A Cowboy’s Faith: Tractors still ranch necessity

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Cowboys aren’t made to be tractor drivers.”

That’s personal view, obviously contradicted by many ranchers baling hay this week.

A good number are quite professional and really enjoy the job essential to feeding cattle and horses.

While sometimes called into the task, it’s certainly not a likeable forte, hazardous to driver, vehicle, anybody, and anything around.

Called into recent action, the only way to get weeds and raggedy roadside grass cut was do it to it.

Aboard the “new-half-century-ago” John Deere 1020 with tightwad rotary mower knocked down the ample moisture-thrusted growth.

Monotony of chore-at-hand brought reflections of the Allis WD that Dad bought for the little farm 55 years ago. It was hard to steer, nearly-impossible to start, and beginning of low-appeal for tractor driving.

Mechanically-inclined Dad couldn’t get along with the orange verge-of-junk contraption either. Don’t recall what happened to it, but a nine-year-older 1939 John Deere B was replacement.

Nothing anything easy about driving the “B” either, but with frontend loader it was even tougher job. Then put the eight-foot drag disk on behind, hardly enough muscle for teenager to get turned around.

Yet, the rusting green machine stayed around dozen-years-plus seldom called into use.

Dad’s decision to get the new “1020” even brought tiny heart-flitter to teenage-want-a-be cowboy.

No comparisons to predecessors with first-turn of key start, power steering, power-take-off and three-point-hookup. With sickle mower, rake and twine baler, hay operations began.

Several major overhauls, new seats, exhaust replacement, faded paint, model script barely visible; the “1020” is still called into limited use.

Interestingly, the Allis WD driven by the wife as a teenager baling thousands of hay bales is in the barn, too. It’s completely restored semblance of the day her dad drove it off the dealer lot.

More than a decade ago, another big green JD was acquired in the name of feeding round bales and swathing hay. Never been behind the wheel, but fortunately family farmers know how and like to operate.

In recent months, another big red acquisition, far from new, but fancy doo cab, loader and all. Don’t intend to drive it either.

Accumulation up to four now, passerby might think farmers rather than cowboy, ugh.

Reminded of Titus 3:14: “We must meet necessary demands whatever the occasion may require, so that they will not be unproductive.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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