When we bought our olive grove we were lucky enough to be able to purchase a load of equipment along with it. Lots of this is olive related, like the press, and the harvesting stuff, but we also got a TRACTOR!! It is big, and I have to admit that I was more than a little apprehensive about driving it. At least I’ve always driven manual cars, so the gears are fine. Except there are ten forward gears, and two for reverse. And separate brakes for the right and left sides. And did I mention it’s big?! And apparently it’s possible to flip it somehow. Or is this an urban (rural!) myth? It still concerns me a little… But I plucked up the courage to climb up into the driving seat and turn the key. It happened to be a beautiful day for my first drive. The sun was shining, the breeze was a light whisper, the lambs were frolicking and baa-ing away in the field next door as I set off… I was hooked!
I began by going very slowly in a straight line. A long way away from our precious olive trees! I gradually picked up a little courage, and speed, and managed to change gear. Grinning from ear to ear. I drove happily to the far end of the pasture, and turned around and came back. I still wasn’t really going very fast, but it’s kind of hard to tell when you’re so high up! I felt as if I could have carried on for hours, but the sun was starting to set, and we thought we should get it tucked up in the shed for the night. It has to be reversed in, and although I’m a mean reverse parker of cars, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and handed over the controls.
I’m always interested in the history of things, and you can see from the photo that this is a Leyland make of tractor. We’ve got the original booklet for it, dated 1976! Leyland tractors were manufactured by a division of British Leyland, formed by a merger between Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings (thanks Wikipedia!) I’ve been delighted to find the Nuffield and Leyland Tractor Club online which has lots of info on these old tractors, of which there seem to be a fair few still in circulation. This model 245 Leyland was made in Bathgate, Scotland, and 5100 were transported to Australia between 1970 and 1980. There are some photos of the Bathgate production line on the Tractor Club website here, including one the same model as ours. We’re hoping to get many more years of service out of it! And maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to mow between our rows of olive trees. FFx