy of living close to the land.

Allis taught me a lesson in faithfulness when I was sixteen years old. That year my dad allowed me to do the disking. It was hot, dusty work and the field seemed endless. I was ready to quit, but the faithful old tractor kept rumbling along, reminding me that I needed to do the same. At the end of the day I had stayed at a difficult task, even though it became boring, and I was thirsty enough to spit cotton. The bronze tan I developed was the envy of my city friends, and to think I got it for free!

Our Allis ran dutifully year ‘round, pulling wagonloads of excited kids on hayrides in October, and our sleds in January—because we lived in the Midwest and had no hills. It pulled cars out of ditches when city people got stuck in snow drifts on our country road.

Even our farm dog benefitted from our old, orange tractor. Rusty used the small platform behind the seat as his “command post” when he wanted to escape the snapping jaws of neighboring farm dogs. It was his version of “king of the hill.”

I can’t help thinking that country kids growing up today with high-powered, air-conditioned equipment may develop stunted memory banks. My most golden memories were made in simpler times with the sun on my back and a farm dog running alongside while I sat at the wheel of our trusty Allis-Chalmers. Yes, orange tractors still make me smile.

What about you? Have any memories of country living? Feel free to comment below.

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