I saw the bright green sweatshirt hanging in a vendor’s booth at a Midwestern flea market in the midst of a large city. I would have easily passed it by, save for its one, small adornment. The black , yellow, green, and white Badger Northland farm equipment logo drew me close, like a moth to the flame.
Into the booth I went, in search of a price tag. I examined the sweatshirt, but it was tagless, it’s price unknown. Not one to haggle, I walked away. I was content just to have seen the little Badger. That’s what I told myself, but my husband wasn’t buying my bravado. He went back to the booth and asked the vendor for the price. When the vendor said $12, my husband countered, “Would you take $10?” The vendor would and did, and my husband bought the sweatshirt for me. I must say, I was pleased, for I have a history with the Badger.
Fifty years or so ago, my Dad was a dealer for Badger Northland farm equipment. He used to buy, assemble, and sell big machinery like forage wagons, as well as smaller equipment and miscellaneous parts. The Badger logo was emblazoned on equipment and metal signs on our farm, as well as on assorted swag, such as outdoor thermometers and clothing. Evidently the Badger also is embedded in my brain, a reminder of my rural upbringing.
I am 35 years removed from my family’s farm. During my youth I was a “good enough” farm worker at best; I knew I would never be a farmer. I knew I would leave the farm. But in these passing years it has become clear that the farm has never left me. Farm and family and memory remain intricately intertwined. My little Badger is an icon, a sacred image I wear like a scapular. It is an outward sign of my inner faith, a tribute to my father, my family, and our farm.
The sweatshirt is a solidly ’70s fashion fantastic of acrylic, nylon, and pure, laminated urethane. When I wear it I pray that no one lights a match in my vicinity. But wear it I do — because of the Badger.