Grit Blogs > Nature and Gardening at the Edge

Young Kids and Old Iron

Minnie Hatz headshotOne of the local parks is a farm park with animals, educational exhibits, and even an old tractor for kids to play on. Why do kids like tractors? Even those children who live in town near the park seem to enjoy climbing on, grabbing the steering wheel and making tractor noises.

Perhaps the older, smaller tractors seem more kid-friendly. Newer four-wheel-drive tractors that have many steps up to the cab may seem a little daunting to little people. If you want to have some fun, let kids explore tractors. Perhaps you have some in the back or have neighbors who won’t mind letting kids explore their equipment. Some other ways are at farm auctions or at farm parks.

My father was a steam engine fan, and we could not drive past a steam engine without stopping to look it over. I learned the names of the steam engine and theshing machine manufacturers at a young age. And yes, I was allowed to climb around on them. Addmittedly, a steam engine is not small, and certainly when they were fired up I was less brave about climing on them. But my early introduction to old farm equipment led to a lifelong love of rural life, old tractors and history.

Old time steam engine at a farm show

While my grandkids live in town, I am doing all that I can to pass along the rural lifestyle and particularly the historical aspects. We have been to fairs and looked at the tractor shows (and all of the other neat stuff), and I have thoughts of taking them to Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska (, at a later date. While not all exhibits and shows will allow kids to climb on and grab the wheel, there are still lessons to be learned from the ground.

I was encouraged when the one grandson wanted a toy combine for his birthday. Admittedly, some of his knowledge of combines comes from a "Cars" movie. But I bought him the combine and later a CD on combine manufacturing that he saw on display at the farm store. We all learned a lot about combines from that CD!

If you don’t know much about older tractors, antique tractor shows can be a great history lesson for the entire family. The owners and collectors are usually more than happy to tell you all about their tractor, how it fits in the historical development of tractors, how much power it has, and how it operates. An interesting point that I have found is that many of the large, older tractors have no more horsepower than a modern garden tractor.

Old tractor at a farm show

Tractor weight and design gave the old tractors the pulling power necessary for farm work, while the little garden tractor is fuel efficient and simply pulls itself and turns the mower blades using the same horsepower. Can you imagine plowing a field with no more horsepower than a garden tractor has?

Everyone can’t live on the farm, but we can all help pass along our rural heritage. As the weather warms up, get those kids out to see some tractors!

Tyke on a tractor at a farm park