The Tractor

One would think that after almost eight years of sharing intimate moments we would be friends.
We are closer to reaching mutual understanding, but it is apparent there will always be an undercurrent of mistrust and acrimony in our relationship.
Neither one of us is much to look at.
The old faded-red Massey Ferguson tractor has more than a few dings, and at 71 years old so do I.
When I climb onto the driver’s seat, I can almost hear the tractor say with disdain, “Rookie.”
It’s an apt description since I spent my working career in offices far removed from plowing fields.
We met when my wife and I bought Roaring Creek Farm. I had zero tractor experience.
I began learning by doing, and I quickly learned the tractor could kill me, especially when using the Bush Hog to mow the side of a hill in one of our pastures.
Ah, the Bush Hog. It too has its moments.
The first challenge is attaching the Bush Hog to the Power Take-Off shaft, which transfers the mechanical power from the tractor to the mower.
If this sounds like I’m smart, I had to Google it.
But let’s back up. The first challenge is lining up the side arms of the tractor’s three-point hitch to attach them to the mower.
This is a precise operation. There is nothing precise about my Massey Ferguson.
That finally accomplished it’s time to join the mower to the PTO shaft. The shaft on the mower should slide out to allow the coupler to reach the PTO.
Did I mention the Bush Hog is also old and cantankerous?
The shaft is heavy and doesn’t exactly slide with ease. More than once after finally accomplishing the tedious task of attaching the side arms to the mower, I’ve found the shaft impossible to break free.
Unwilling to erase the progress of having attached the sidearms, I’ve had to crawl under the tractor, tie a tow rope to the stuck shaft, secure the tow rope to my four-wheeler and use that to free it.
This entire operation has been known to take several hours, much sweat, skinned knuckles and a flow of curse words.
I’m quite certain the language has not helped our relationship, and I’m working on that.
Once up and running doesn’t mean the adventure is over.
There is much vibration in the mower, akin to being attached to one of those weight loss machines that wraps a belt around your middle and shakes, which means critical pins can come loose, which means the Bush Hog can end up in precarious positions, which means walking back to the barn to get the farm truck’s jack to realign the mower to properly attach it again.
Then there are the repairs the Massey Ferguson often requires, such as unclogging the fuel line, which no matter how carefully done always results in a good dousing of diesel.
Removing dirt and debris from the radiator so the engine doesn’t overheat is another fun chore.
I could go on.
For instance, changing the bearing on the Bush Hog’s rear wheel probably shouldn’t take a day and a half, but loosening bolts that haven’t been freed in years takes more sweat, more cursing and more time, as does the several trips to town to the tractor shop to get needed parts.
After my latest skirmish with the tractor, my wife commented: “You and that tractor! Gonna take it away from you!”
Not a chance. Our relationship is beginning to mature.
I’m no longer a rookie. I have the scars to prove it.

Published by

ronlittlepage

I wrote opinion columns for The Florida Times-Union for 28 years. I retired in December 2017, but I still have a few things to say. Often those thoughts come to me when I'm at our farm in Gadsden County where life is simple and the environment still beautiful.

2 thoughts on “The Tractor”

  1. I love this, Ron. I think you gave Dad a great birthday laugh.

    On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 3:18 PM Ron Littlepage’s View From The Farm wrote:

    > ronlittlepage posted: “One would think that after almost eight years of > sharing intimate moments we would be friends. We are closer to reaching > mutual understanding, but it is apparent there will always be an > undercurrent of mistrust and acrimony in our relationship. Neither on” >

    Like

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