“… their insides are open to view, simple, clear, and direct …”

They seem to come with the houses these days.  Who would buy one otherwise?  And for what?  But once received as a gift, or once inherited, one finds many uses for them.  One might finally ask, What did we do without this machine?

I suspect there’s a part of the brain that longs for black dirt, and digging in it, smelling it.  If lucky enough to have been born with gardens and real crops and big machines, one inherits a love of digging.  And of dirt.  Southern dirt is best, but what we have is New England dirt.

We inherited the tractor with the house we took over from my in-laws ten years ago.  It came with the three-stall garage which half-serves as a barn to those with a history of farming.  We have old family photos of my father-in-law farming the lower two acres with the FarmAll.  In my memory of him, he is sitting high up on that black seat with that wide-brimmed straw hat on his nearly-bald head, with that patient pace of his, with that look that said he had all day to plow the corn field, in those baggy Levis, in those L.L.Bean rubber shoes.  Then that mild reporting at day’s end of the earth he had moved, the dirt he’d played in.  Before putting the FarmAll with its specialized plough attachments to bed at night, he’d tend to it, check its oil with the dipstick, kick its giant tires, then wedge it into its tight space, wiping his greasy hands on a rag and stamping his feet at the back door.  Word is that photos exist of his dad on the same tractor – he’d bought it, after all, to do some real farming – but we don’t seem to have them.  It’s enough to know that our FarmAll has served three generations faithfully.

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