Belarus Plastic Surgery

Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

A cowboy has his horse, a biker has his motorcycle, a trucker has his semi and I have my Russian-made Belarus tractor. I really like my little tractor and it’s served me loyally both in the cold of Winter and the mosquitoes of Summer. The first cutting of alfalfa really showed the old girl needed a little TLC and so like the cowboy might call the vet for his ailing horse, my tractor went in for a little help last week.

I mentioned it’s a Russian-made tractor for a reason. The Belarus has been the subject of jokes created by those who will only drive something in a John Deere green-among others. The truth is that if you look at my tractor you could guess from the tiny hand grips and massive seat that the Russians are a little-well let’s just say disproportionate. Now if you quit looking and go for a ride, you’ll find a gutsy, powerful little tractor that cost me about the same as a brand-new loader without a grapple might It’s a good little tractor for the money-I’ll quit before I sound like that salesman who won’t leave you alone.

I hired a neighbor to haul my tractor up to the dealership in Hallock, MN. I had the hair-raising job of driving the tractor onto the trailer. Visions appeared of the tractor going over the side and landing squarely on me-it’s most ardent admirer. I called the service manager with a list of repairs. Considering how relaxed and mellow I am I can certainly be uptight sometimes-as evidenced by my extensive list. It consisted of everything from a new hydraulic pump, a different exhaust stack and even "going through" the front and rear ends. That request must strike fear into most mechanics. It’s so vague and could mean anything from tearing everything apart and running a micrometer over the gears to what it means to me-which is simply to eyeball closely and put a little new paint on it.

My tractor is well on the way to health when I last checked with the dealership. The service manager said they "couldn’t find" my tractor at first. He then explained that after spending a few hours ($50/HR X 2) power washing the grime from my little ride they did actually strike tractor. I was happy to find a service manager with a sense of humor which I’m sure he’ll use skillfully when he presents me with the bill. Actually, someone who knows first aid and CPR would probably be more useful when I get the final tally.

All kidding aside, I am very excited to get my tractor back from plastic surgery. My greatest hopes are that the power steering will work, the batteries will charge and the rear axle won’t "clunk." The truth is that what I expect and what I will accept are worlds apart. You see, when you come to love something from behind the former Iron Curtain you come to accept the little shortcomings. Besides, with everything considered, I could never find a tractor with a better seat.