Rebecca Sonniksen 

Grandpa Allan’s buckwagon has a home now with us in High Prairie, along with his 1939 International Harvester Farmall F-20 tractor, remembered by my sister and me from when we’d visit our grandparents in their south Idaho farm. 

When our grandparents died in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s and the family farm was sold, the tractor and the wagon went to my Uncle Bob’s farm in Moses Lake, Washington. For over 50 years they resided in his barnyard alongside a lineup of old, faded pickup trucks – some without wheels and seats missing; a 1952 John Deere tractor; a sun-baked combine; a 1950’s Plymouth truck; and his ATV. 

When Uncle Bob passed 8 years ago, my husband, Scott, and I had decided to retire here and now had the perfect place for these two very large pieces of history. It did take some heavy lifting to trailer the nearly 5,000 pound tractor from Moses Lake to our home in High Prairie, and arrange to have the wagon soon to follow. 

We’re grateful we were able to rescue Grandpa’s tractor and wagon from an uncertain fate on the auction block or, worse yet, serving as a planter for geraniums outside Don’s Steakhouse. Every day I look down from our living room window at the tractor resting under the sprawling oak or walk up the driveway to the pole barn to glimpse the doe and her fawn snuggled under the wagon. 

As we made one last walk around that hot and dusty farmyard soil past the rusty oil cans and broken farm equipment, I saw what I had almost missed – the horseshoes hanging on the outside of the barn. One, based on it’s size, surely belonged to one of my Grandpa’s magnificent Percheron draft horses, Shotgun. I have it hanging above the door to our pole barn. 

I’m reminded by these markers of time, and holders of family stories, that we are always part of who we once were. And they inspired the following poems: 

Grandpa Allan’s Buckboard Wagon 

Time suspends the clatter of steel wheels 
over frozen ground. Harness up the Gray team, 
Percherons’ steamy breaths cloud the Idaho morning air. 

Towser’s tail wagging, ready to bound at command 
over the sideboards next to you. 
Slack the lines. 
Time for Grandma Blanche to open the gates. 

So the story goes-Grandpa Allan’s buckwagon 
so much more exciting then- now resting 
in our Washington pole barn- next to the Kubota tractor 
in need of a recharge..

My Grandpa Allan’s Tractor 

Grandpa Allan’s 1939 International Harvester Farmall F-20 tractor 
rests under the sprawling oak I see from my office window. 

Grandpa’s left- to check the barn for the missing part. 
While he’s gone, winter snow drifts, grooving 
hard rubber wheels rooted into the ground. 

Summer sun scuffs, peels and polishes 
redness to a bronze patina. Where sparks flew 
squirrels nest and wasps congregate in the dented grill. 

Maybe he’s left for the pasture to check on the gray team; 
Sneezer and Shotgun, his Percheron draft horses, 
no longer needed since he tied the lines to the front of the wagon. 

The Harvester Farmall, so efficient. 
Life is easy now- it would seem. 
Its combustion engine obscuring distractions. 
Hard to daydream or hear the song of the meadowlark. 

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