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AMY KIRK: A farm and ranch wife's secret weapon

  If farm and ranch women want their husband's help with a daunting project, the quickest and easiest way to get them involved is to creatively incorporate into the project his tractor, and a tractor attachment, if possible. I'm just guessing here, but I'm betting that nagging hasn't worked for other wives either.

Guys will perk up, listen to their wives, make suggestions and get involved in their wives' projects without realizing it if the word "tractor" and/or tractor attachments are overheard. This is vital information for a woman planning a project needing her tractor-loving husband's skills. I don't care who they are or how old they are, all farmers and ranchers are enamored with tractors: old, new, red, green, with a cab, without a cab, running, not running, toy or real. It does not matter.

Over the years, farm and ranch wives become desensitized to their husband's tractor love and fascination, but when it comes to getting big jobs done that call for man-skill intervention, wives need to be reminded that tractors are man/farmer/rancher candy. This can be useful leverage on large-scale honey-dos: Yard landscaping jobs, tall tree-pruning, gutter cleaning, building or barn painting, tree planting, compost pile moving and stirring or boulder hauling.

Big honey-do jobs can get done a lot quicker if a husband gets to use his tractor. Guys love opportunities to use these machines in as many different ways as possible. If a honey-do can be disguised as a job for a man-with-a-tractor using the PTO (power-take off) and three-point hitch, the chances of a husband getting involved greatly increases. When a wife's project means a new use for a tractor or attachment, her husband will practically do the whole job for her.

The trick is being creative in figuring out how to incorporate a woman's projects with something that pertains to tractors. Other motivational ideas that are likely to expedite the task would be to mention within earshot of her husband, renting equipment requiring the attachments that she knows he already has or describe the project's needs to someone in a way that will make the farmer or rancher think of using the tractor as though it was his idea.

Another husband-recruiting strategy is when a wife nonchalantly asks her hubs if he's going to be using the tractor that day, explaining she needs to use it (which of course, the project day has been planned so husband and tractor are available). He won't be able to resist asking why and if his wife has carefully thought her out response, he will likely be motivated to get involved because the use of his machinery is at stake. Trust me; he'll be on the project like mosquitoes on out-of-staters in Minnesota.

Men in ag are keen on new and unusual opportunities to use their tractor's features. Tractor guys love to see how their tractor will handle unconventional jobs that their machine wasn't designed for. The more unusual the job, the more he's going to want to try it to satisfy his curiosity. They can't resist attempting a job that tests their tractor's abilities.

So ladies, be confident and embrace your honey-do list -- without nagging. Those intimidating projects are attainable. Completing the honey-dos is just a tractor away. (But a little ego-stroking about your husband's tractor and his operator skills never hurts either.)