1976 Mercedes Benz Unimog Belgian Troop Carrier. Credit: Julia Bayly

Any homesteader or farmer who works their land with a significant other knows the importance of shared values and passions. For an operation to be successful, you both need to value the land, possess some common goals and possess the complementary skills to keep everything running smoothly.

Any couple who works their own land will also tell you it’s not unusual to also have some totally divergent interests and passions that, from the outside looking in, would seem to put you at odds.

Well, I’m here to tell you that yes, those shared interests and skills are helpful, but it’s the ones that are at odds with each other that really make life on the farm interesting. It certainly did here on Rusty Metal Farm.

Take tractors, for example. While I am a huge fan of the vintage models now, that was not always so. Early on in my life on the farm, tractors and everything about them were up to my late husband. My own involvement was pretty much limited to running to town for parts or passing him requested tools as he worked on a balky engine.

I loved him, and I loved the fact that tractors made him so happy. I just did not get the attraction.

It was the same situation in reverse with bicycles and all things cycling. Patrick was overjoyed I had found a pastime that gave me so much pleasure, and from time to time he’d join me on short rides. But the man never would have been caught dead outfitted in one of the standard padded shorts and colorful cycling jersey outfits — or “kits,” as a true cyclist class them — that I pedaled around in. As far as I know, spandex never touched that man’s skin.

But every so often we were each drawn farther into the other’s world than we would have liked.

Like the time Patrick convinced me it would be super fun to go with him to a vintage tractor show up in Quebec. Gosh — a trip that would involve conversing in two languages I did not speak that well: French and machinery. But he sweetened the deal by saying we could toss my bike in the car and I could ride the trails in that area while he wandered the tractor show.

Once there, it was obvious he wanted me to stay with him as he was sure this would be the day my love for tractors would emerge. I did and it didn’t. But, I have to say it was a joy to watch Patrick almost run from vintage machine to vintage machine.

Then there was the time we were driving back from a trip to Manitoba and Patrick discovered there was a massive, privately owned museum chock full of every piece of antique farm implement and machine you could possibly imagine. And it was right along our travel route.

How could I say no when he asked if I minded if we stopped? Oh, and did I mention I was in the early stages of quite possibly the worst case of food poisoning on the face of the planet?

We stopped and spent the next several hours with the collections’ owner going from one metal Quonset full of large, vintage machines to another. The more we walked, the more nauseous I became.

At the final Quonset, to wrap up the visit the nice owner kindly offered to fire up some sort of ancient, diesel-powered thing because he had restored it to mint condition and was anxious to show it off.

Standing there in a haze of diesel smoke and listening to the cacophony of sounds emanating from the machine I worked valiantly to convince the contents of my stomach to stay put. This, I thought to myself, is what hell will be like.

Now, before you think ill of my late husband, I had not let on how sick I was and if I had, he would have immediately cut the visit short and done all he could to see to my comfort and well being.

The only mechanical thing Patrick loved more than tractors was his 1976 Mercedes Unimog Begian Troop Carrier. It was a massive beast capable of traversing pretty much any road or off-road condition you took it over. And, oh how Patrick loved testing it out.

As for me, while I again loved the fact he loved it, I did not share that passion. Heck, I couldn’t even shift the thing out of second gear. But it was fun to see the sheer rapture on Patrick’s face as he drove it. Right up until the time we were driving it in one of our fields quite a distance from the house and it ran out of gas, late in the day as it was growing dark.

On the walk home I turned to him and said, “You know, you didn’t have to run out of gas, I’m a pretty sure thing.” We laughed all the way back.

For his part, Patrick was the best support system ever for my cycling adventures: Part driver, part pit crew and part cheering squad. He would drive me to a new trail, change a flat bicycle tire if needed and then take me out for a burger and beer at the end of my ride and even listen to my rather detailed descriptions of every inch of that ride.

And remember that tractor show in Quebec? On the drive home, we chose a route that included miles of lonely dirt road. At one point I decided to hop out and ride several miles to an agreed-upon meeting point where Patrick would be waiting for me.

Unfortunately, about a mile in I realized I had managed to choose the hilliest section of the route. But not to worry, at the base of every single hill, there was Patrick parked and waiting in case I needed a ride to the top.

And, in looking at it, that’s really what life on a farm or homestead is all about. When you don’t share a certain passion there may be times you are waiting at the bottom of a hill to see if your partner needs a lift up.

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.