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Farm implement tribes and how to tell them apartPosted Tuesday, December 7, 2010, at 5:02 PM
When recently putting together an all-color Ag magazine (coming out soon!) for the Marshall Messenger, those of us working on it were trying to decide between two pictures. Both were great pics, but the final decision came down to color. No, not the clarity of color, but instead the color of the tractor in the photograph.
A colleague couldn't believe we were making such an important decision on something he deemed as unimportant as a tractor's color. He confessed that to me after he went home and discussed it with his wife who was raised on a farm.
She apparently told him what people from farms seem to already know: When it comes to your farm equipment -- color matters.
I've interviewed Century Farm families who have talked about how "Great-grandpa would be upset to know we now run green (red, blue, yellow) tractors on the farm," etc., adding how grandpa once thought the best brand to be ... red, green, orange or silver.
You can insert any color, it doesn't matter, the loyalty to the colors run that deep.
It's much like a NASCAR fan, who knows just what type of car his favorite racer drives (and what product sponsors him). Farm families, too, can easily be identified by their "color."
Even when my sons were very young they would get excited when a "geen" tractor went by thinking it might be their father. Let a red tractor go by and they knew it was probably our neighbor, "Misser" Hollywood.
I've often heard of family arguments when a woman from a "green" family marries into a "red" family and fights ensue. The biggest ones seem to be when it comes to the color of the toy tractors the grandparents buy for the grandchildren.
Imagine poor little Johnny or Susie who get tractors of varying colors for Christmas? Talk about an identity crisis.
However, I can tell you how our little ones handled it. For a few years, until she found the Lee's Summit John Deere dealer, it took awhile for their "City" Grandma to realize that all "greens" were not created equal. (It also took her a few years until they taught her the difference between a combine and a tractor, but that's another story.)
But instead of being upset, those presents just became the tractor they would always be glad to "share." Yes, if you played "farm" with my children, it was never the shiny green and yellow tractor you would drive, but the light green, red or blue tractor someone not as schooled about the importance of farm colors had given them. (Hey, at least they were "sharing.")
Yes, color became so important that my son, when asked his favorite colors for a pre-school project, proudly proclaimed, "John Deere green and John Deere yellow." His teacher said she had never had a four-year-old be quite so "specific."
In recent years some large tractor companies have merged, meaning that people who had always had an orange Allis-Chalmers, a silver White or even a white Case, would have to make new choices.
In Saline County, the closing of the Case-International dealer meant that some people had to merge "colors" or drive a little farther for parts and service. Depending on the family, both scenarios have happened.
On our farm through the years we too, have "evolved." In fact, in recent years we've even brought a new color and brands onto our farm. The new equipment (luckily a similar color to our favorite college team) now mingles (apparently without any problems) with the green and yellow equipment in our shed.
No doubt our change raised eyebrows with neighbors and others ... a bit like the controversy when Dale Jr. changed NASCAR teams.
It even confused our nephew from Portland, who we had apparently already brainwashed with the presents we had sent him. When we showed him our new combine in person, he cried and refused to go for a ride.
"That's not a combine. It's not g-e-e-e-e-e-n," the three-year-old wailed. Like I said, here on the farm, color does matter. Even if it really doesn't.
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