Saturday, April 19, 2014

Farm Days

Monday blew in on a gusty wind. Still troubled with what I was determined to identify as pollen allergies, I spent much of  the day outdoors.
J. summoned me early on to tow a tractor around the dooryard.
This has been a recurring chore as he has struggled to start the latest refurbished tractor.
He replaced the starter and the fuel pump, the fuel filters, bled the lines.
The tractor would fire and then quit, starved for fuel.

I do not like towing a disabled vehicle!
I understand the process well enough:  one eases along watching the tow chain until it is taut, then accelerates to tow the recalcitrant tractor to the point where it starts and runs.
In actuality I often manage to do something wrong, be it mis-interpreting J.'s hand signals, choosing the wrong way to loop about the front field [if the dragged tractor hasn't started as we approach the end of the driveway.]  Then too, there is the possibility that I have 'my' tractor in the wrong gear, don't give it gas enough, etc.
Given the rate at which tractors arrive and then are sold on I am seldom driving one with which I am familiar.
Repeated sessions in the past week convinced me that the current tractor in running condition has a very touchy clutch action. No matter how cautiously I used the pedal there was a jerk and lurch as it let in.
Thus on Monday, having heeded my ultimatum that I would NOT be agreeable to using that particular tractor as a tow, I was taken aback to find that J. had hooked the 4-wheeler to his stubborn tractor and I was meant to steer it about the yard.
It was asking a lot of the 4 wheeler to tow the big tractor. It strained and scrabbled before the tractor behind began to move. The end of the driveway was upon us and still the tractor hadn't 'fired.'
I turned into the meadow, where-upon the 4 wheeler protested and faltered. 
I braked and looked over my shoulder at J. for assistance.
He came alongside, put the 4-wheeler in low range. 
It takes all the strength I can muster to maneuver the 4-wheeler in low range. Steering to the left in a wide curve to get back onto the drive I struck a deep rut which threw the tires to the right.
Braced as I was I felt a painful wrench in my back.
Grimly I gave the 4 wheeler 'all she wrote' and strained back to the top of the drive dragging my useless burden behind.
J. stomped inside to do some tractor research on his laptop, exasperated beyond words with the hours of tinkering to no avail.
I should have gone inside at that point, made a mug of tea, taken a break.
Instead I mopped my streaming eyes and nose, fetched my pruning snippers and tackled the winter-seared branches of the buddleia.
An hour later as I finished heaping dead twigs on the burn pile, J. emerged.
I was pleased to find that the tractor fiasco wasn't about to be discussed.
'I think we might as well go over to the other place.  I'll load the tractor and tiller and we can put in the blueberries."
He soon had the big tractor and tiller loaded on the trailer, and I carefully stowed the potted blueberries into the space behind the truck seats.
We arrived at the other place to find that the neighboring farmer had, per request of the former owner, plowed up half of the large garden space.
While J. chugged up and down, churning the soil to a fine tilth, I explored my soon to be new dooryard.
I walked the perimeter of the acre noting that honeysuckle vine had run unchecked for years, and that there will be a mighty job ahead to cut and pull down the strangling growth.
I discovered creeping phlox and candytuft  in a tiny 'garden' at the front edge of the lawn, decided there would be room for my treasured peonies in the existing circular bed in front.
I wished I'd thought to bring the pruners as the one rose under the front windows is badly in 
need of a trim.
I strolled back to the garden to find that J. had finished his tilling and was shoveling rich composted manure into the carefully spaced holes for the blueberries.
I lilted the plants tenderly from their big pots, settled them into the prepared spaces and firmed the cool soil around them.
We planted the strawberry plants next, hoping for the best--they've been held over for several weeks and looked frail and dry.

On the way home J. stopped off at the specialty tractor repair shop he favors.
I was tired, aching--content to sit still.
J. merged shortly, jubilant at the information he had learned.
"Tom says the problem is in the generic fuel filters I installed. They're sold as a substitute for the originals, but they're designed differently and don't let the fuel through."
So--we roared up through town to the MF dealership where J. purchased fuel filters.
A few turns of the wrench and they were installed.
The tractor obligingly started under its own steam and  J. ran it smoothly around the yard.
Days of frustration ended, the reek of diesel fuel on hands and clothing done with for this round.
I listened sympathetically to J.'s rant about parts that are sold as replacements and don't fit the
 intended application.
With the tractor now running well and ready for re-sale, J.has  turned his attention to bodywork on a
 car fender.
I finally admitted that I was coming down with a bad cold and retreated to my rocking chair with mugs of tea and a stack of magazines.
Outside--spring moves on.


  1. That sounds like quite a day - glad the tractor finally had a hapy ending. Hope you soon feel better, colds are really miserable especially when it's Spring and you want to be up and doing. I've missed about your new garden so will have to go back and read your old posts - have been off the blogging radar for a while as I've just been too busy. By evenings when I do have a bit of time I'm too brain dead to write blog posts:)

  2. Get well soon. As a farmer's son I remember being required to tow unco-operative tractors on many occasions: it's the kind of job where you can only be in the wrong - if the tractor starts the mechanic takes all the glory, if it won't then it's your fault!

  3. Its wonderful you can begin moving plants now, ahead of the main move, to your new home. For most of us it all happens on the same fraught, chaotic day!
    When I eventually move again, i shall be taking some of my plants in pots to store at my mums and sisters ahead of time, to be collected again afterwards, as Its just so difficult to do it all in one day!

    Leanne x

  4. You are such a patient and hard working " tractor wife"! Good news that the MF parts made the tractor run smoothly in the end.

    How exciting to plan your garden and plot at the new farm. It must be so convenient to be near enough to begin planting before you move.

    I hope your cold/ allergy soon goes on its way. The oaks are coming into flower here so there may be some sneezing before too long!

  5. What an adventure that all was!

    I do hope you are soon feeling much better.

    I am looking forward to photos of 'the other place'.

    Love and hugs to you on this Easter morning ~ FlowerLady

  6. You have my sympathy,I don't even like to help jump start a car that won't start, can't imagine towing one. Hope you feel better soon.

  7. How frustrating with that tractor, must catch up on back blogs, you seem to be moving!