Growing up quickly

When I look at my little Grandchildren I think back when I was just a little older than they are right now.  When I was 4 or 5 they had to take the battery cable off the battery on the little Fordson tractor to keep me from starting it and driving around the yard.

Fordson Tractor - Montana Musings

When I was that age and just a wee bit older I moved the trucks around in the harvest field.. I can remember sitting on a pillow and staring between the steering wheel and the dash of the 1952 Chevy ton and half truck to see where I was going. I had to sit on the very edge of the seat on the pillow and only then could I touch my toes to the clutch, brake, and the gas pedal. The Chevy had a 4 speed transmission and first was called Granny Gear because it was crawling speed. I can remember the truck lurching and jumping forward and dying numerous times till I got the hang of it. Of course the starter was on the floor too, I can remember starting the half loaded truck in Granny Gear and hitting the gas at the same time..

The Great Leap Forward. My greatest accomplishment at that time was to unload the combine on the fly to drive the truck along side the combine at the same speed and the combine augering out the grain into the bed of the truck. The trick of course was not to go too fast or slow and not to hit the combine. I did all three, but my Dad never said a word, he just smiled at his youngster.

The next big accomplishment was driving a loaded grain truck to town which was 15 or 16 miles on dirt roads depending on which end of the field you started on. You had to drive over very bumpy roads and drive slow since you were only 7, 8, or nine years old. You drove to one of the three grain elevators in town across the railroad tracks then engage the trucks hydralic lift system to unload the grain. You had to go up slowly as not to tip the bed of the truck too far back and tip it over in the elevator.

Even earlier than the truck adventure I was turned loose in the fields with a Case tractor and 16 feet of duck foot culivator. When I came to the corner of the field I was so little I had to grab the big steering wheel with both hands while standing up and pull with all my might downward time and again to get it to turn. I can remember crying because my corners were not anywhere near a 90 degree angle like my Dads.

I think this is about the time I took up swearing and railing at the summer fallow Gods.

Around this time I was enlisted to change all the oil on the vehicles. Most were Chevys with a canister type oil filter. If you have ever done this job you can attest how messy it can be even for an experienced older person. A young fellow around 8 years old makes twice as much of a mess and has a great deal of oily accidents, leaks and problems with oil plugs.. The reason Dad didn’t like this job was because he got dizzy underneath a vehicle. I got quite good at it afterwhile.

Another job Dad did not like or Mom was when we filled a Grain Bin the topping of a bin required someone to crawl up the ladder on the side of the old Butler Bin and while the grain was augering in the top you had to take a long handled shovel and push the grain toward the sides of the bin to completely fill it. I was elected as neither of my parents cared for heights.

The job I hated the worst was grinding barley for the pigs.. Pigs had to have ground grain as whole grain went right through them. We had an old old grinder that was run with a long, wide belt powered by a Power Take off Shaft on a little John Deere tractor. Everything had to be lined up just right and then the fun began. The old grinder was in a wooden shed attached to the floor and what you had to do was to take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with barley and dump it into the top of the open grinder, then when the ground barley came out the bottom you took a scoop shovel and filled a compartment used to store the ground grain. You can’t imagine the noise of the tractor, the grinder and the dust. We had nothing like nice masks, goggles, or earplugs so you put a red handkerchief over your nose and mouth. The noise you just put up with. The whole world seemed to be still making noise even when you finished, and the red handkercheif was almost black around your mouth and nose.

This was all before I was 10 years old. When I was in my early teens I can remember running a Gleaner combine 12 to 14 hours a day in harvest and thinking I was a real man.. You must know that I’m not complaining or feeling sorry for myself, because this is what made me into what I am today. But if you are like me and you look at the little kids and me when I look at my grandkids I’m thinking that someone would yell child abuse if you started em out on the tractor at 4 or 5.. World has changed.

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