This letter could really begin, “Once Upon a Time,” because it seems like the enchanted story of the journey of a tractor through five generations of a family. Most of you know that the vineyards and winery began with my grandfather’s 1950 Ford 8N tractor, but John, our incredible winemaker, was the one who took this picture of my granddaughters sitting on the Ford 8N and said, “Do you realize they are sitting on their great-great grandfather’s tractor?” Wow! That tractor is still working our farm today….a bridge for the generations.
One of my earliest memories is of being bundled up by my grandmother and going out to the old barn where the Ford 8N lived. I was somewhere around three or four years old. In those days we lived on Clairmont Road in Atlanta, when it was a country road. My grandfather would be sitting on the black metal seat of the Ford 8N and my grandmother would set me on his knee. My grandfather would cradle his arm around my waist and nudge me safely back against him and off we’d go!
Peachtree Creek divided the farm into two parcels. My grandfather had built a sturdy wooden bridge over the creek which, even to my very young mind, I remember being about four inches shorter in width than the span of the back tires on the tractor…but, they are big tires and had enough excess to hang off the edge a bit. Peachtree Creek would frequently flood and the water level would rise to or above the little bridge making it difficult to see the bridge clearly, but that didn’t stop us, across the bridge we went… we never fell in. The second picture to the right is the Ford 8N in its glory days with a flooding Peachtree Creek behind it.
My mother was a teenager by the time the Ford 8N became a member of the family. I know she worked with my grandfather on the farm, but I don’t have any stories of her and the Ford 8N. She was the second generation in the Ford 8N’s journey.
By the time I was 9 we had made our way to Alpharetta and the Ford 8N came along. Although his farm was by far smaller now, that Ford 8N was still the master of my grandfather’s property. I grew up and had children of my own. I would bundle them up and take them out to the new barn where the Ford 8N lived. I would set them on their great-grandfather’s knee, he would wrap his arm around their waist, nudge them back safely into him and off they went!
For the last 25 years the Ford 8N has been the master of The Farm at Pamelot and now Painted Horse Vineyards. My grandchildren, the fifth generation in the journey of the Ford 8N, sit on my knee, I wrap my arm around their waist, nudge them safely back into me and off we go! The fourth picture to the right is of the Ford 8N, me and my grandson Mac. This is where the vineyards and winery began…we are plowing the field where the grapes now grow.
This year the Ford 8N turned 70 years old. It still works hard and welcomes all the children that visit the farm to climb on! It occurs to me that after five generation the Ford 8N, that is truly a family member, should have a name. It’s rather serendipitous that our family surname is Ford, though not that Ford family. My grandfather was Edward Ford and I am Pamela Ford. By the family, my grandfather was called Fordy all his life. I think that is a most appropriate name for the Ford 8N tractor…Fordy. Together the two Fordys began this journey that has bridged the generations.