A stunning revelation occurred to me tonight. For the last coon’s age, or however long I’ve been writing this column, I’ve written almost exclusively about humorous happenings that feature me and/or my children. Every now and then, I mention my ever-so-patient and generous hubby, but not often. You might, therefore, think that he leads an uneventful life, having to put up with me nonwithstanding. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You see, my husband enjoyed a fairly typical non-rural American boyhood. He worked on cars some with his dad, who taught him how to be “good at connecting his want to with his need to.” He’s no slouch in the brain department either, insisting that there’s nothing he can’t do, at least once. Those attitudes proved themselves invaluable when we bought this place, most especially when it comes to our tractor.
We actually paid extra on the purchase price of the property to include the battered Allis Chalmers WD 45 that had been part of the landscape out here since shortly after it rolled off the assembly line. Our reasoning at the time was probably along the lines of “the older stuff is easier to work on,” and “wow, are new tractors expensive. Who needs an air conditioned cab anyway?” Hubs wasted no time acquainting himself with Allis’s innards, achieving a decent working relationship expeditiously. Sure, it almost gave me a heart attack when he taught the kids how to drive ol’ Allis, but take it from me: deep breathing and counting to ten really do help.
Just the other day, he wanted to get ready to mow our small hay field and figured he’d practice on the ditch first. He knew the adjustment cables weren’t raising the rake quite as high as he wanted them to last year. Having no particular desire to pull the rake out of the crick, and tired of his hands being punctured and cut by the oft-spliced and frayed cables, he figured he’d put in an adjustment screw with an eye bolt. Off to the hardware store he went, then pulled the tractor under the barn awning to prepare to work on it the next day.
Bright and early the next morning. He took the cable off, cut it shorter, and added the adjustment screw. So far so good, and not many injuries. He started the tractor, then raised the mower and put the cable back on the pulleys. I probably called him inside to do something, so he turned the tractor off. Returning to it, it wouldn’t start. Trying the most time honored repair trick in the book, he poked around in the engine and jiggled some wires, and started the tractor, which promptly died. Out of gas. Trudge, trudge, trudge to the garage for the gas can. He added the gas, restarted the tractor, and pulled out to the driveway.
At the end of the driveway, he stopped to perform the pre-mow check. He dropped the bar to engage the sickle bar, checked the PTO hookup, and started the tractor back up to raise the mower. As he was climbing on, he heard something fall. Since that sound was not accompanied by any flurries of crashing and banging, he assumed all was well. He pulled the lever to start the PTO. Silence.
It had become disconnected. Heaving a deep sigh (the air wasn’t turning blue around him, so I’m assuming he wasn’t cursing), he backed down, and hooked it back up, reconnected the shaft to the PTO, and went to raise the mower.
WHANG. The brand new adjustment screw hook on the cables had become an adjustment straight pin and let everything go. Once again, hubby shut down the tractor, reengaged the holder, and drove back to the barn. When he came inside, he said “Not gonna mow today!” I didn’t blame him.
The next morning, re realized that he needed to get a round bale for the horses, preferably before it rained. The mower was still attached to the tractor, but the tractor wouldn’t start so he could change it for the bale spike. (Hubs informs me that the mower has to be running so he can use the hydraulics to lift the implements.) It almost turned over, but the starter wouldn’t engage the flywheel, it just made a whirring noise. Normally he turns off the ignition, but apparently he forgot this time. He grabbed the crank handle to move the motor just a hair to align the flywheel.
Getting impatient, he gave the crank more of a turn than usual, and leapt back as the tractor roared to life.
I’m pretty sure he has clearance for near-Earth orbit, but I guess I’d better check with the FCC.
He then switched over to the bale spike and headed out for a bale.
Apparently, since the round bales are so heavy, when he gets one loaded up and heads home with it, it pulls the tractor’s front wheels off the ground, so he just backs home. Deep breaths. One, Two, Three . .