By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
CAREY — Caleb Putnam is a fan of the color green, especially if it comes in the form of a John Deere tractor.
The Carey boy, who turns 10 this month, is a third-grader at Our Lady of Consolation School. He has a wardrobe of T-shirts that feature the John Deere logo, along with a massive collection of toy tractors — green, of course.
Caleb also wrote a story that was published in March’s Little Green magazine, a publication for young people about all things John Deere. His article, called “Harvesting Corn with Grandpa,” is a two-page spread that includes photos of himself with his grandfather, Charles Brodman of Carey.
“He idealizes his grandpa as a farmer,” said Caleb’s dad, Aaron Putnam. “From an early age, he was riding in the tractors. Grandpa would always take him for a tractor ride and in the grain truck.”
Brodman, who raises beans, corn, wheat and hay, has been farming since he was 5, said Caleb.
“My grandpa’s dad gave him a Ford tractor and a cultivator, and then he cultivated the corn every day after school,” Caleb explained. “He had a John Deere, but it was bigger. And my grandpa said his dad used that one a lot, so he just gave him (grandpa) his Ford.”
Caleb has a strong interest in farming as a result, his parents said. He started making books about tractors and farming as early as kindergarten, drawing crayon pictures on pieces of construction paper.
In first grade, when Caleb was given an assignment to write a book for the Young Authors program, he wrote a story called “John Deere 9220,” focusing on his grandfather’s tractor of the same model.
Caleb wrote that you have to climb five steps to get into the cab of the tractor where there are two seats, one for the farmer and one for the “little farmer.” The vehicle is big, he said, with a wheelbase of 137.8 inches. “You could take a nap inside the wheel,” he wrote.
After the contest, Caleb’s mom, Heidi Putnam, saw a notice in the John Deere magazine for adults, called Green Magazine, looking for articles for its youth counterpart. She submitted Caleb’s story, which appeared in the spring 2017 publication.
The writing bug struck again last year when Caleb was in second grade. This time, he decided to tell the story of harvesting corn with his grandpa in the model 9600 John Deere combine.
In the article, he tells how the stalks get snapped off and are then pushed into the combine, which separates the corn from the cob and the husk. The corn is collected in a grain tank, and the chaff is pushed out the back of the combine. When the grain tank is full, the tank is emptied into a truck and the corn is taken to the elevator, the story details.
It took Caleb about a week to write the story. His mom took the accompanying pictures.
Caleb said it was exciting to see his story in print, and he took a copy of the magazine to school to show his teacher and friends. He also earned a paycheck for each story, which he put in the bank to someday buy his first “real” tractor.
Caleb said he’s not sure if he’ll be writing any more stories for now. He said he’ll be busy this summer helping on the farm, raising chickens for his 4-H project and swimming.