Farm Girl Vintage Sew Along: A Tractor for Dad

I can’t believe how quickly the summer has gone, and now we are well into the first week of August. I hope your summer months brought you good times with family and friends . . . and your sewing machine. 😉

We are now on Week 15 of the Farm Girl Vintage Sew Along led by Lori Holt of Bee In My Bonnet.  The last time I posted an update was on Friday, June 19 when we had just completed Week 8.  This sew along continues to be a blessing to me.  I’ve learned new techniques, created fresh and fun blocks, and enjoyed the process of pulling from my scrap piles. I look forward to it each week.  It\’s never to late for you to join!  The Farm Girl Vintage book is published by It\’s Sew Emma, a division of Fat Quarter Shop. 

Working from this book and thinking about the blocks and their farm-related names has also caused me to reminisce about my childhood on the farm.  (I shared some of those memories in my June 5 post.) From the first evening that I began turning the pages of Lori’s book, I have been drawn to the tractor quilt.  It reminded me of the small Ford tractor (ours was blue) that we would use to pick rocks in the springtime.  It also brought to mind the bigger red IH tractors that I remember my dad driving when I was little, several years before his tractors became big, green, and fancy.  And I wished I could make this tractor quilt for my dad, but it seemed too late.  My dad has Alzheimer’s.

My dad was officially diagnosed with having some form of Dementia in 2011.  It was labeled Alzheimer’s last year.  During that time, my mom has been the primary caregiver and the two of them soldiered on . . . doing their best, making their days count, treasuring as many moments as they could.  But in the spring of this year, Dad’s disease progressed to the point that he had to move into a memory care unit.  All of Dad’s physical and therapeutic needs are now being handled by caring professionals, and Mom can focus on being his wife and his friend.  She spends time with him daily.

Dad has a very nice room, decorated with pictures of family.  Whenever I visit, I look around and feel somewhat comforted by the fact that his surroundings are pleasant.  It seems peaceful.  Although Dad rarely talks anymore, once or twice he has said to Mom that he sure is in a nice hotel, or on another occasion, a nice hospital.  It’s comforting to us to know he has those thoughts.  You take comfort in very small things.

Several times this summer, my thoughts came back to that tractor quilt and if I should make a small wall hanging for Dad’s room.  Would he find comfort in that?  Or would it be just about me, doing something for him so that I felt better about this situation?  I didn’t want it to be about me, so I kept putting it off.

And then one evening, it came to me.  It seemed like one of those moments where God puts a thought in your head and you are finally quiet enough to hear it.

Back in the spring when everything changed for Dad, I was present with Mom during a hospital evaluation done by an Occupational Therapist. The interview/question session lasted about 25 minutes.  Many of the questions were simple.  Some of them required complex reasoning or problem solving.  Dad scored very poorly.  I remember the heavy feeling in my heart as we listened to Dad do his best to answer her questions with confidence. 

“What year is it?”   1968
“What month is it?”  October
“What time does it say on the clock?”  Another wrong answer
It went on like this for quite a while, with Mom and I looking across the room at each other, feeling hopeless.  

But then about halfway through the interview she asked, “What was your profession, Lee?  What did you do for a living before you retired?”  Farmer

Alzheimer’s has robbed my dad of many things, but he still remembers family, that his wife is “the love of his life,” and that he was a farmer.

So I made that tractor wall hanging for my dad, and my LAQ Barb at Quilts on Broadway put it on her machine and turned it back to me within a business day, bless her heart.  I was able to give that to my dad this past weekend, when we celebrated his 70th birthday by taking him to his cabin and spending a day in the sunshine surrounded by family. When he opened his gift, my mom said, “Well . . . look what Taunja made you.”  Dad looked at the tractor, found me with his eyes, and quietly said, “Thank you.”  A very small sentence, but we take comfort in those small things.  When we took Dad back to his room that evening, he was so tired he settled right into bed.  Mom and I hung the tractor where he can see it.  I hope when he looks at it, it takes his mind to farming and his own childhood, and those long-term memories he seems better able to hold on to.

Thank you for reading and allowing me to share what is on my heart.  I hope my post didn\’t make you blue.  I will end with some cheerful images of my Farm Girl Vintage blocks to date.   Here’s hoping you get carried away quilting often!


Week 9: Feed & Seed Block, Fresh Pears Block


Week 10: Furrows Block, Gingham Block


Week 11: Haystack Block, Grandma\’s Quilt Block


Week 12: Kettle\’s On Block, Kitchen Window Block


Week 13: Mama Hen Block, Milking Day Block


Week 14: Old Glory Block,  Old Red Barn Block


Week 15: Out to Pasture Block, Patchwork Pumpkin Block


Progress through Week 15

Brag alert . . . I really LOVE how these all look together.  Farm girl, woo hoo!

3 thoughts on “Farm Girl Vintage Sew Along: A Tractor for Dad

  1. I absolutely love this. I grew up on a farm and both of my parents were actually recently diagnosed with dementia. I have been really lost and was not sure how to handle everything. I think I am just going to take it from the perspective that you have had and bring their past back to he present for communication.Heidi Sutton @ Ag Source Magazine

  2. Oh Heidi. I am so sorry to hear that! My heart goes out to you as I know the tough road ahead that you have. I'm sure lots of people have different ways to cope and handle this new sad reality in the family life. My dad as I knew him isn't really here anymore, but my dad is still here. Does that make sense? It comes down to the most basic terms eventually. There is a person that may not know who you are, or may not be able to communicate with you, but they need your love. And that's about all we can do. I wish you the best and also want to remind you that it's okay to take time for yourself and take breaks from the care giving, etc. Take care!! Please keep in touch if you'd like!

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