Dad was one of the first farmers on Oak Grove Ridge to get in the fields in the springtime. The frost was not quite out of the ground when my dad started plowing. Seems he was the first to plow the sod under in April, the first to cut hay in late May, and the first to cut grain in July with the grain binder.
When I was growing up, my dad began the transition from horses to tractors. By the time I could help, he would hitch up the old Allis Chalmers U tractor with a two-bottom plow. It was a slow tractor with steel wheels that had chisel-like lugs on the back wheels. I recall walking in the freshly plowed field and seeing ice crystals in the furrows. Frost still hardened the ground, but Dad was turning over the sod to put in an oats crop.
I remember once walking behind that Allis Chalmers U tractor when I was coming home from the fields for dinner. I was four years old. I can still taste the dust, and feel the dirt and gravel that was kicked up by the steel cleats. I can smell the black smoke streaming from the exhaust pipe. When the tractor went on the gravel road, it would leave indentations in the highway. My tiny feet fit into each cleat-induced pockmark perfectly.
One time that Allis Chalmers U tractor got stuck in the sand hill field. Our fields had names: the long field, the small field, the sinkhole field, the hill field. One field, called sand hill, was close to the house and had twin hills of poor soil or sand. That old Allis Chalmers U tractor was pulling a two-bottom 14-inch plow. The wheel lugs dug down in the sand, and just kept digging deeper and deeper. Finally, Dad had to put timbers and logs across the path of the tractor so that the lugs would catch onto them and pull the tractor forward.
Laying timbers or posts ahead of the wheel lugs didn’t quite do the job on one memorable spring day. The wheel had dug down so deep, that the tractor didn’t have enough power to pull the tractor forward. Dad had to dig out some sand, so that the logs could be placed lower and the tractor did not have to lift as far. After numerous swear words, the tractor and plow were freed from the sand hill field.