The following is excerpted from the new anthology, Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers' Movement, which was edited by Zoe Ida Bradbury, Paula Manalo, and Severine von Tscharner Fleming.
I didn’t notice the marks on the John Deere until I’d had the tractor for maybe a month. A couple of spots of brown, corroded metal etched into the green enamel on the top surface of the right fender. No big deal -- a decades-old tractor should have all sorts of dents and dings if it’s been used for anything worthwhile -- but the placement of these marks was interesting. Again and again, the times I noticed the marks was when I turned around to see the row behind me and placed my hand exactly upon them, the base of my palm on the larger spot, the tips of my fingers on the smaller. I can’t remember the moment now, but at some point while driving the length of one or another 300-foot row I finally got it: The marks were made by the hand of the previous owner. Every time he’d turned around to check his depth or adjust his steering or see the work he’d accomplished, he’d placed his palm on this same section of fender -- an unconscious action that he must have repeated several hundred thousand times -- and gradually his sweat had eaten through the paint and begun to corrode the metal.