The Clerk in the Country

Friday 7th May 2021

Mechanical horses

By my early childhood the famous “little grey Fergie” tractors of the post-war period had been superseded by distinctive white David Browns, surely an impractical choice of colour for farm work, and a series of more sensible red Massey Fergusons, which increased in size as the years went by.

In a brief spell as a tractor driver one summer holiday my machine of choice was the MF65.  Already out-of-date, with a roll bar rather than a cab and an ambling gait, this small tractor had the feel of a mechanical horse.  Riding up and down a field in the open air on a sunny day provided that sense of connection with nature which the past few months have shown to be so important.

Modern tractors, huge in comparison and vastly more powerful, their air-conditioned cabs equipped with computer technology and satellite connections, seem very far removed from the MF65, but “my” little tractor still has its place. Restored and maintained by an enthusiast it defies its half century to do a day’s work at an easy task.  I spot it occasionally in a neighbouring village, ambling gently across a field, tossing hay behind it.