Western Brown’s Leto excels in Australia Rockets ready for 1st season in SBAAC Paddling, hiking activities available at Ohio State Parks SB Warriors get set to hit gridiron for 2nd year of varsity football Scotty W Johnson Glenna V Moertle Ricky L Hoffer Ruth E Ward David A Watson Janet L Dotson Vilvie S King Steven C Utter Cropper joins Fallis at Bethel-Tate Local kids find success in world of martial arts 13th annual Bronco 5K Run and Fitness Walk set for Aug. 5 Teams compete in memory of Randy Fulton Mike W Smith Roger Helton David A Borders Timothy E Argenbright Joseph W Sherrill Frances K Pedigo Cecil N Graham Sawyers charged in sex for heroin plot Group demands changes at ELSD Blanche Malblanc Pauline L Kirk Over 70 take part in 11th Joe Myers 5K Classic Lions Club 4th of July Festival brings outdoor fun to Ripley ODNR reminds visitors to swim safe this summer Changes in high school track and field/cross country rules include school issued and approved uniforms Betty L Philpott Judy B Williams Billie J Russell Remembering Ravye 25 attend volleyball camp in Fayetteville Western Brown hosts Pee Wee Football Camp Eugene L Baumann Kids enjoy a ‘Touch-a-Truck’ event in Mt. Orab New police chief takes over in Fayetteville BC Chamber moving forward on 2017 SummerFest Two killed in wrong way crash in Mt. Orab Jack Hamilton Charles L Glover Maxine M Stires Western Brown youth basketball camps a success Leto to represent Team USA in Australia Broncos hard at work in preparation for fall season Eastern approves bowling team Phyllis Ruth Lois A Manley Eddie L Carr Thomas L Carnahan Cameron Barkley Walter J McGee Gary J Graham George D Johnson Walter F Crawford Jr Charles E Meranda Jr Corbin testifies before Ohio Senate Five arrested in Hamersville drug bust Neil Diamond tribute band coming Hyde finds home at Midway Youngsters work to improve on hoop skills at Eastern basketball camps Sizer named All-District Honorable Mention Western Brown’s Barnes earns All-State, All-District honors Local players compete in SWOFCA Ron Woyan East/West All-Star Game 6th annual Ravye Williams Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament set for June 24 Clarence E Teal Rosie B Poe Monard C Boots James P Conrad James T Dinser Scott J Swearingen Eastern’s Farris earns award for top 2-point field percentage in Ohio Georgetown’s Seigla earns All-District honors OHSAA announces 2017 football regions and playoffs format Western Brown volleyball camps a success with over 100 in attendance Rigdon finishes high school running career with 10th place finish at state track and field championship meet Grace E Fite Women return to county jail as funds start to run low Georgetown Council takes action on vacant structures Veterans honored in Mt. Orab John McGee Timmy Burson Patricia A London Mary J Hall Kenneth R Behymer Western Brown’s Joe Sams commits to Marietta College WBHS to hold girls youth basketball camp Huseman signs with UC Clermont Day to continue baseball career on collegiate level at UC Clermont Western’s Pack signs with NKU WBHS to host youth boys basketball camp Eastern’s Rigdon, Hopkins are STATE BOUND James Ratliff Robert P Lesko Armstrong sentenced to twenty years on child porn possession charges Russellville hires new Village Clerk Russellville Council approves purchase of two ambulances

The old grey Ford

I reached up and grabbed a hold of the steering wheel with my left hand as I stepped up and swung my right leg across the gear shift and leaned back into her seat. I felt a slight give as my full weight settled into the familiar curve.

I pulled the throttle down half way with my right hand, and with my left I reached around the cowling and turned the ignition key to the on position. I did not need to look. I felt the familiar click and new that I would have spark.

I was almost ready to fire her up, but first I pushed in the clutch with my left foot as I stood on the brake pedals with my right. I pulled the gear shifter towards me and made certain, with few flicks of my wrist, that she was in neutral, and only then did I reach down with my right hand to push solidly on the starter button.

The engine cranked over once, and then with a contented chortle, took to life. This old grey tractor never ceases to amaze me. Her paint might be chipped and faded, and a bit of rust shows through here and there. Her front grill is lopsided, the result of some ancient encounter, and her comfortable seat has a good sized tear up the middle, but her engine purrs like a kitten and her gears shift as though they were passing through butter. I could not love this old machine any more.

We sat there and idled for a while. I looked up at the blue sky overhead. I could see a few buzzards circling high over the creek valley closer to the river, and then, foot firmly on the clutch, I pushed midway down on the gear shift and slid her into second gear. I engaged the bush hog blade, set the deck at a good height, and headed out into the garden jungle.

Wisps of dill and lemon basil mingled beautifully with the hearty odors of tractor grease. Rotted pumpkin and huge zucchini, that had escaped my jungle forages, popped like small firecrackers under the tractor’s tires, and slowly, row by row, the jungle was tamed.

Pass by pass, what had been my humiliation of a once perfect garden gone wild, was laid to rest. And even when I was finished, I continued to make more passes, letting the churning bush hog blade make absolutely certain that no aberrant stalks still stood.

Finally, I pulled off to the side and stopped under the shade of the big oak tree. I put the tractor in neutral and idled her down as I disengaged the bush hog blades. We sat there, and I thought. I imagined the tractor looking with her bug eyes, out across the garden field, as I leaned forward and put my elbows on her steering wheel, my chin resting on the backs of my hands.

Surely this had been an exceptionally wet year. Cultivating had been impossible, and even weeding by hand had been a nightmare. It was simply too wet to walk out into the garden, and the weed stalks had grown as thick as my thumb while the root crops had rotted away.

But as I sat in the shade of the tree, I grew excited about my next gardening season. We will till six foot aisles, separated by grass strips that Greg can mow with the zero turn. I will ride the setter and plant two rows down each six foot isle, one aisle for tomatoes, another for dill and fennel, others for peppers, squash, potatoes, and carrots and herbs. The six foot aisles of crops will still be wide enough that if the weather and ground allow, we can run the little Cub with the cultivators up and down the rows, but if the weather and ground do not allow, I can still stand in the grassy strips and reach out to hoe and even harvest my crops.

So next year I will have the perfect garden, but no matter what the season brings, I know that I will be able to count on the old grey Ford. I know that she will always fire right up, and be ready to till, to plant, and even to bush hog.

Oh my gosh! I just realized that this old tractor could not really be all that old. She was only built in 1956, and I date back to 1954. Imagine that. Perhaps that is why we share such a special affinity.

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