A Girl and a Tractor


Stringtown neighbor across the river Ed, turning in to the driveway at Sassafras Farm with the tractor.

I’ve been rather conflicted about this tractor.

Many of you have asked about the tractor that was at Stringtown Rising and why didn’t I have a tractor here.

One reason is that this tractor was owned jointly and some mutual decisions and agreements had to be made about the tractor’s future. Also, the tractor is not paid for. The tractor is not even half paid for. Did I actually want to take over responsibility for the tractor? I can’t drive the tractor. And I’m scared of the tractor.

But I need a tractor.

So conflicting.

Efforts were made to sell the tractor. Such efforts were somewhat hampered by the fact that the tractor isn’t paid for, which means no cut-rate deal could be made. No point selling the tractor for less than is owed and still owing the tractor people–but having no tractor. The monthly payments on the tractor are reasonably low, and I’ve already been paying on the tractor for a few years. So. I might as well make the rest of the payments (for the rest of my life!) and keep it if it can’t be sold for what’s owed on it.


Should I repeat yet again the story of my oldest brother who died in a tractor accident when he was 13 at my grandparents’ farm in Oklahoma? How I was told about how he died on a tractor from the time I was old enough to understand words? How my parents hung a lifesize painting of him in our house? Painted from a photo taken at the age he died on a tractor? How creepy that was when I was a kid? How I’ve always been afraid of tractors? Need I go on about this irrational paranoia? I used to think I was going to die when I was 13 because my brother died when he was 13. I got over that when I turned 14. (Whew, I’m 14, looks like I might live…..UNLESS I GET ON A TRACTOR!)

All that notwithstanding, Ed drove the tractor the 10 miles over here for me yesterday afternoon.

So now I have a tractor. It has a front-end loader, and my cousin has a brush hog and a harrow that I can borrow. As if.

It might be parked right there for a long time.


  1. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Tractors are better balanced than they used to be, that one has a roll bar, your land is relatively flat, you are an adult who is not likely to take risks.

    All that doesn’t negate the fact that losing your brother that way then hearing about it your whole childhood had to be a perfect way to gain a real fear. Still…. maybe just up and down the driveway a few times for now?

  2. boulderneigh says:

    Yowza, that’s a huge burden for such a small tractor! We’d be glad to take it off your hands if we could; our kingdom for a front-end loader. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Why is there a disturbing picture of a dead animal with internal organs showing just above the comments?

  3. Darlene says:

    Totally understand your fear. Might help to just sit in it and get used to the feel. When you get comfortable with that then just drive it up and down the drive way. By summertime you’ll be racing Morgan and her horse across the pasture. Put a Sassafras Farm flag on the back and it’ll look like a 4 wheeler. (From the back anyway)

  4. KarenAnne says:

    boulderneigh,, What I’m seeing above the comments is an ad for a joint supplement with an x-ray of human joints. Maybe you saw the result of an adserver gone nuts.

    I think if I were designing a tractor, I’d also put a roll bar on the front (low enough to not interfere with the tractor operation).

    In my family the scare the kids story was about a cousin who died of blood poisoning. Now every time I get a bug bite or whatever I’m alarmed until I can see it start to heal. The adults, who were no doubt traumatized, meant well.

  5. twiggityNDgoats says:

    Suzanne, I know your fears about tractors. No one is able to take that away or know how you feel. As Buckeye Girl said though, you are an adult (and a farmer) and much of your land is flat, much flatter than ours. I’m a “girl” and bought a tractor for my 50th birthday which has been a good while now. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! I plow my garden, the bucket makes a marvelous wheelbarrow and is perhaps the most useful “implement”. It is a snap to mow overgrown pastures. I have a backhoe to dig with. A tractor also leaves large ruts in soft ground ๐Ÿ™

    Just have someone familar with it show you and just drive it around. It is probably a 4×4 judging from the looks and will be very stable and will go anywhere. I mow my hillside pasture with no issues. By learning a few basic principles about weight distribution you will be wheeling around in no time and wondering how you lived without one. I always ground check areas that I’ve not been on to be sure there are no bad places before I take the tractor. You’ll have that red beast under control in no time.

