Sunday, October 05, 2008

Where tractors go to die

Long-time readers of this blog may know that I have a love/hate relationship with our tractor. It's really mostly hate, but I do love how much work it can do on a gallon of gas.

The trouble is, I can't keep it running. I'm getting better, little by little. But I just don't know enough, or I don't have the right tools or parts, or I have a lot of bad luck. Of course, this tractor is over a half century old, so I'm willing to cut it some slack. Even so, I don't ask a lot of it, and it does keep getting more creative with it's breakdowns.

All I've wanted to do for the last several months is cut down the weeds engulfing our property. Ever since it became apparent that my distant neighbor's promise of some loaner cattle was not going to happen, and ever since we figured out that our pasture gates were too narrow for any haymaking equipment short of a scythe and a rake, I've just wanted to cut it all down. Waist high weeds going to seed are not something that you want to have around in vast quantities.

The tractor broke down a couple times during the summer, and I was able to fix it. Just not for long. Now it's got an electrical problem that I can't track down. I've got a friend helping me, but since he's several hundred miles away and mired in his own fixes, I thought I'd just try borrowing my next door neighbor's tractor.

He's got a finish mower rather than a bush hog, but the grass and weeds are all pretty brown and crunchy, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. If it got to be too much, I could just raise the mowing deck, or stop.

It actually worked pretty well. For the first acre. Then it died. I tried getting it going. I had it running again for about 5 minutes before it conked out again. Then my neighbor came over and spent an hour with it. He got it running, sort of, but only enough so that he and the tractor could limp home.

At that point it occured to me that every single tractor that has been on our property since we bought it has broken down. When our distant neighbor cut hay off our one unfenced field, his big tractor broke down twice. The second time, he had to call for reinforcements. Way back when our builder was finishing up our house, they paid one of our soon-to-be neighbors to come down and clear the brush. We happened to stop by that day, only to see his tractor overheating. I think it took him quite a while to get it running well enough to finish the job.

So I'm coming to the conclusion that our property has some sort of anti-tractor curse. Maybe we accidentally built on some ancient sacred burial ground. Maybe the previous owner was a Luddite with a minor in witchcraft. Perhaps it's somehow related to those black helicopters I see flying around here so often.

Whatever the case, I guess I'd better start brushing up on my scything skills.


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At 10/06/2008 5:43 PM, Blogger homebrewlibrarian said...

My younger sister seems to produce a similar effect in cars. Doesn't matter what car she owns, how old it is, how well maintained (or not) it is, they all give her trouble. Except that she has no aptitude for car repair.

When wacky stuff like that happens, I usually attribute it to planetary alignment, acts of God, sun spots, that sort of thing. Particularly if it seems rather capricious in occurrence. Is there no one in your community who repairs tractors who can do more than patch it up when it fails?

Kerri in AK

At 10/06/2008 5:56 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Kerri - It's actually a pretty good tractor. All of the problems have been fairly minor. It's just that minor for somebody else is often major for me. I'm gradually having to replace all the exposed parts one by one - spark plug wires, starter button, gauges, alternator, belts, tire tubes, etc.

I do get help from neighbors, but after a half dozen times, they don't always return my calls right away... :)

The truth is, we just don't know that many people in our community. The downside of transplanting into "rural suburbia".


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