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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 could be great.


A dusty, tire tube sat lonely, awaiting recovery. We knew of its existence & couldn’t wait to revitalize it. I decided to team up with my partner in crime, brother Sid. When our minds could align, 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 sprung to life. We needed to mount the engine to the tube. Like most born & raised farm kids, we were determined to invent a revolutionary machine. Pulling scrap lumber out of the grass, we created a deck that resembled a raft. “Binder twine” held the boards together. Securing the engine to the deck was the challenge. Our ingenuity was fresh and full of ambition, we forged on.

The Prairie wind was calm. There were no white caps in the slough that day. Or a cloud in the sky, the sun was HOT. We headed to deep water. Bullrushes created a dense perimeter. The determination of young lads can move mountains. Pushing through the dense vegetation, with water up to our waists, the tube became-a-float.

Anticipating the deck would remain secure, we tied on the engine. The round tube, square deck & engine combo wasn’t quite well matched. The motor worked like a charm, our theory did not. Sid started spinning in a steady rotation, far from what we had imagined. The idea of Captaining our ship gloriously on the water, didn't happen.

Recovering Sid’s spinning frenzy, was awkward. The antelope, chewing away, looked up apologetically. Disgusted ducks flew up in a chorus of quacks. Swimming out to stabilize our invention proved impossible. Pirating a rogue raft requires skill. Our excitement was real. We were underwhelmed by our invention, though. The next prototype needed navigating adjustments and help from Dad, AKA "the farm Engineer." We turned the engine off. Dragging the raft to shore we hauled it back onto the quad, making it in home in time for supper.


Growing up on the farm slows time. Our lives brimmed with curiosity & exploration.