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How Things Have Changed

November 16, 2017
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

Spending the first 13 years of my life on a farm, I consider myself a farm girl. I grew up knowing animals and farming, although fieldwork was not my strong point. Not because I didn't want to be in the field, I was envious of the boys in school that got to take time off to work in the fields every spring and fall.

I suppose since I was the girl in the family it was thought that I should do more girlish things. This really didn't fly with me. Being more tomboy than girly, I never really took to playing with dolls and playing house like so many girls do. I like getting dirty and playing in the mud, working with the animals and driving tractors.

My Dad did teach me how to disk, plow, cultivate, sow oats and cut hay, but he passed away before I really got to use what he taught me. Most of the tractors I learned to drive were the old John Deere's the 'B' and the '720' neither is like any tractor today. The newest tractor we had was an Oliver 1855.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to disk for an area farmer to help out. It is important to remember that my days of farming were in the early 1970s. We had a small (I think it was a four row disk) and both John Deere tractors were the kind you had to step on a spring-loaded switch to get the tractor to turn over and start. Not to mention they were hand-clutch tractors and not one cab on any of them. The Oliver was the only tractor that did not have a hand clutch and it had a radio. I can't really remember but I think it only got AM stations.

It almost seems like times were simpler then. I don't remember farmers in such turmoil when crops weren't out by the first of November or in by mid-April, but I don't think farmers farmed as many acres as they do today.

Anyway, I was driving an International 7120 pulling a disk that had fold up wings. I was so nervous. I kept telling myself it was like riding a bike, you never forget. Well let me tell you, it was like I had to relearn the entire operation.

The tractor started with a turn of they key and it had a cab with a heater and AM/FM radio. No hand clutch in this tractor, it had a normal clutch and the brakes were similar. The hydraulics were basically the same; there was simply more levers to worry about.

As I said I was very nervous and it's really not like riding a bike, well maybe if the original bike was the kind with the big wheel in the front and small wheel in the back. About the only thing that bike and today's bikes have in common is they have to be balanced. That's kind of how I felt in this tractor. The only thing that was the same was the height of the first step; for some reason no one has thought to lower it a few inches.

I made it through 180 acres and it was amazing. Everyone laughed at me but it was the first time in 40 years that I had done fieldwork and to me it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It reminded me of days gone by when I would go to the field with Dad and learned so much without realizing it. The days of yesteryear are gone but I can still disk and I think my Dad would be proud to learn that his little girl didn't forget all that he taught me.



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