this week has been CRAZY. i’ve been all over northern illinois with my family and i’ve only been able to check my email THREE TIMES. THREE. if you know me, you know this is insanity. generally i’ll check my email three times in – seriously – 15 minutes. i’ve got this stuff to finish up for fb and i’ve only had time to work on it once. luckily i knocked out a good portion in one swipe, but still. i’m feeling the compu-withdrawal with a side of no-internet shakes.

an old pro and his trusty john deere

or am i? because wednesday i went up to durand with a whole branch of my family on my mom’s side and went to my first tractor pull, and. it. was. fantastic. if it hadn’t been so g.d. hot i could’ve stayed there for hours. the efficiency of this event was crazy:

  1. tractor hauls sled with giant weight (23 ton block of cement and who knows what else that automatically advances up the angled bed of the sled to increase resistance) to the starting end of the track
  2. simultaneously the bobcat zips out from the finishing end of the track and scrapes and grades any dirt that’s been kicked up by the last competing tractor’s spinning wheels
  3. tractor hauling a giant roller flattens the whole track by driving from the track’s finishing end to starting end and back at a speed that seems pretty dangerous when you’re sitting on the ground about 20 feet away from the whole thing
  4. competing tractor hitches up and hauling tractor releases
  5. as soon as the tractor with the roller is part-way back to the finishing end of the track, the competing tractor starts his pull
  6. the dude sitting on the sled by the weight monitors the speed at which the weight travels up the sled (faster or slower depending on the tractor’s class) while the guy with the flags watches for the point when the tractor is no longer pulling, but spinning its wheels
  7. tractor loses traction (or astoundingly makes it to the end of the track effortlessly), flag guy waves the flags and unhitches the tractor while the hauling tractor re-hitches and the guy on the sled releases the weight and radios the distance pulled to the officials.
  8. see step 1: tractor hauls the sled back to the start as the weight settles down at the end of the sled on what looks like springs for a semi’s suspension

all of this happens in just a few minutes. there’s probably only about a minute between when one tractor stops pulling and the next one starts.

this tractor pull was for antiques, so i got to see a lot of tractors from the 1930s and 1940s. i saw farmers competing with tractors that their fathers and grandfathers had probably used for past pulls. i saw these young farmers totally getting their asses handed to them by these old overweight farmers leaning back to add their weight to the tractor’s torque – guys who knew what they were doing and weren’t shy about showing those young guys a thing or two. i saw farmers crying out, coaxing their tractors to go a little further: “come on baby! give me one more gear!”

photos will be posted in coming weeks are posted, including one of this guy in a john deere (the only john deere i saw pull [we’re a john deere family]) that made it all the way to the end of the track.