The first time I actually experienced raw, brute power was when I fired up my first tractor. It was a 1959 Allis Chalmers D14, bright orange and covered in grease and oil. It was dirty, ugly and beat to crap, but I fell in love with it just the same. To think I almost refused to buy it is almost more than I can take.
The Allis came with the farm. We were in the process of buying several acres in the country to use as a camp. We had no intent of living there. The place came with a house, a barn, an old tractor and a beat up old Ford F150. My original intent was to tear down the barn and to try to convince the owner to keep their ugly truck and tractor. I remember the woman sitting down in front of me, taking my hands in hers, and saying, “Trust me. You will need both the truck and the tractor.” She was right.
The tractor didn’t work when I first got it and I was about the most un-mechanically inclined person in the world back then. I went on the Internet, searched for instructions and found that there were forums and groups out there dedicated just to this brand of tractor. I first changed the oils – there were several kinds of oil that needed changed. Next came the spark plugs, the plug wires and finally cleaned out the carburetor. I poured in some fresh gas and turned the key. Ever since that day, my old D14 has always turned over on the first try.
Long story short, I bought the truck and tractor along with the farm. The folks living there before we bought the place collected junk, all kinds of junk. That junk had to be moved. In comes the tractor. I put a boom on the back, hooked up a chain and started lifting and moving things like old car axels, car frames and I-beams. That old tractor could lift just about anything. There was an old house nearby that had burned down and had been removed. The old sandstone foundation stones were still there, so we fired up the old Allis and soon we were building a formal garden out of giant sandstones. I remember trying to move those stones with a pry bar. It was back breaking. The Allis didn’t care. It could lift anything.
That first winter I was thrilled to be able to burn wood for heat. That meant that I had to drag trees out of the woods. Once more, the old Allis came in handy. I could use it to pull trees in the direction I wanted them to fall, and I could also use it to drag the whole tree back home to cut and split. One day, I got an old brush hog to attach to the back of my tractor. Again, the world opened up before me. I started reclaiming sections of my hay field that had been allowed to become overgrown with multiflora rose. Each pass I would get a little braver, and with every pass I cut a little deeper into the woods. Soon my tractor and I were inseparable.
Every man deserves a tractor. Every woman deserves a tractor. Everyone should at least once in their lives get to experience the exhilarating feeling of lifting 1,000 pounds into the air and moving it. And the sound… the sound of a tractor is unique to the model. My neighbor told me he could identify every tractor on our hill by sound alone. He was right. He can now tell exactly which tractor I’m on based on sound alone. That’s right. I now have more than one tractor. I have five. Used to have six, but I had to cut down. By the way, tractors are addicting.