  6. Glenda says:

    Suzanne, that tractor is indispensable on a farm….and a brush hog. My neighbor whose larger farm we bought back in 1991 told me you needed just two tools to run a grass farm and it was a tractor and a brush hog.

    You just need some lessons on operation and what not to do. The most dangerous thing is mowing on mountainous terrain and you say the new farm is much flatter so that is a real plus.

    If you can drive on those icy mountainous roads, you can handle that tractor!

  7. SarahGrace says:

    Take it slow and steady. Ours looks like what you have but we have a digger claw on the back. Sorry, I don’t know the correct term. ๐Ÿ™‚ We got our tractor in 2010. Dh was deployed twice after geting it, so unless the brother-in-law was here (hHe was for a while in 2010 and I did quite a bit of digging and hauling dirt with it!) it didn’t get much use the last two years. I don’t have as great of a fear like you do, but I still had no desire to run it or let ds run it if there was not someone to oversee us. Then I found someone who was able to do some work around here. He decided it was about time for ds to get used to working with it and for me to get more comfortable of ds on it. He had ds do quite a bit of work with it and near the end sent ds off on his own. He told us to always respect it and that it wasn’t an atv, so go appropriate speeds. We hope to purchase an used square baler and bush hog this year. Not sure if finances will allow, but we’re hoping!

  8. broncobetsy says:

    Susan, get some ear muffs or earplugs!! Part of the reason a tractor is so scary is because it is LOUD!

  9. wildcat says:

    That Ed sure is a great guy. Not many people would drive a tractor 10 miles for somebody as a favor. I hope he got some Grandmother Bread out of the deal. :hungry:

  10. Andrea.tat says:

    First, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had their family traumatize them over something in an effort promote safety.

    That aside, like people have been saying newer/smaller tractors are much more stable then they used to be. Just take it slow and you shall over come your fear!

  11. lifeisgood/ Melinda says:

    The best way to get over a fear is to face it head on! Have your cousin come give you some driving lessons. Lack of knowledge and experience play a large part in most tractor accidents. Know your land, know your tractor, and know your limits and you will do fine.
    P.S. Give it a name ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Tow Lady says:

    Ok, let’s see…you moved to a slanted house in West Virginia, became a farmer, now have your second farm, raised kids, raised livestock, cook, preserve, and make something out of nothing.

    Sounds to me like that tractor ought to be just another obstacle that you can kick in the tail. 8)

    Don’t let a well-meaning family’s grief and protectiveness hold you back. I am amazed by all you do, and I look forward to seeing how you conquer your fear of the tractor. Once you get on it and figure out how useful it is, you might become the queen of heavy equipment!!! What’s next…a backhoe??? :shimmy:

  13. lattelady says:

    Name it, get on it under supervision and conquer. You have already discovered you are far more emotional stronger than you ever dreamt. The roll bar is good. That front loader will be worth its weight in gold when you are hauling things are you should recall from the old place.

  14. TeaCup says:

    First, let me say I absolutely *get* this.

    Unfortunately, you have to deal with this one way or the other, since you NEED that tractor. I guess I’d say find whatever it was that moved you from the suburbs to the slanted little house inside you, and know you made it through THAT and the previous years of a farming from scratch. You should be able to do this.

    Moving to the wilds of WV with 3 kids to be a farmer was quite a leap. You’ve already proved you have a lot of guts, courage, and can do things you didn’t know you could. Remember that. Tell your imposter syndrome to take a hike. Ask your cousins for help; I’m sure they will. Take small steps.

    You have a cheering section here. We’re all about helping you do well and cheering you on when you need it.

    It’s okay to be scared spitless, just don’t let it stop you.


