Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life With Tractor

The thing about the tractor is that we always are looking for ways to use it. The farm is small enough that the tractor is in a marginal area of usefulness. Usually what happens is I say, "We need to do this job," and Jason says, "Let's use the tractor!"

So, the other day we were taking the bedded pack material from Chappy's stall. Throughout the winter and even most of last fall, we did not clean out her stall; we just added bedding on top of it leaving it to compost in place. In case you are not getting a clear notion here, that means heaps of packed straw and hay.

Jason thought the tractor was the best way to move it, and he had a good point. The bedding is heavy and if you could lift it out with the bucket, you might be saving your shoulder for another year or two. By hand, the bedding had to be thrown into the back of the truck then gotten out of the back of the truck and into the pile. The bucket meant you could lift and dump.

The problem is that you cannot really get the tractor into the barn, much less into Chappy's 7x10 stall.

Plan B was to move the bedding by hand (manure fork) from the stall to the bucket and then drive the tractor with the filled bucket to the dump spot. However, it took two of us a solid half hour to fill the back of the pickup with manure forks. It took me about five minutes to fill the tractor bucket all by myself. I hope that gives you some sense of the different volumes involved.

Now imagine our very sandy soil and a piece of big equipment, either a truck or a tractor, driving back and forth however many times it takes to empty the stall. Obviously, the truck is much more efficient when you consider the number of trips necessary.

And while we were working all this out, we detached the rough cut mower from the tractor; if you haven't done this, then you have no notion of what kind of exercise in frustration it is. We are not sure if we're just incompetent or if tractor implements are deliberately exasperating so that your sense of accomplishment is met before you even turn the tractor on. We wonder if either of us knew diddlysquat about tractors or grew up using one whether we would know the magic trick to getting the mower off and on the PTO attachment and hitch. We have learned that there is no finesse and a sledgehammer comes in handy.

Sadly, when Jason was moving the tractor so that the detached mower would not look abandoned in the middle of the field, he ran the bucket into the barn wall. He did not even manage to poke the hole into the part of the wall that would have made cleaning Chappy's stall easier.

Once the wall was fixed and the mower detached, we abandoned the idea of using the tractor and were able to use the pickup truck to remove all the bedding with time left to bathe before we went on our date.

1 comment:

  1. That's learning through experience. Also, I love your new blog color scheme!