My 1949 Minneapolis Moline ZA tractor:
She is sleek and beautiful in all of her Prairie Gold and Cherry Red splendor. I can feel the work she’s done in the field over the last 64 years and the hands that started her and cared for her. Although she has a small leak or two around the engine block, it does not stop her from the love of the tractor drive or pulling her Case one-way through the field in the spring.
She is the first tractor I’ve ever owned. My love found her for me and took me to go for a drive where we ended up seeing her in the driveway of her former owner. It is special to me that he took the time to find her and then to get me to her and then to bring her home. I will always treasure the caring that went into that. Talking with her former owner, Joe, I knew that she had been loved. I will never forget the way Joe stood on his deck and watched the ZA until we were out of sight around the corner. I captured her journey home and wrote the story, sending it to Joe and his wife Thelma, so they would know she had a new and very good home where she would be equally loved and cared for.
She represents a time gone by when life was simple and honest and true. She represents family and working hard and feeling good about that hard work at the end of the day. She represents good rest after hard work. She represents love of land and the sun on your shoulders and the wind in your face. She represents a connection to a time and place that are very difficult to find anymore.
My tractor makes me feel powerful. When I run this tractor I feel like I am in charge of the world, like I am free and wild, unrestrained and no one can hold me back. It is much the same feeling I have when I ride a horse.
The memories that this object evokes are of a beautiful drive through the mountains with Robert. I was completely unaware that he had planned this drive to introduce me to the ZA. I like to think that all the memories of everyone who ever owned this tractor are mine now. Her low purr reminds me of the story of The Little Engine Who Could.
She has carried me over many roads for work and for pleasure. Even the work is pleasure when she is involved. She is not flashy, but will catch your eye because she is unique. She is not so much powerful, but she gets the job done. She is a character! She embodies resilience, strength, purpose, courage and simple beauty.
She could tell you so many stories of a family farm and purchasing a brand new tractor to make the work easier. She could tell you of little children climbing on for a ride and of men driving her from dawn to dusk to work the field, plant the crop, harvest the crop, and start all over again. She could tell of her journey across the country, and landing in a little mountain town in Colorado and then being totally refurbished and readied for tractor pull contests. She could tell you of all the trophies she won and of the sadness of age catching up to her owners and their decision to let her go. She could tell you of that last journey from the mountains to the eastern plains of Colorado and going to tractor shows and pulling grain binders and bundle wagons and hay sleds to feed cattle and one-ways to work fields and so much more. She is my Minneapolis Moline ZA.