Jerry Nelson: The new girl
The most difficult part was breaking the news to my dearly beloved. How do you tell someone that you have found another?
We have been together for decades. I can hardly remember a time when she wasn’t part of my life.
But the heart wants what the heart wants. My new love interest was sleek and slinky. Plus, she’s much younger than the old girl.
I went to her and said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’ve found someone new. But you aren’t being replaced! Think of it as our little family unit expanding. I hope that you can find it in your heart to accept this new addition.”
My wife, who was sitting on the deck, asked, “What are you doing? It looks like you’re talking to your John Deere ‘A’ tractor!”
I’d been caught! This brought me to the second most difficult part, which was broaching the idea of getting another tractor to my wife.
“Why on earth do you need another tractor?” she exclaimed. “What’s wrong with your old ‘A’?”
“Nothing,” I replied apprehensively. “She will always be my first. But there are some areas where I find her lacking.”
“Power steering, for one thing. I’m not getting any younger and it seems like her steering wheel is becoming more difficult to spin with the turning of the years. And I know from experience that the ‘A’ is nearly impossible to steer when she has a loader on her.”
“A loader! Why do you need a loader? Our neighbors have been happy to dig us out after snowstorms.”
“Well, yes. But you never know when a guy might want to yank out a fencepost or move some dirt or simply do a bunch of guy stuff.”
“So, tell me about this hot new item. What’s she like?”
“She’s a John Deere 3010,” I gushed, “And she’s a sweet little thing!”
“A 3010? Wouldn’t that make her like 60 years old?”
“Fifty-seven. But age is just a number.”
My wife let me twist in the wind for several long moments. “Well, OK. You can go ahead. But don’t buy a junky loader for her. I want her to look nice.”
Wow! No one can dispute that I have world’s best wife!
Dad had acquired a 3010 when I was a teenager. I have fond memories of spending many long hours with that tractor, doing fieldwork and working through my teenage angst. As I rode the 3010, I grappled with such deep, philosophical questions as “Why can’t they find a cure for acne?” and “Are these zits terminal?”
Dad eventually put a loader on his 3010. That little rig was so nimble that it could turn around on a pool table. I became so adept at operating the tractor/ loader combo that I could have picked up a penny blindfolded.
My desire for a similar rig wasn’t exactly a mid-life crisis. It was more like being swept away by a wave of mid-life nostalgia.
I went to the owner of the 3010 that had caught my eye and made an offer. He quickly accepted. A nagging voice in the back of my head wondered why. Was I simply acquiring someone else’s problems?
Then came the task of finding a suitable loader. A local used machinery dealer had a dizzying array of loaders from which to choose. We walked through his lot and each time I paused to inspect a loader the dealer would effusively expound upon what a great deal that unit would be for me. Again with the nagging little voice.
We reached an understanding for a loader that seemed perfect for the 3010. I then faced a conundrum: how do you mount a loader on a tractor when you don’t have a loader to lift the loader? The dealer said he would be happy to do the mounting for me and could also furnish remote valves and hoses for a small additional fee. He enthusiastically explained that he was giving me a bargain that was miles better than the one which involved the purchase of Alaska for two cents per acre.
After several annoying delays, the dealer finally delivered the tractor/ loader combo to our farm. The 3010 purred beneath me as we puttered around our farmstead.
The next morning, I noticed that one of her rear wheels was loose enough to have moved. This was an easy fix that merely involved jacking up the 6,000-pound machine and tightening a few large bolts. Perhaps I should name the tractor Lucille.
I was thoroughly contented. Now if I could just quiet that nagging little voice.
Next: mission creep or money pit?