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How Tom the Tractor Got His Name

My mother had just returned from visiting our Irish relatives when she said emphatically,

"I want a Tom!".

Confused, we asked her what she meant. It turns out our cousins, who had retired "well" as they say, had hired a gardener to take on the heavy lifting of maintaining their 1/2 acre garden.

Tom would arrive every morning and over a cup of coffee, they would discuss the tasks for the day. Then Tom would head out. My cousins got to supervise and reap the bounty of a beautifully maintained garden without ever lifting a finger.

I could sympathize with my mother. Landscaping and gardening our own land was exhausting. It is one thing to move a wheel barrel 50 ft and another to push it 300 ft through muddy clay, fully loaded with a new tree to be planted.

Now I come from a family of doers, not complainers. We have managed many houses and many gardens over the years and when things need to get done, we do them. Children were handy because they could do a lot of the grunt work. But most of the children had moved on and those that visit now are all getting older. Though active, bad knees and backs can get in the way of moving rocks and dirt and even planting trees.

Now my husband also grew up in a family of renovators and gardeners. He even ran his own landscaping and small job business for a while. He knows the value of hard work. He also knows now how to avoid it. And so began the discussions with my parents regarding a tractor.


It took a few years and a few broken lawnmowers and snow blowers but eventually, my father graciously offered to help up purchase a John Deere sub-compact tractor. With a variety of implements, it mows the lawn, shovels snow, grades driveways and moves logs, gravel and many other things.

It has become an invaluable contribution to not only our lands but also the neighbours. Sean will often offer to move snow or fix a driveway if need be. Payment in beer is always welcome.

Of course, when the time came to name the tractor, only one name would suit.

Tom has had many adventures and Sean has loved every minute of it. Some men dream of sports cars, Sean dreams of tractors. Whenever I pull out the wheel barrel he scowls at me and shows me how the tractor can do the job better. I can drive the thing, but really, it's his domain.

At the moment, the tractor is diesel but John Deere is developing an electric version. When it comes time to upgrade the machine, that's the one we will choose.



T-shirt found in Belfast, Ireland artisanal market

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