My (Evil) Tractor

I knew something was seriously wrong after no one else bid on the tractor – but by then it was too late and I owned it.

It happened at an estate auction not far from home.

The only thing of value was an old Minneapolis Moline tractor dozing in the weeds. So when the auctioneer started the bid at fifty bucks, I raised my hand.

Everyone else kept their hands buried deep in their pockets.

After the gavel came down, a neighbor shuffled over to ask, “You ever heard of Old Bill Dahler?”

I told him no.

“He lived to be a hundred and fifteen years old,” he said, “Do you know how he managed that?”


“It took over a hundred years for the devil to work up the courage to take him.”

I laughed.

He didn’t.

“Old Bill was so nasty that rattlesnakes refused to bite him and tornadoes veered out of his way. The only thing mean enough to get along with him was that tractor and some say a bit of Bill still lives in it.”

I figured he was pulling my leg.

“Have you thought about how you are going to get it home?” he asked.

“I’m going to drive it, if it starts.”

“I feared as much,” he said. “Mind if we move our trucks first?”

So they did. The circle of pickups parked around the auction site unspooled itself and threaded its way down the driveway to form a long line on the shoulder of the county road.  Everyone wanted to watch.

With the aid of jumper cables and fresh gas, we got the old beast snorting black smoke in less than a minute.

I swear nothing touched the clutch or the shift lever but the instant I settled in the seat, the old tractor reared up on its drawbar and bucked me off.

I rolled frantically out of the way and it is lucky I did because after it threw me, it spun around and pounced.  If I hadn’t scampered onto the boggy ground of the Minnesota Mosquito Preserve, I would have been a goner.

Then it turned on the onlookers, who beat an undignified retreat – leaving me to slush about in the swamp while the tractor patrolled an adjoining field.  Every time I stepped onto firmer soil, it pawed at the ground with its big rear tires, snorted blue smoke and charged.

So I called my buddy Stan.  He can fix anything.

“Have you ever driven the devil out of a machine?”

“Not yet,” he said.

“Do you know how?“

“Not really but I can ask around.”

By the time Stan arrived, the tractor had run out of gas.  So we winched it up onto a flat bed and lashed it down with logging chains, least it get any ideas on the way back to my shed.

There – Stan began an elaborate ceremony.

He produced a cardboard box full of scented candles and set about arranging them in a complex configuration.  He formed a ring around each massive tire with canning jars full of multi-colored wax and lined the hood with smaller ones, ensuring that each was a different color and shape.  Next he carefully placed candles in the recesses of the engine and radiator.

After he was done with that, he turned off the shed lights and in the eerie glow of hundreds of flames set about sprinkling herbs and incense onto every surface of the tractor that would hold them.

Then he stepped back and folded his arms to watch and wait.

“Gosh Stan,” I asked, “aren’t you supposed to recite incantations or read from an old scroll or something?”

“What for?” he asked.

“To drive old man Dahler out of my tractor,” I said.

“Naw,” he said, “I’m going to let the scented candles and potpourri do that.”


“Dude… have you ever been to a tourist town?” he asked.

“Sure, who hasn’t?”

“Ever seen how wives drag their husbands into little shops with cute names, only to have the old guys scamper back out as soon as they catch a whiff of the candles and poporri?”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“Hey, I figured it would work on the spirit of old man Dahler just as well.”

And it did.

Author: Almost Iowa

47 thoughts on “My (Evil) Tractor”

  1. That’s the most unusual exorcism I’ve ever heard of, and one of the nicest, too. But then again, if they’d done that with Linda Blair, The Exorcist would have been a really boring movie. And Barb is right: your posts are always worth reading!

    1. I wonder how The Exorcist would have fared using potpourri. The movie would not have been as scary but a whole lot more realistic. Few demons can put up with the stuff for long. I believe the subject was covered in one of my all time favorite books (seriously) Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore.

  2. Great story. I wanted you to know that there are a handful of blogs that I try to always read. Yours is one that I always look for, although I’m sure I’ve missed some when I’ve been MIA from blogging. This year I’m trying to post more consistently. Which also means I’ll be reading yours more consistently.
    I just wanted to tell you that you are one of my favorites. Happy New Year!

      1. So I read your reply and then replied to you, asking if you could check out my blog. Then I scrolled further down on my comments and there you had hours and hours ago. Oops. Thank you for your support, as well!

  3. Have you ever thought that the tractor might be grieving for old man Dahler. I think I would be ashamed of myself. I mean, tractors have feelings too. Then on top of ignoring the tractor’s feelings, you call in Stan. I think you need to get down on your knees and apologize to that tractor. I know of what I speak. I am a retired tractor psychologist. If you show the love, the tractor will respond in kind. And you will get many more years of usage from that tractor.

    1. “If you show the love, the tractor will respond in kind.”

      I have found that to be true with most things… but tractors? Naw, they are too stubborn for love, rage suits them better. Same with bulldozers.

  4. But what happens when all the potpourri falls off the tractor or wears out in the shed? Old Bill Dahler may re-inhabit the cranky case, and you might need to visit one of those lovely stores…

        1. Some Geek Squad coworkers provided their own analog variety. Possibly this aided rapid resolution of glitches.

          Not a bad strategy to reduce user calls, come to think on it.

  5. Stan knew what he was doing. There are shops I refuse to go into as soon as I open the door and get a whiff of that overwhelming stench scent. The good news is, those shops often have a rocking chair out front, where a person could sit and wait for a wayward tractor to come by.

    1. And if one has the foresight to have reading glasses and a good novel on hand (one should never leave the house without them) then a great afternoon can be had by all.

  6. My boys still hate the smell of scented candles as it reminds them of having to shop with mom in “craft” shops! LOL!

        1. Ooops, I always had a problem with set theory. It’s those circles that slice into other circles that always drove me nuts. It gets worse as you approach Quantum Physics – which was actually how old man Dahler got into the tractor. Everything really is a part of something else and we swap so many atoms and electrons that it is hard to figure out who and what we really are….

  7. Our first tractor with power steering was crazy. Of course, it had a spinner attached to the steering wheel. At the end of a row when you had to turn around, the steering would lock and head you at the fence row. Or, it would lock in the turned position so you couldn’t straighten out. Both those force a frantic pull on the clutch handle to stop. Scariest of all was when it locked going down the road in high gear.

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