Read the current Progressive Forage digital edition

Tractor obsessed

Erica Louder for Progressive Forage Published on 03 September 2020

I have a 2-year-old son named Ethan. I’d describe Ethan as a little less than tractor obsessed.

When we are driving down any road in our rural countryside, he will look out the window and anxiously spy out tractors. When he sees one, he will start shouting a chant of, “Momma, momma, momma, momma…” and will continue until I acknowledge him. “What buddy?” He will smile, point out the window and say, “tractor” as reverently as if he were praying.

This game has spread to my older children: 7 and 4-year-old girls. Several weeks ago, the girls and I were headed to their gymnastics class. To get there, we drive by no less than six tractor dealerships representing the gamut of makes and models. They started the “tractor game” and acknowledged every tractor they had time to see as we drove past at 60 miles per hour. They upped the ante and started yelling not just “tractor” but “John Deere,” “Case,” “Kubota,” “New Holland” and “Challenger!” I was honestly impressed they could identify as many as they did. When we got to the gym, Clara, the 4-year-old, out of breath from yelling, said, “I think Ethan has us under his spell.”

Recently, Ethan learned to crawl out of his crib, so it has been a nightmare trying to get him to sleep at night. My husband or I will lay on the floor beside his toddler bed, threatening and bribing, trying to convince him to stay in his bed. One of the bribes my husband recently employed was the promise of tractor videos. He has now learned that tractors are not confined to the outside, but they are readily available via Mom or Dad’s iPhone. He’s a big fan of the YouTube channel Millennial Farmer. On this channel, the farmer host walks us all through his equipment and the day-to-day operations on his mid-western row-crop farm. Ethan also loves less informational channels, like the one where the host just opens up toy tractors and other construction equipment. They call it “unboxing.” I don’t get it either.

I know that tractor obsession is not limited to 2-year-old toddlers. Last week at church, Ethan was playing with a miniature Case tractor, pushing the tractor across the pew and alternatingly backing it up with the accompanying “beep, beep.” Our friend, Mark, who runs a large hay operation, saw Ethan playing with his little Case tractor. Unbeknownst to us, Mark took himself to the co-op that week to buy Ethan a new toy tractor. He presented it to Ethan the next Sunday. It was a miniature John Deere tractor. In raptures over his new toy, Ethan pulled out his old Case tractor from the diaper bag and presented it to Mark to trade. Mark shook his head and said, “I don’t like red tractors, Ethan. You keep both.” You should have seen the excitement in that little boy’s eyes.

I don’t think Mark converted Ethan to John Deere over Case. I think Ethan is an equal opportunity tractor operator. But, maybe the preference is yet to come. Either way, at 2 or 62 or 82, for that matter, some guys are simply tractor obsessed.end mark

PHOTO: Ethan and his cousin Gideon, two tractor obsessed 2-year-olds. Photo by Erica Louder.

Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.