I finally fixed a tractor. Instead of breaking one.

by Katie on March 28, 2011

Everyone, and I mean everyone, gives Brandon a hard time about breaking more than his fair share of farm equipment.

But lately, I have to admit, I’ve had quite the “touch of death” myself. Which probably doesn’t surprise anyone in my family.

But this weekend, instead of breaking a tractor, I fixed one. All by myself. Really. Brandon didn’t even have a clue as to how to get it done.

We’re taking over harvesting all our own hay this year (rather than paying Brandon’s dad, brother and their employee to do most of it). This also means we had to purchase all the necessary equipment to do this. Right after the beginning of the year, Brandon went to an auction and came home with a set of hay rakes and a baler tractor.

The tractor is a 2008, which is about ten years newer than any other piece of equipment we own or lease from his dad (this might be an exaggeration, but only slightly). Needless to say, even though it’s just a small tractor we’ll use mostly to pull the hay baler, it’s pretty fancy in our book.

Fancy, as in, the air conditioner works perfectly, it has one of those little side-seats like all the newer equipment these days, has a digital rpm and speed reading, and changes gear speeds with the press of a button, rather than a manual gear shift.

This weekend was my first little spin in the drivers’ seat of the new tractor, and I was pretty excited at the prospect of completing my job without getting a dust coating every time I hit a bump in the road or field, having to call Brandon to add freon to the A/C unit, and being able to actually read the screen on the radio, instead of guessing how many times to press the buttons to get to the next good station.

So, off I went.

But about half a mile down the road, I realized, from my fancy digital reading of course, that my maximum road travel speed was going to be fourteen miles per hour. Even for a tractor, that’s pretty darn slow. Especially for a newer model tractor.

I immediately called Brandon to report my problem. Which, apparently he knew about, but didn’t feel the need to relay before I headed 6.5 miles down the road. I politely informed him he probably should have prepared me for the slow ride. He mentioned something about meaning to fix it, but not finding where the problem was yet…nothing of which could help me get down the road any faster.

So I chugged along, feeling like a slug. I have never longed for 20 mph so bad in all my life. Three miles down the road, I imagined that 20 would feel like flying compared to 14.

Finally, one mile from my destination, I found a random dial next to the air conditioner controls marked with a turtle and hare, like all the gear controls. I noticed it wasn’t pointed all the way over the hare, and took a gamble.

Even though a small part of me said I shouldn’t be touching any dials, buttons or gears I couldn’t identify.

But, lo and behold, I shot off when that dial got to the hare. All the way to a whopping 19mph!

I called Brandon to report my success, and make sure the turbo-boost I just turned on wasn’t going to make the tractor spontaneously combust down the road or anything. And also slightly preparing myself for some kind words on just keeping my hands to myself when it came to fiddling around with the equipment.

But, I received only praise. “You’re kidding me!” he exclaimed, “I’ve been looking at that for two weeks trying to figure out how to go about fixing it. And you just found it! You already know more about that thing than I do!”

“Well, I didn’t have much else to do in the past half-hour besides look around on this thing. Glad I found it with a half-mile left to go.”

But I did get to drive all the way back at my increased speed. And celebrate the fact I hadn’t broken anything.

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