  15. steakandeggs says:

    As other’s have said take it slow and easy. Just take small steps. Once you get use to the tractor you will wonder how you ever got along without it. That bucket is worth it’s weigh in gold on a farm. I can’t begin to say how many things we have used our for. With a tractor you will not have to wait for someone else to come do it for you. Your strong and you can do it.

  16. Dottie says:

    I agree with previous posters comments that anyone who can move to a slanted little house with THREE children and then accomplish everything you have will be able to overcome your fears and learn how
    to handle that little red LADY BUG !!! Just keep reminding yourself of how much HARD WORK she can help with and that you are a FARMER.

  17. MMHoney says:

    Have a healthy respect for animals and equipment. You are not fighting fire!!! Take it easy. Just because someone is your uncle; doesn’t make them qualified. They may just be well meaning>>>>>>>>>>>>

  18. outbackfarm says:

    Suzanne, you could take tractor classes maybe? It must be really scary for you because of your brother but sometimes you just need to get on that horse and ride it. Go slow and easy and have people there that know tractors. I so wish I had a tractor here. Just think of all the things you’ll be able to do yourself with your own tractor. Give yourself time and go out and just sit on it every day. Get to know it. Talk to it. Give it a name. Just get on it!

  19. holstein woman says:

    Yeah for the tractor. I want to add a little to what has been said. That “Lady bug” CAN be your best friend!!!!
    What I want to say is this that when you go uphill keep the bucket down to the ground almost so you will have better balance. If you are scared going down hill back down slowly. If you feel like something is going wrong drop the bucket as fast as you can, you won’t hurt it. You CAN do this, be careful and have a blast with the tractor. If your cousin drove it over 10 miles for you I am sure he will teach you to drive it and the terrain at Sassafras is much better than SR. Have fun!!!!

  20. Miss Judy says:

    I fully understand…I didn’t learn how to drive a car until I was 26 and the mother of 3 children… because my teenage brother died in an auto crash.As others have said …you can overcome this. you may get a little sinking feeling in your tummy each time you fire that beautiful tractor up…but you never seem to shirk a challenge! When you’re on the tractor just hum that country song about “She(or he) thinks my tractor’s sexy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. kdubbs says:

    You can do this! When we bought our property, I had zero tractor experience–not even a lawn tractor. We bought a compact tractor (I’m guessing about the same size as yours) and I quickly had to overcome being somewhat leery of it. Is yours hydrostatic? The hydrostatic transmission eliminates the need to shift gears, which really simplifies things. (If that’s what you’ve got, you should have two pedals where you might expect one gas pedal–one for forward, one for reverse.) I’ve never tried to run a bush hog or other PTO implements on any other tractor, but I’ve been told that that’s easier with a hydrostatic set-up than it might be with the old manual transmission. There is some simple use of the clutch involved to get the bush hog up and running, but it’s really easy. I actually find that I love bush-hogging–oh, the power! And we use the loader bucket to haul manure, rotate our compost pile, carry rocks we pick, move wood, plow snow, and a zillion other things. I second the recommendations above–keep the rollbar up, wear your seatbelt on any kind of incline (or whenever you feel that you need a safety net), and breathe–you will be fine! And we will all cheer when you share photos of yourself on the tractor.

  22. hallowes says:

    I think the 4H offers a safety class. It’s for teens, but I’m sure they would let you audit if you and Morgan take it together. Above all take it slow, wear your seatbelt, and if you find yourself in a situation that’s over your comfort level, turn it off and call your cousin.

    We believe in you.

  23. margiesbooboo says:

    Most of the tractor deaths occurred because they didn’t use to have roll bars or seat belts. Yours has both. Get out there and drive that puppy around! We got a Kubota and I LOVE it! You can pull stuff out of the ground, you can dig post holes with it, cut grass, DIG DITCHES, give Clover a ride in the bucket! It’s a awesome tool go play with it!

