Young Kids and Old Iron

| 4/17/2012 2:25:31 PM

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!

4/23/2012 2:48:21 AM

Minnie, many of my favorite memories from youth are from the sit of a tractor. I spent many days on my uncle's farm helping him do the farming. By the age of ten I was the master of the 1949 John Deere "B" model tractor. Every thing from hauling hay and beans to mowing down the alfalfa was accomplished from the well worn seat. There was no cab, airconditioning, power steering, or even an umbrella. It was before sun screen was invented so weather skin protected me from the heat and wind. By the time I was in middle school I had graduated to having my own tractor and help farm my Dad's 80 acres. That tractor was a arm breaking 1928 F-20 Farmall. It had all of about 15 horse power. Not even as much as a lawn tractor of today. I started with steel wheels until Dad decided we should have rubber tires instead. The last tractor that I wish I had kept was a miniature John Deere model "D" I think. I was about 3/4 the size of the "B" model and we used it for spraying weeds. Weed spraying was a great job as opposed to walking the rows with a corn knife to chop out the weeds. By the time I reached college the new field (pun intended) of interest was technology. I made a 40 year career out of it but still have fond memories of those tractors and needed driving skills to master before a field was entered. Have a great day on the old iron. P.S. Pioneer Village in Minden is an awesome place.

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