Friday, May 1, 2015

Tractor Woes

      I guess I’ve turned into a real farm girl, because I’m lost without my tractor.
I missed the first fertilizing of my rye pasture in February due to icy weather and a dead battery. My buddy Calvin charged up the battery, replaced a worn front tire and the gas filter and changed the oil while I was in Texas in mid-March. 
When I reurned from Texas, I was so excited (at my age, it doesn’t take much) to have the tractor working again. But while dumping the leaves into the woods, I got a little too far down the embankment. The ground was still wet from recent rains, and I spun myself into a hole trying to back up. I couldn't go forward because a small tree was in the way.
And there the tractor sat for a few more days. Enlisting the help of the two young guy friends, I had one cut down the tree. He swore he could lay it down wherever he wanted. What we hadn't counted on, however, was what the tree fairies wanted. As the tree fell, it grabbed the branches of another tree, and clung there for dear life. Again, I got off, and left the tractor where it was while I pondered the current situation.
Too (sic) Old Men right the tractor.
A few days later, the guys and I tied a rope to the tree and my bucket, then I hoisted and pushed the tree out of my way. But as I tried to move forward, my tractor got hung up on the tree stump. Brilliantly, I used the bucket to push myself off the stump. My relief at moving forward was short lived, however, because I was on a horizontal slope, and began to list perilously to starboard. I elected to get off, fearing I’d tump (that’s Southerneze for fall) over.
That weekend, my grands were over, when Gabe announced, "NaNa, the tractor tire blew out and it's off the wheel."  It sat there a couple more weeks while I waited for Calvin’s help. But he was set for a knee replacement, and despite his misplaced notion of getting up and around in a few days, he had eight weeks of recuperation ahead of him.
The following week, I got my truck stuck in front of my house. With Calvin disabled, I called my friends Fred and Rudy (better known as Too Old Men).  As they pulled the truck out of the muddy rut, a lightbulb went off in my head. I asked them to take a look at the tractor. Using a come-along, chains and a rope, they righted it  enough to get the weight off the dead tire, then pumped air into it. It popped back into place on its rim, just as they had planned. Only a farmer would understand my elation at seeing Fred drive it out of the woods.
Three days later, after buying fertilizer for my pasture, I discovered that the tire was coming off the rim again. So I pumped air into it, manhandled the first six 50-pound bags of Triple 13 into the spreader and took off. With each pass, I prayed the tire would hold, and it did. But the tire ordeal didn't end there. 
That was last Thrusday. On Tuesday of this week, it was flat again. Too Old Men spent four hours trying to find the leak, with no luck. Calvin says dirt around the rim might have kept it from sealing, and that the latest air fill might seal it properly. 
Today is Friday, and so far so good. I’ve got more fertilziing to do next week, then I’ve got to switch the spreader for the rotary cutter.
     A woman on her tractor is a beautiful thing, as long as the tractor is working.

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