  24. margiesbooboo says:

    PTO = power take off. It’s where you connect all the accessories. You should have 2 more aside from the front end bucket. One underneath and one in the back behind the seat. I’ll be quiet now.

  25. jmac says:

    I suspect your brother, if he were able, would say “Just Do It”!

  26. wanda1950 says:

    Maybe try approaching it like psychologists do for phobias–just sit on the seat every day for a while. Or just go close to it & look it over if that’s too much for a start. Then start it up every day for a while, etc. I am so sorry to hear of the trauma of your brother’s death.

  27. BJ Farm says:

    Hey Suzanne, always go up and down hills. don’t drive across steep hills. I’m lucky my lands pretty level. Looks like a nice tractor. I would at least get it parked in the barn so it stays nice.

  28. NancyL says:

    I thought this was going to be about Morgan and the tractor! Just tell her it’s a mechanical horse, and I bet she’ll take over tractor duty with a flare!!!

  29. Murphala says:

    I wish I could post a picture of what our big red IH tractor looked like! That thing was tall and dangerous and with a not-very-good center of gravity. The front wheels were so close together it was like driving a tricycle on steroids. This one looks as safe as a car.
    I’m sorry you have to overcome real terror to be able to use it, but you can conquer it. And you will.

  30. Jersey Lady says:

    So happy you now have tractor power on the new place. I hope you will learn to use it. But even if you don’t, my husband says to start it up and drive it a bit regularly. Like people, tractors need some exercise. It would help to cover it with a tarp too. The end.

  31. dklenke says:

    Suzanne, the biggest thing to remember is to keep the loader bucket close to the ground. That will keep the center of gravity low for the vehicle. Try not to go sideways on a hill. If a hill is steeper than you feel comfortable with, go up backwords. And I choose to wear the seat belt, so if the tractor flips, I stay tucked next to the roll bar and the tractor can’t roll over me or crush me. As you use it more, you will lose the unreasonable fear and just have a healthy respect for a very big machine. :hug:

  32. Dennis says:

    I understand your feelings about the tractor,but find some flat ground and start playing with the tractor. They are real easy to drive,much like a big riding lawn mower.I have one like yours and the front end loader will be your best friend.With chains and ropes you can pick up and move large things. Great back savers,my wheel barrow is rusty and neglected.You have to be respectful of a tractor ,but they are great fun!!

  33. whaledancer says:

    I wonder if you might have some neighbors who don’t have a tractor and need some tractor time, who would be willing to swap the use of your tractor for help with some of the chores you need done?

    I understand about irrational fears/phobias. Mine is black widow spiders. Now, you might say that it makes sense to be scared of them, but even I know my reaction is way over the top. I break into a sweat at the thought of going where there might be a BWS. The thing about irrational fears is that they’re, well, not rational, so no amount of reasoning that the danger isn’t real is going to remove the fear. But sometimes you just have to do it anyway. Like if I get a BWS in my house, I have to kill it, because I can’t just abandon the house and move. And sometimes I have to get something out of the garage, even though I KNOW there are BWS in there. So I do it. I sweat and shake and gasp for air and do it anyway. And afterwards I know it was raw courage, even if no one else would recognize that. And I survive it, and maybe next time, it’s just a teensy tiny bit easier.

    The problem (or advantage) with having that tractor sitting there is that every time you see it, you will know that there is a fear that you haven’t faced, a fear that is getting in your way. It will nag at you. I think that eventually you’ll decide to conquer it, just to show yourself your own courage.

    But maybe you can start with power tools first, just for practice.

  34. MMHoney says:

    Did you notice a power tool workshop at the CITR Retreat.?????
    I would recommend that Suzanne check it out. Don’t believe I said that.

  35. SuzzyQ says:

    My husband was almost crushed by our tractor. Of course, it was HIS fault as he overloaded the bucket and was on a hill. Silly man! Thank God, he was able to jump free of it as it went over and
    got by with just a few scrapes & scratches.

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