Well, the tractor ordeal of 2017 has been resolved! I put in about 5qt of coolant and 4qt of distilled water in the radiator, and cranked it up. To my delight, no horrific, untoward sounds @ startup.
After about 15 minutes to let it warm up, the coolant level dropped a bit, which meant the thermostat kicked in, so I topped it off. The temp gauge was running about midrange. I took a spotlight to check for leaks and everything looked good. I was worried about the water pump gasket, but it was fine.
So, I drove it over to the barn with no issues, and unhooked the disk that had been still attached since the shutdown. Tomorrow I’m hoping to get the bush hog hooked up and get in some much needed mowing. Hope it can handle that chore.
Don’t want to get too big-headed, but I’m happy I was able to pretty much do the work on my own, with a little bit of help from my brothers in law. Thanks also to this forum for your help and encouraging comments.