Don’t bother lookin’ if this tractor’s cookin’….

The folks at the John Deere Research Lab are onto something that may revolutionize agriculture, warfare and, possibly, rural commuting.

According to a recent Associated Press report, the 168-year-old farm machinery concern has joined forces with researchers at Southern Illinois University to build a state-of-the-art stealth tractor.

Constructed from the same high tech composite material that’s used to make lightweight, hard-to-detect stealth warplanes for the armed services, the experimental tractors are being designed as a possible alternative to traditional steel and aluminum models.

Researchers say they’re not trying to develop a new military vehicle. They’re just looking for a lighter, cheaper and more durable piece of equipment to keep America’s lawns and fields under control. And that’s certainly a noble pursuit – noble but doomed. Take it from me, amigos, none of those puppies will ever see an Iowa corn field…

As soon as the Pentagon gets wind of this plucky little agricultural project and sees the military potential for stealth tractors, sinister black helicopters will come swooping down and spirit them off to a remote, top secret compound faster than you can say “Golllll…”

Let’s be realistic about this – stealth tractors might be somewhat useful on Uncle Zeb’s okra plantation, but they’d be superb for sneaking up on the skulking enemies of democracy and striking a resounding blow for freedom.

Even the least knowledgeable of strategists will tell you that military forces invariably go on the alert when they become aware of tanks racing across the border. Naval authorities are equally suspicious of unidentified destroyers prowling the harbor. And most governments are understandably wary of F-16s darting about the imperial palace.

But nobody expects trouble when they see a humble farm tractor or two rolling down the road in a cloud of dust piloted by grinning, gap-toothed guys in straw hats and tattered overalls.

(“Relax, they’re probably just here for the vodka harvest…”)

No matter where you’re from, it’s hard to suspect a red-faced guy in a checkered shirt who gives you a big “Howdy, neighbor!” as he rolls past, blithely spitting a stream of tobacco juice into the wind.

Admittedly, most farmers don’t hunt prairie dogs with light anti-tank weapons and M-16s, but by the time our slow-thinking enemies figure that out, we’ll have them surrounded.

The advent of the stealth tractor will prove, once and for all, that the steadfast military-industrial complex, so derided in the ’60s and ’70s, is still working hard for America.

And, by its very nature, the stealth tractor should be easily adaptable to peacetime applications. Once our citizen-soldier-farmers have defeated the minions of whatever godless dictatorship we’re fighting, they can bond with the common man, tilling the fields, trimming the golf course, planting acres of corn and lima beans for as far as the eye can see.

Succotash for everyone!

Hey, if this isn’t a win-win situation, I don’t know what is…

Originally published April 2, 2000