e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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Once Upon a Tractor

It's likely that some of you know more about tractors than I do, but it's also likely that some of you have never been close to a tractor, let alone had a chance to climb on and do something with it.

My first tractor experience was riding on a schoolfriend's father's tractor.  It was orangeish (not a new tractor) and it had the two front wheels close together.  All of us lucky enough to be invited out to Pam's wanted to ride on the tractor (we also wanted to ride on the framework of the disk harrow, a very dangerous place to be, because if you fall off the disks will do to you what they do to the ground.  Not good.  Not allowed.)  When the tractor was sitting in the yard, engine off, we  would go out and climb on it and pretend to drive it (feet not reaching pedals, sitting on the edge of the seat and reaching to get to the steering wheel.  We loved the throaty noise it made; we loved the big BIG wheels with their cleated tires. 

I was also hooked on road graders and bulldozers and other big machines that Did Things. 

After we got our 80 acres, we tried using the little lawn tractor to mow maintenance paths for us...but as the land recovered from overgrazing and other abuse, the vegetation got taller and thicker...and the possibility of very large annoyed snakes striking the legs of the person on the lawn tractor grew as well.   The little tractor would attack four-foot-high grass, but it just wasn't big enough or powerful enough to cope well, and after several repairs we gave up and went for the real thing.  To my delight.

The real thing in this case is a John Deere 5105--not big at all, as today's tractors go.  It has PTO and a 3 point hitch, and my mowing machine is a 6 foot shredder/mower with its own wheels, that I can lift and lower to the desired height for various purposes.   It has a diesel engine and a nice throaty sound.   It also has a few characteristic problems (the rock-shaft valve has had to be replaced twice.  The way you find out it needs replacement is you start the tractor, lift the mower deck a little, and it keeps going up and won't come back down.  Rock-shaft valve replacements--when you do the work--cost something over $600, esp. counting the gas to drive across the county to the dealer and buy a new one and drive back.) 

But aside from that, a working machine and a great one.   The fun part is driving it.  I have two gearshift levers (one chooses range, A and B, and direction, forward and back.  The other chooses gears within the ranges.)  I have a lever that engages or disengages the PTO to the mower, and a lever that controls the height of the mower.  I have a clutch pedal, a brake pedal, and a foot throttle as well as the hand throttle on the console in front of the steering wheel.  The blades turn at 2300 rpm and slice effortlessly through inch-thick young trees, eight-foot-tall giant ragweed stems,  grass at all heights of course.  The time I hit the unseen rock, it wasn't effortless (it was noisy and scary and the PTO and engine both complained) but three inches came off the top of that rock before I could get the PTO off.   I feel very competent when I'm maneuvering the rig in difficult corners and things, cutting just what I want the height I want (and not hitting rocks), changing gears easily, lifting and lowering the deck.  I feel less competent when I don't see a baby pecan and slice it off....it's really easy to chug along, thinking about the book in progress, and not see the unexpected.

I've been on the tractor a lot this week, and have some more work to do with it today.   Just thought y'all might like an intro to "fun with tractors."

Tags: country life, tractor

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