Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gerald, Our Ford

In 1975, four of us bought a run-down former dairy farm in the valley in Herkimer County, New York. That’s dairy country because milk is what the land there is best suited to produce. Being young, urban, and stupid, though, we bought the place for the purpose of growing organic vegetables.

Brian kept his day job in New Jersey for the first year or so that we owned the farm, making the long commute on weekends to help with the repairs and with the horticultural chores (growing vegetables is horticulture, not agriculture; agriculture is the growing of field crops; raising animals is husbandry; raising fruit is pomiculture; it’s all farming but words matter). Brian’s day job was with a company that exported Ford Motor Company parts. He had a good relationship with the boss and was able to get parts at a deep discount. So he quite reasonably insisted that any vehicles we buy be Fords. He was also the only one of us who had any notion of what to do under the hood or chassis of a vehicle. So he was our delegated vehicle buyer. His first purchase was a pickup truck, a used one that was old enough for a shade tree mechanic like Brian to be able to work on it.

As we had bought the farm through the L. C. Ford Agency in town, we naturally named the pickup Elsie.

Brian’s next purchase was a tractor, a , 1947 vintage. was President at the time. The President, despite being an accomplished athlete, had a propensity for stumbling, tripping, and bumping his head pretty much whenever a camera was rolling, a habit for which is heavily indebted to the man. So the first time we sank our little 9N up to the axle in mud—a clumsy mistake on our part, not the tractor’s fault at all—we decided to name it Gerald, Our Ford.

Gerald, Our Ford, is still running, as far as I know (we eventually sold it). Gerald R. Ford died at 93, the day after Christmas and just a few months after his doctor told him he could no longer swim laps twice a day as he’d been doing until then. I don’t think the tractor will survive to 93.

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