My tractor and me

We own a tiny bit of acreage near a little town named Roy.  A lot of it is open meadow.  Well, we want it to be open meadow.  Yearly we do battle with Himalayan blackberries to keep it from becoming one big tangle.  And that requires mowing the meadow before the new shoots of blackberry get tall enough to flower, fruit and seed. 

Usually, Fred does the mowing, but this year he needed to take an extended voyage in order to complete his sea time to renew his license.  So, he is gone. And yesterday, while the sun was actually shining, I went down there, took out all three manuals, opened the shop door and climbed up on the tractor seat.

There are lots of things you can learn out of a book.  Knitting.  How to draw.  Even how to pick out tunes on a musical instrument.  I am confident that, for most things, if you give me a ‘how to do it’ book, I can do it with a modicum of competence.

But things are a bit different when you are learning to do things on a moving vehicle.  And all three manuals seemed to believe that I had a somewhat basic idea of what I was doing.   Which I didn’t.   The tractor manual walked me through starting it up.  Then I switched to a different manual to get the front bucket up off the ground, but not too far up.  Backing it out of the show was a challenge. The mowing deck has a single wheel and it apparently had a mind of its own.  I finally climbed off the tractor, kicked it straight and managed to back out while leaving the shop door intact.

 The third manual, the one for the cutting deck the tractor pulls, was the most enigmatic one.   “Okay, it says not to engage the mower blade until the engine rpm is up to 540.  It doesn’t say how to rev it up to that.  What lever haven’t I pushed yet?”  And thus the throttle lever is found on the illustration page and moved until the gauge says I can engage the mower.

I was more than a bit scared at the start of my experiment.  I knew I had to do this. Standing grass becomes dry grass, and even if the blackberries could be ignored for one summer, one carelessly discarded cigarette butt could set the whole field on fire.  So this was a ‘have to do’ not merely a ‘challenge myself’ thing. 

I got the back piece behind the house and out to the oak tree and the tire swing cut.  I cut the piece that surrounds the old chicken house and approaches the pond.  I tried the piece in front of the house, and cut a bit there but decided the land was still a bit too wet from all our rains.  No sense cutting when it means that later on I’d have to deal with big muddy ruts from where I’d driven on wet ground. 

And a couple of hours later, I drove the tractor back into the shop, lowered the bucket and the mowing deck, made sure the emergency brake was all set and everthing else restored to a neutral position, and shut it down.

I didn’t get the tractor stuck or tip it over.  I didn’t hit the shop or my van with it.  I didn’t run over any of my baby trees.  I didn’t hit any of the ‘iceberg’ rocks that are so plentiful on the place.  I avoided the snakes that I saw sunning in the grass.  I didn’t run over my flower bed or the hose that someone had left out last fall.

I taught myself to do something.  It felt pretty darn good. 


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  • Steve M says:

    Very pleasant website Megan. I don’t know why I haven’t visited before. so, who wrote the poem, you or Robin? 😉


  • hopnut jester says:

    hi megan! people could learn from your example.if you ever need any help, i would volunteer my services – anything to work off this beer gut i’ve aquired, i hate “working out”.boring! i’d rather be doing something usefull. so, if you could use an extra hand (or two), just contact Bobbi Horn. she’ll know how to get in touch with me. prost!