I Hate My Old Tractor!

Does your husband want to get rid of his old tractor? Here's how you can tell.

| October/November 1991

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    Nothing can persuade a farmer to get rid of his old tractor like the thought of a brand new tractor.

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Patricia Penton Leimbach is a country homemaker and was an author of books about life in her native rural Ohio during the 1970s and 1980s. Her writings include "A Thread of Blue Denim," "Harvest of Bittersweet" and this humorous anecdote from her 1977 book "All My Meadows."

You can “smell” a new tractor coming two or three years ahead. The first thing a wife notices is that the thrill — of the old tractor, that is — is gone. He no longer fondles the fenders, caresses the hood. No more does he run in the face of a storm to get ‘er under cover. A crumpled muffler may leap into the wind for months on end. The vinyl seat splits, and he seems not to notice. Foam oozes from the rupture and is carelessly obscured beneath a feed bag. Gone is the pride that once moved him to slyly detour visitors through the tractor shed. It doesn’t seem very important anymore who drives the old thing — the wife even gets a crack at it.

“Give you any trouble?” he’ll ask casually at lunch. Then, as he chomps down on a cob of corn, he’ll move into phase two of the buildup: innuendo and suggestion.

“Been startin’ a little hard lately. Thought maybe you’d notice. …Shifts a little rough, don’t you think?” You can agree or disagree. The psychological markup is in progress. The seeds of disturbances have been sown.

“D’ja notice how much oil that tractor’s been burning?” he’ll say to his son one day, making sure you’re within earshot. Then early some morning, he’ll interrupt his bookkeeping by walking into the kitchen (ostensibly for something to eat) and remarking, “Guess how much we spent for repairs on the 706 last year?” And then he’ll go on to name a figure half again as high as the household budget.

“What?” you shriek. “On that new tractor?”


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