[Question:] "The first tractor you ever got on was the [what was it?]"
     [Question:] "Kubota."
     "The 27-horse."
     [Question:] "And what was it like driving that?"
     "Oooooh, it was fun. It was fun. Just, we had a sickle blade out behind it, that's how you mowed. It was open air. It was little. We now use it to mow our lawn. We've got a big lawn, but we have a big mower. It was not fast. I think top speed in that thing is about eight miles an hour [and] that's 'road' gear. You didn't mow anywhere near that. It really is, it's a great little tractor. I wouldn't get rid of it. I mean, that tractor is going to be in our barn until the day we go on to Never-Never land. But, you know, and then you graduate up – get bigger and bigger… To pull the bigger equipment the tractors need to be bigger. And it's a never ending. What you think is 'a God's plenty' today, three years from now they're going to come out with a piece of equipment that you really, really think you need and you want. But your tractor's not going to pull it and it's like 'Uh, Gosh! Why didn't I go with just that little bit bigger?' Everything grows. The discs, the planters that used to be for six rows, now are 12, 16, 24 rows. The, the drills that used to be 10 or 15 feet are now 30, 45, 60. Horsepower on a tractor, I don't know my horsepower, but they continually, I know this next one was 50 horsepower more than the one that he had before. You need it for the bigger. Everything is bigger. And they're not as fun but they're probably healthier and safer. The open-air, I can't imagine farming in open-air tractors like they used to. The spray! When you're in a cab now and you've got filters everywhere, it's kind of like driving in a car. You don't catch the spray you're putting on. You don't catch the drift. You don't catch the dirt and the dust and the this and the that. And they used to just be right out there in it."
     [Question:] "So, what do you have now?"
     "Gosh, he just got an 83-10 [John Deere model]. 83-30? He just bought a new tractor. It's not my tractor. It's David's tractor. David runs green [John Deere], I run red [Case IH]. We have the red combine, I run the red combine. And we rent a tractor every year to do the discing, and we rent red. But he runs green. He runs the John Deere."
     [Question:] "This is tremendously unusual, right? Because most farmers are either red or they're green."
     "Or green."
     [Question:] "One or the other."
     "Yup. That is true. Most of them are. But I think a lot of times you'll find that combines – They may have all one color tractor, but a lot of times the combine could possibly be a different color. My father got started with red equipment. He used to laugh and say 'It was the closest [dealership].' So when we first started farming using dad's equipment, we farmed with red. Which probably was why Dave bought green. It was an old tractor. It was a [model] 1480, old tractor. We had a 1060, too. So, they were old and small. And David bought larger John Deere and – Personally I say it's because the International seat is geared more for a woman and a John Deere seat is geared more for a man. John Deere seats used to be really big. I would just slide in it. It was uncomfortable. International seats are usually a little smaller. They fit!"
     [Question:] "And that's important."
     "It is important. You're in there a lot. Well, during harvest you'll climb in at 7:00 [a.m.] and get out at 7:00 or 8:00 that night. There again, it's another benefit to just being the two of us. When I'm tired or he's tired, we just say, 'We need to knock off.' There are those that are going at 6:00 [a.m.] and they're still going at 10:00 or 11:00 o'clock at night. I like my rest."

Heather Derr – Her First Tractor


Other Excerpts from Heather Derr’s Interview:

Their "Moderate Size" Farm
Government Subsidies
Women on the Farm
Choosing to Farm
Raising Kids for Export
Drugs in Rural America
The Miracle of Growing Plants
"Roughing" Weeds
Farmers are Conservationists
Using GPS Tools
Computers on the Farm