Happy Stitches

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Tractor Story January 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — happystitches @ 15:14

Or OR “Why I have a Farmall tractor (named Eileen Dover) covered in fairy lights on my front lawn.”


There was a time when tractors didn’t mean much to me. They were just a friendly sort of utilitarian working vehicle found on farms or seen working on the fields around us in Wales.
Then along came our baby, Sam. When he was about a year old we were visiting an agricultural show with him in a push chair (stroller) and somehow we ended up giving him a small yellow model tractor. It scarcely ever left his hand from that day on (until the tragic day many years later, when it fell overboard from a motor launch, but that is another story altogether).
Sam was a fairly high-maintenance baby/toddler. In order to keep him entertained I would go on long walks down country lanes with him, and, whenever there was a break in the hedge or a view of a tractor, combine harvester or other form of splendid heavy equipment we would linger and take in the scene.
As he grew, he wore two sets of wheels off his toy pedal tractor, and, on moving to Canada, he anxiously awaited the off-loading of his dear tractor from the removal truck. Naturally, it was almost the last item to arrive.
Whilst living in the ‘burbs, there followed a period of gradual dormancy in his tractor addiction. However, it was instantly and dangerously rekindled on the occasion of his first return visit to the UK, some seven years later. When he came home to Canada, he began to scour the countryside for old, abandoned or neglected tractors. Strangely, no one ever really wanted to sell him a tractor, no matter how decrepit it looked. It may be a ‘guy thing’: they can never part with a tractor. Possibly, it might just come in handy one day (even embedded into the dirt with trees growing through it).
Tractors gradually and very quietly wormed their way into my life: I became accustomed to photographing interesting tractors (or piles of scrap) for Sam during my travels. Eventually, at the grown-up age of 14, he managed to acquire his first real tractor (a Farmall Super A, for the connoisseurs amongst you). This event involved a lot of help from many friends, as his parents really didn’t wish to accommodate a tractor in their modest suburban yard. We didn’t actually stand in his way, but let him set up the whole deal, transportation and storage, without our aid. Within a year, a rustic corrugated shed had been built down our yard and the fireplace was festooned with dismantled engine parts.Image
Sarah (the Farmall) was the first of his loves. Even before he left home, I believe he may have had other tractors lodging with various friends. As soon as he had some disposable income, they started to multiply in a more serious fashion.


Little did I realize the effect this continuous exposure was having on me: apart from my Tractor Socks there was little visible sign. http://www.lucyneatby.com/index.php?specific=1000239

That is, until this year, when I was trying to decide on the best rugged, practical, low-maintenance, affordable vehicle for use on Tancook Island. A prima donna vehicle wouldn’t cut it there. Guess what sprang to mind? I am now in the process of purchasing my first tractor with a luggage/people box on the back. (She is a diesel International 434, a mere 50 years young). I’m hoping for delivery this spring.

To bring this story back to the tractor currently residing on my suburban lawn covered in lights: The local Caterpillar dealership in the industrial park each year decorates a range of heavy earth-moving equipment for Christmas, with lovely white lights. It is a most cheerful sight.
Sam was coming to dinner mid December, so I just happened to ask him if he could lend me a tractor to decorate and bring it along with him. (He just happens to have a truck and trailer for this very purpose. I’m sure this surprises no one.) Eileen was delivered and I began my lighting campaign and then borrowed a Grinch to preside over all! She has been much admired. It is also very easy to find my house on a dark night.


10 Responses to “Tractor Story”

  1. Nadine Says:

    Great story about our children’s influence on us. Love the socks.

  2. Mary G. Says:

    What a wonderful story, Lucy! Now I understand the inspiration for the tractor socks, and I’m certain your neighbors understand the Christmas decoration in the front yard.

    As far as no one wanting to sell their old tractors, it’s not just a guy thing. I have an emotional attachment to my sewing machines. Whenever I upgrade from one sewing machine to another, I can’t bear to part with my beloved old friend, and that is why there are four Berninas in my sewing room!

    Happy New Year to you and your family,

    Mary G. in Texas

  3. KiniaCat Says:

    Thank you for telling us “The rest of the story”! The Tractor Socks are quite spiffy! (Love the tread-marks).
    I have a friend whose husband HAD to buy a tractor a few years ago and I’ll have to share this link with her… and himself.
    So…will the Holiday Tractor decor become a tradition?

  4. Karen Says:

    Eileen the tractor also made it much easier to find your house on open house day. Has Sam gone into Agriculture, or is the fascination limited to tractors?
    I was thinking, wow, tractors must burn a lot of fuel, but then I remembered the old ones do not have expensive computerized parts when you need to repair them, and you have your own Tractor Mechanic! Good Choice!
    Happy New Year to everyone!

    • Sam is a heavy machinery mechanic – he’s looking for a small house with room for tractors and many sheds!

      • Greg Says:

        Can you give us an update? I’d love to know what Sam is up to these days and if you still have your International 434. The 434 was a great general-purpose model.

        I turned 40 last year, but reading the story of Sam was like reading the story of my childhood. I drove my parents berserk making them stop the car so I could watch a tractor at work or photograph one on sale at a dealership.

      • Hi Greg,
        I replied to your comment but it didn’t seem to link to it – so just check the blog and you should find it. Thanks for your interest. We will continue with our Christmas tractor displays on the mainland!

  5. Sam is living the dream, he and his partner have many classic tractors and are about to tackle their second haymaking producing small bales for which there seems to be a demand. They are planning to build a classic tractor business: parts, haymaking, services, etc now. My tractor the 434, Fiona is in Sam’s barn awaiting some engine work, I hope she’ll be back on Tancook Island one day.

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