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  • ~Jenn

Sid & Barnes

What has been done well, at some point has also been done terribly. Finding your way on a “Prairie Slough,” aboard a motorized tractor tube; had potential to be great.


A dusty, tire tube sat lonely, awaiting discovery. We knew it was there & couldn’t wait to spring it to life. I decided to team up with brother Sid. When we could agree, we were epic.

Sid had a 5 horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine. I had a free afternoon. Using an air compressor, the lifeless, donut-shaped tire tube took form. We needed to mount the engine to the tube. Like most born & raised farm kids, we were determined to invent a "crafty" machine. Pulling scrap lumber out of the grass, we created a deck for our raft. Binder twine held everything together. Securing the engine to the deck was a feat. Our ingenuity was fresh and full of ambition, so we forged on.


The Prairie wind was calm. No white caps plagued the slough that day. Not even a cloud was in the sky, but it sure was HOT. We headed to deep water. Bullrushes surrounded us. Determination can move mountains. Pushing through the mess of vegetation, with water up to our waists, the tube became-a-float.

The round tube, square deck & engine combo wasn’t ideal. The motor worked like a charm, our theory did not. Sid started spinning, far from what we had anticipated. We had no luck steering the ship.


Trying to recover Sid’s spinning frenzy, was awkward. The antelope looked up apologetically. Disgusted ducks flew up in a chorus of quacks. Swimming out to stabilize the raft was impossible. Pirating a rogue raft requires finesse. Our excitement was real. We were underwhelmed by our invention, though. The next prototype needed navigating help from Dad, AKA "the farm Engineer." We flipped the engine off and dragged the raft back onto shore. And headed home for supper.


Growing up on the farm slows time. Our lives brimmed with curiosity & exploration. The raft didn't work very good. But it was sure fun giving it a go.