Columnist on giving: “Even if you have a boot in your tire”
By Kenneth Farmer
Yesterday, I went down to White Plains, to check on Daddy's old C Farmall. Mr. Ellis Morgan was remanufacturing it (and said not to call it “restored”). After I saw the tractor taken apart, I knew why he had said that. He gave me the rims, because they needed to be sand-blasted and painted. The next morning I got up and went out to the shop to take the old tires off the rims, which had been on the tractor for 35 years. As I sit there resting and wiping the sweat off my head, a lot of memories came back to me of my Daddy and Momma. Daddy planted a lot of corn, mostly to feed the hogs and cows. Each year I would save a vacation week to help Daddy plant corn and then to harvest it. Daddy would harrow in front of me with the old H Farmall. I would plant with the C. It sure was a sweet planting tractor. One afternoon as I walked in their house, Daddy said “Son, come with me.” He had lost a plow sweep. We looked for hours before giving up. Then came harvest time, Daddy would pull two loads of corn a day with the old C Farmall and a corn snapper. It hardly missed an ear. On my way home, I would help unload the load for Daddy. One particular day, I got off early, around 1 p.m., to help him with the corn. I did not find Daddy in the field; he was in his rocking chair. He said the C Farmall had a flat tire. Guess what caused the flat tire-- the plow sweep. It was in the back tire. I thought we would need a new tire. Daddy said, “Let's go get a tube and a tire boot.” When we came out of the store, he had the biggest boots you have ever seen. Now I know, my Daddy didn't have the money to buy a new tire, a tube and a boot would have to do. I wondered how a boot this big would stay in place. Then Daddy made four small holes in the tire and boot. He put four carriage head bolts through the tire. The taps were on the outside. Now, 30 some years later, the tube and boots are still in place.
Daddy also milked two cows by hand every day. I can still see him milking and hear him singing “Amazing Grace.” Momma would churn the milk by hand, the old-fashioned way, while the grandkids would be around her singing “Come Butter Come.” Momma would sell the butter and the buttermilk to help buy groceries.
I would stop by to see Momma and Daddy after work every day. When Momma retired she started fixing new desserts. I always was the guinea pig. She wanted me to try them before giving them to my brothers and sisters. I said it was because she loved me the best!
Daddy could have been financially better off, but he loved sharing with family and friends. He would plant a late garden just to give it away. He used three acres at the bottom of his land next to the creek to use for this specific purpose, just to give to those in need. When he started using this piece of land, the briars were higher than the muffler of that C Farmall. After plowing in five or six times, it was ready to plant. It was always a plentiful garden. Daddy believed it was more blessed to give than to receive. He gave at least 95 percent of this garden away every year. One widow woman went years not knowing who left the fruits and vegetables on her doorstep.
I am here in my house looking at an aerial picture of my Daddy plowing sweet potato plants that a store had thrown away. We nourished them back to life and planted about half an acre of the potatoes. Boy did we have sweet potatoes! When I stopped by Daddy's house on the day he was plowing them up, he has asked an old black man to help him. They hooked an iron beam mule plow behind the C Farmall and were digging up the sweet potatoes. We had sweet potatoes piled up as big as a pick-up truck. I asked Daddy what he was going to do with all those sweet potatoes. He just looked at me and grinned. Each day, the pile got smaller and smaller. As the pile got smaller, so did my Daddy's grin. His giving of the sweet potatoes was almost all gone.
About one year later, Daddy had a heart attack and could not farm. I asked an old friend of his if I could plant watermelons on a small plot of land that my Daddy used to rent from him. Of course the friend said, “Go ahead.” I used Daddy's C Farmall and tiller to round up the terraces. That ended up being the best watermelon patch I ever planted. I asked Daddy to take a ride with me one Saturday. We went to the watermelon patch. He drove the truck as I picked the watermelons up and loaded them on the truck. As we were leaving the watermelon patch, I asked Daddy “Which way?” He did not know what I meant. I explained that this load was his to give away. That's when I saw the grin come back on my Daddy's face. We drove up and down the roads giving away watermelons, until they were all gone. Thank you, Lord, for the grin on my Daddy's face.
As I look at the completely re-manufactured C Farmall, all these wonderful memories came back to me. It is more blessed to give than to receive, even if you have a boot in your tire.
In Loving Memory of Carl Farmer
(A version of this article, submitted to the Citizen by Kenneth Farmer, ran in the December/January 2009 edition of Farm & Ranch Living magazine.)