Saturday, January 7, 2012

The learning curve

 There are areas of my farm that you really don't want to drive a tractor at this time of year.  We're about halfway through the wet season, and the ground has had three months of rain to soak up.  One of the farmhands decided that he'd drive down the fenceline, using the tractor to retrieve a calf dome that he wanted to use to house some chickens. 
 What he didn't know is that down that fenceline is an old drainage ditch that's overgrown.  He thought that the new tractor was OK with puddles; but it wasn't a puddle.  It was deep. 
 When I got the call last night I was downtown, working my day job, and headed in to see what I had to do to get the tractor out.  Sometimes by stacking stuff under the front loader you can generate enough lift to get the front tires out of the mud, throw a couple of hay bales in under them, and then back up -- as you back off the hay bales under the front tires it helps you get grip with the rear, and you "paddle" with the front loader, and the combination will get you out.  But not this time.  As we lifted the front of the tractor it slid farther down the mud and deeper into the drainage ditch, and tilted pretty alarmingly.  After a couple of hours of this, I shut it down for the night -- too dangerous to work after dark on this.  Propping the front loader on a pile of hay bales, I went home. 

I never sleep well when I've got equipment in the mud, and so I got up early in the morning, headed down to the farm, and worked off my energy doing some chores. 
 After looking at it in the morning, I had the culprit attach a chain to the draw bar on the back of the stuck tractor.  This involved basically shoveling freezing muck out of the way, and then reaching your entire arm into freezing water up to the shoulder to scoop handfuls of freezing muck out of the way, and then to run the chain through the attachment.  One way you learn not to do this is to have to fix what you've done.  I'm pretty sure that the message got through. 
 Once the chain was in, I brought the other big tractor over, and the proceeded to paddle with the front loader and use the tires in very low gear, and pull with the other tractor.  The combination of all of that managed to pull the stuck tractor out. 
 It was entirely covered with mud, pretty much up to the bottom of the cab.  Pressure washing time, inspect to see what sort of damage was done, and back to work. 
This is the main reason that I'm inclined to keep two big tractors around.  They can pull each other out of the soup. 

3 comments:

Josh said...

I enjoy reading your blog, and am truly impressed with your help. Even if he is the "culprit" he was working well after dark in terrible weather, then back in the morning for a quick swim in the ditch. My hats off to him. And good luck to you.

Bruce King said...

He got points for coming to work the next day, no question. We didnt' work after dark; when it started getting dark I cut it off and came back the next morning. It was pretty stable -- not sinking, so no reason to rush.

John Schneider - Gold Forest Grains said...

This falls into the category of "what were you thinking?". Oh well, live and learn for young folks like you said. He sounds like he has some character and a new found sense of what not to do next time. LOL