Friday, September 4, 2009

Sept. 4, 2009

I have come to find out the hard way that there is always something about farming that you never plan on that always comes up. Yesterday it was all about mechanics.

First my tiller just quit. I worked on it long and hard using a lot of four letter words but just couldn't seem to revise the 25 year old machine. With a big cloud of white smoke, the old girl just let out what seemed to be a final breath and would not respond to any artificial respiration. She died right there in front of me.

Then it was on to my other girl, the 58 year old 8N Ford tractor. The ole steady and reliable beast always has managed to perk up after just a few cranks and eagerly get going to tackle whatever hellish job that I had lined up for her that day. Well, yesterday she gave no indication that she was ready to start. She just labored groggily trying her best to start but never taking the task to heart.

I charged the battery with hopes that induction of higher voltage would spark her into action, kind of like using a defibrillator on a human, but was myself shocked to see no response. I had just sunk into mechanical despair. What was going on?

Just about that time, a neighbor came by and said that Ford was now producing a 50 hp. diesel "Boomer 8N" to play on the nostalgia of those that had worked with the old steady machines in the past. The old reliable 8N, HA! But suddenly something happened that has happened in the past with me when it came to frustrating mechanical moments. "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance". A book that I had struggled with trying to finish for years.

It was a passage in the book that forever has stuck a chord with me. One that dealt with solving mechanical problems. It had to do with starting with the most simple of things first. In other words, check the essential things that make a motor run, even if it is ridiculous.

Well, the conversation with the neighbor and the new diesel tractor reminded me of fuel. I had looked in the gas tank before and saw the shinny reflection of fluid near the bottom of the dark tank hole and figured it was fine. But was it? I decided to add more fuel. I screwed the cap back and sat down in the tractor seat and pushed the start button. Three seconds later the happiest sound a frustrated mechanic can hear hit the air waves. The sweet hum of success. The purring of a machine as old as I was running smoothly.

It was now to late to do any work with her. I turned off the motor and walked away. Lesson for the day. Start earlier!

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