What's With the Tractor Thing?

My second official day of posting and I've already fielded several questions regarding my blog title and its relevance to the photo of the three girls and I. This particular photo was taken at Brittany's wedding reception in California and I love it. It oozes spunky femininity! There's nothing bashful about it; each of us boldly mugging for the camera in our wedding finery. We look like we could take-on the world!

So much for the photo. What about the whole 'tractor thing'?

If you've spent any real time on the west coast, you know that homeowners there rarely do their own gardening, let alone mow their own lawns. This work is generally considered menial and is hired out. In the '70s, all the gardening was done by Asian landscapers and maintenance crews. Pristine white pick-up trucks hauling little white trailers would pull up in front of a customer's home. All four doors would swing open and several Asian men in clean, white maintenance coveralls would swarm out over the customer's property. Within minutes the yard-work was complete and the process reversed itself. It was quite a site to behold. Fast forward forty years and the same work is now being done by Mexican immigrants (don't bother asking for documents), minus the pristine white pick-ups and coveralls.

A few years before we left California, my husband decided he was going to assume our yard maintenance responsibilities, so he bought a push mower. I admit feeling a bit embarrassed and wondered what the neighbors might think of us, doing our own yard work. I even admit to worrying that I might at some point be expected to walk behind that mower. Yikes!

Upon moving back east, we had the opportunity to purchase a summer cottage a little more than an hour north of our city house. On our weekend jaunts north, we were awestruck by the expansive lawns associated with the country residences we'd pass along the way. Culture shock! We were further awed by the fact that so many of the properties were being maintained by women riding big ugly, noisy tractors.

I don't mean to imply that I'd never seen a woman riding a lawn tractor before. I myself was out on the family mower by age twelve, with the wind blowing my hair, sucking in all those gas fumes and imagining I was riding a John Deere across the back forty. I loved it!

Unfortunately, my tractor riding days came to an abrupt halt when the pom-poms on the poncho I was wearing (remember, it was the late '60s) got tangled in the engine. I was almost strangled to death in the middle of the front lawn, neighbors watching and all. My Dad, who fell two stories off a ladder while rescuing me, decided my riding the tractor was too great a liability and put an end to it. I'm not sure my mother ever really understood my fascination with the tractor. She felt much better arming me with a screwdriver, a pair of gardening gloves and sending me out to dig dandelions.

In the late '90s, my husband, the girls and I owned and maintained a small horse farm in southern Florida where the girls became as comfortable and confident driving a tractor or ATV as most women are driving a car.

Which brings us back to the women on tractors seen plowing their way across western Pennsylvania. I'd like to think they're out there, simply because they can be, not because they have to be. Unconcerned about the neighbors and what they may think. Full of spunk and ready to take on the world!


  1. great stuff...good luck with your blog, sis.

  2. Remember I took a tractor- riding class at the Agricultural school in LA.

  3. oh I love that Rob is the "commish". awesome. Must say I've never riden a tractor, but I'd like to consider myself a part of this "crew" of women on tractors please. ;)