Shredding and Other Accomplishments

Tammy Brown


My hands still tingle from clutching the steering wheel.  I’m itchy, dusty, sweaty, and smiling.  I just shut down the shiny orange tractor and surveyed my work, and I feel proud.


Tractors are loud, powerful and a little bit dangerous.  I just spent an hour on our Kioti, shredding over fields and driveways, listening to the roar, feeling the bumps, and loving the rush of power and accomplishment this simple task brings.  Why is driving a tractor such a big deal to me?  Because it tells me that I have overcome fears and limitations that I have lived with all my life.


What Limitations?

Cultural.  I grew up in East Texas in the 60’s and 70’s.  I observed that women’s power lay not as much in their own strength and ability as in the skill  of enlisting the care and attention of men.  Remember Scarlett O’Hara?  I read Gone with the Wind the summer I was 10, and the lessons weren’t lost on me.  If you can’t quite imagine what this looked looked like for my generation, try to get your hands on a copy of The Fascinating Girl or Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Berry Andelin.

Familial.  The gender roles in my family were well defined.  Overt power was vested in the men.  My father and brother hunted and travelled, drove fast, and earned money.  They had knives and guns, boats and jeeps.  The men would disappear for a week or more and come back unshaven, with a bounty of deer, dove or trophy sailfish.  When they were gone Mom and I locked the doors, ate cereal and Colonel Sanders’, and took slow evening drives to see what was blooming in our neighbors’ yards.  I loved those days with my Mom, but I acquired the sense that big machines and wild nature belonged in the masculine world.

Personal.  I was always fearful.  The story is that I was proud of jumping off the Sear’s catalog at age 2 ( about 3 inches).  Reportedly, I worked up to that brave act for weeks.  It may have been another year before I jumped off the bottom step, and another year before I climbed the whole flight upright instead of scooting backwards on my ruffled butt one stair at a time.  One of my earliest memories is clutching the stair rail above me, and slowly ascending on my own two feet.  I approached the top third of the stairs with great pride, only to be scooped up by a male friend of my sister’s and carried kicking and screaming the rest of the way.  He only meant to help, but I was crushed.



Back to the present

At this point in my life, I can confidently say that I am a strong woman.  The past and its lessons are a living part of me, but I operate from a different understanding of what it means to be a woman. Fearfulness is still there, but I know better when to listen to it and when to push through to accomplish my goals.   Embracing my own personal power, has allowed me to do more significant things than shredding a field, such as  rearing three amazing children and building a successful career. And one thing I learned from the same culture that taught women to disown some of their strength is how to live through loss and adversity and thrive.  (Thanks, Mom and Sis.)

Still, operating that tractor this morning with a little bit of fear and a  whole lot of gratification gave me the same kind of joyful satisfaction that I must have felt the day I finally arrived at the second floor all by myself.





  1. I enjoyed the read. Kudos to you and your Kyoti!! The photo with the enormous puffy white clouds and nicely mowed field is absolutely gorgeous.

  2. Hi Tammy, What happened to those long curls? When I missed Lisa, the first place I checked was the Fuller’s. You
    seem to be enjoying life in the country. Lisa has two girls, one Tennessee Walking Horse and two dogs. She retired from teaching and we talk often about the years at Country Club Forest. You look happy and seeing you and other old friends is the best thing about Facebook.

    1. It’s delightful to hear from you, Jeannine, and to hear about Lisa’s life. Thanks for reading and commenting. Our land in Bastrop looks a lot Conroe, and brings back happy memories of playing outside with Lisa. I’m glad you are well!

  3. Wonderful post! I can so relate to your description of “farm women”. My family were dairy farmers and I always felt I had so much to live up to. I swear my Aunt could have a baby and bake a pie while driving tractor AND sorting laundry! LOL. It took me a lot of years to get over feeling guilty and “lazy” if I took some time for myself. I love my family. We have amazing strong women too. You go girl! From jumping off the Sears catalogue to thatching your fields and yard! Life is an amazing adventure! Thanks for sharing. And by the way, you were a darling little girl, and a are a lovely woman.

    1. Linda, Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts. I thought of you earlier this month when we were in Oregon in a very mossy, magical wood. Life is indeed an amazing adventure!