In 1958, a John Deere tractor's engine produced a distinctive "pop" and stutter constantly. It was running fine, but sounded as if it would sputter and die with the next gasp. My father and his brother who farmed together always used Farmall tractors from International Harvester, and I liked the confidence of the consistent roar of their engines. Both of those distinctive sounds now reside with the memories of my childhood, growing up on a cotton farm in North Louisiana.
An I-H tractor is a rare sighting these days with Kubota, Husqvarna, Massey Ferguson, Troy-built, and others enjoying higher visibility. The green machines of John Deere are still around and enjoy perhaps their greatest popularity ever. Several years ago, I needed something green for a St. Patrick's Day parade, so I went to the John Deere dealership in Winnsboro, LA, and purchased a green John Deere cap. It has a special place in my closet, and I dig it out and wear it every March 17, with a couple of shamrocks attached.
There's a coupon on my desk waiting to be used. It will get me a free John Deere cap. The coupon came with my new John Deere LA 175 lawn mower. It's a great piece of machinery built in Greeneville, Tennessee. It isn't a full sized tractor, but it has that famous John Deere reputation and a fifty-four inch cutting deck that really comes in handy on our two-acre farm.
I first heard this essay on The Onion Radio several years ago. "It was last week that I had withdrawn a hefty sum from my pension account and made haste to the Eastgate Plaza Lawn & Garden Place to pick out the finest riding mower known to man—the John Deere Lawn Rebel, featuring high-impact Euro-style wheels and nine-position fingertip height adjusters. I climbed right onto the patented Comfort Cushion(TM) seat and grabbed hold of the deluxe, seven-speed gear shift, and drove her right out of the store and down Grant Avenue toward home, waving to everyone I saw." — Joseph Marty, from The Onion. Ever since, I've looked far and wide for a JD "Lawn Rebel" and, after years of searching, have come to the conclusion that it doesn't exist.
So, for me and my money, the LA 175 will have to do.
We live in the mountains of Western North Carolina near the base of Cold Mountain, about fifteen miles from the nearest Lowes. It just wasn't practical to drive my new LA 175 home from their store. It was a red letter day when the delivery truck pulled up in front of our recently restored 92 year old farm house. I even took a personal day off from work! The two delivery men slowly rolled the Green Monster onto the Tommy Lift and eased it down onto my driveway. Oh man! What a deal! Filled with anticipation and excitement, I carefully climbed into the gold "Comfort Cushion" seat — it was better than a Barcalounger! After adjusting the choke and depressing the brake, I gave the key a turn. Bam! First try, the Lawn Rebel roars to life.
Aaaaahhh, what an awesome sound! I drove my baby from the driveway into some grass that had been waiting for the arrival of the Deere, dried by the morning sun, and waiting to sacrifice it's overly long blades to the 54" wide tornado inside the mower deck. With a firm grasp on the "Attachment Engagement Switch," I unleashed the fury of the three factory-sharpened mower blades, the likes of which this ancient lawn had never seen! Any one of these three fearsome slicers would put the steel of a samurai's sword to shame.
Even though we live in the mountains, our two acres have enough near-level land that numerous long straight runs are required, especially in the back yard. Just the right place to try out the Lawn Rebel's cruise control. I love this feature on my pick-up truck and couldn't wait to try it with my new John Deere. Another WOW!! I settled back in my comfortable lounger, pointed the front of the mower in the right direction, set the cruise control, and enjoyed the ride. And what a ride it was! The extra large Carlisle Turf-Saver tires and the famous "twin I-beam" suspension made the ride comfortable, even over the "washboard" area near the rocks next to the mountain stream behind our house. I'm sure I'll enjoy many hours of pleasurable lawn maintenance with this great investment.