Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Farm machinery

Machinery is a part of farming completely opaque to me. I can barely tell if a piece of machinery is running, not to mention running well. All of our machinery is really old, with the exception of our tractor that we bought in 1985.

The haybine and the baler are used twice every summer, but we can’t bale hay without them, so Dave keeps them in good repair. The hay wagons get a lot of use too. We’ve replaced tires, the boards on the bed of the wagon and those of the back supports. We’ve tied the beds of the wagons to the wheels and running gear with spikes and chains. In fact, the only parts of the wagons we haven’t replaced are the metal parts – the running gears, axel and tongue. We repaint the wagons every few years when we need an easy job for a new employee. Our daughters Amber and Laurel did the first paint job when they were young – one wagon blue and purple, the other red and orange. The painting gave the girls a sense of ownership in the farm.

Maybe repairing machinery does that for Dave also. If that’s true, I’m lacking that sense of involvement. I don’t repair machinery. I pump the brake pedal when Dave bleeds the brake line. I tighten the valves when he bleeds the fuel pump. I add brake fluid, gas and transmission fluid when necessary, but I don’t make repairs.

In fact, I cause repairs. Several years ago, we bought an old chopper to use in rainy years when the hay molds too much to feed to the sheep and we have to chop it back onto the field. I had pulled the chopper home over the back roads because it was too wide and too slow to drive down the highway. Last summer I hooked the tractor to the chopper to pull it down the driveway, but somehow, in the intervening years, I’d forgotten the too wide part.

So when I started down our tree lined drive, I didn’t think to check the clearance between the chopper and the trees at the edge of the drive. By the time I did think of clearance, it was too late. I had already exceeded it.

Fortunately, the chopper seems to have been designed with people like me in mind. After the first metal bar bent and the first half inch bolt broke, the upper half of the machine swung aside to let the tree trunks pass. Dave was able to disconnect the top half from the bottom and drag them down the driveway. The decapitated chopper now sits at the end of our drive, taunting me every time I pass by. I’m not sure what Dave thinks when he walks by, but I pray we get the hay baled before it rains so that Dave won’t have to repair that particular piece of machinery any time soon.

1 comment:

  1. You know, it might actually be the malicious trees along the driveway and not your driving choices that caused the decapitation. Remember the tree that mangled the driver's side mirror the first time I drove up the driveway? There is a history for problematic trees along that stretch of woods.