February 19, 2022
I mentioned how we had taken the afternoon on Valentine’s Day to visit the Sequoyah Wildlife preserve. I managed to get photos of ten new species that were not yet on this year’s birder list. Most of them were varieties of migratory ducks, but I also got some long-distance shots of the pelicans. The enormous flocks of red-winged black birds that were absent last October had returned and were taking advantage of the remains in the fields. We noticed the refuge was preparing to plow and plant new seed for the forage crops they grow for the birds. We saw a large John Deere tractor equipped with discs sitting ready in three of the fields scattered around the refuge, and another tractor with a sprayer attached behind the disc was being prepared by a worker. Planting season is gearing up.
When I looked online, I found the tractor has long been used on farms to mechanize agricultural tasks. A large modern tractor is used for ploughing, tilling, and planting fields, while a smaller tractor is used for routine lawn care, landscape maintenance, and clearing brush. A small tractor (15hp to 40hp) is available in a wide range of options to suit specific tasks and requirements. A subcompact tractor has the power and versatility to perform a large range of gardening tasks like mowing, moving mulch, and tilling gardens. A compact tractor is a smaller version of the utility tractor and is ideal for landscaping tasks. A utility tractor is recommended for more complex farming tasks and comes in different models with a horsepower range of 45hp to 110hp. A wide range of farming implements can be attached to utility tractors to help accomplish jobs.
I worked on my grandfather’s farm one summer in high school along with my farmer cousins. I worked to earn money, but mainly to create a connection with my grandfather. Grandfather did his own planting and harvesting and bought the necessary equipment, including tractors, plows, grain trucks, and combines. While I was there, he bought a huge Allis Chalmers tractor to pull an equally impressive two-way disc. The disc came unassembled, and the sons and grandsons got to put the beast together. This was literally tons of steel blades/discs that were stacked on end and then lowered to the ground to be attached to the frame. No one had assembled a disc before, so it was a learning experience. We attached the axel to an overhead pulley, stacked the first set of discs and began to lower it to the ground. When the disc tipped it swung in a wide circle, barely missing several of us. We did not share this information with grandma.
THOUGHTS: When I was in Junior High, I took a class from the local coop to learn to drive a tractor. The class was designed to make you familiar with the tractor in hopes of making you a safe operator. Even a compact tractor packs a lot of power and is designed to produce torque rather than speed. One exercise had us back a tractor with a front-end loader out of the barn. I cut the turn too close (ala Denise Richards backing a star cruiser out of dock in the movie Starship Troopers) and ripped the door off the barn. I did not pass the course. Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America, with 22 of every 100,000 farmers dying in a work-related accident. Farmers are nearly twice as likely to die on the job as police officers, five times as likely as firefighters, and 73 times as likely as Wall Street bankers. Without them you have no food. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.