Farming: Part 7

I hitched my brand new, 70 year old, plow to my equally old tractor. I felt like a stud. I attacked my field and everything worked perfectly.

Ha ha ha. Haven’t I said that everything is harder than it looks? Plowing looks simple. It ‘aint.

Tractors have three point hitches and there is a wide range of setups for such things. Are you a newbie with a similar old tractor? Are you wondering if you’ve got the proper gear on your three point? Here’s the short answer; “no”. You only have the right stuff if you know what the right stuff is and dutifully installed whatever was missing.

An old tractor will haul firewood and chase cats and do all sorts of great stuff with half the hitch bits missing. Thus, they’ve probably been missing since the Carter administration. There are a thousand bars and chains and adjusters that you really should have. If you lack them you suck. Mention it to an old farmer he’ll explain in detail just to what degree you suck. It might take hours.

I decided to upgrade to “all the stuff”. It’s a righteous and awesome thing to have your tractor’s three point properly configured. I got everything installed and working. It wasn’t super expensive.

(Editorial note: One might think, “a ball hitch on a truck will tow whatever you want, are tractors hitches stupid?” Wrong! Tractors lift, shift, settle, grab, and hold implements doing everything. That’s complex. Dragging dead weight on pavement is chickenshit easy. It’s also why, as the most decrepit antique tractors approach death, someone slaps a ball hitch on a drawbar and calls it good.)

The part I needed was a lift arm leveling assembly. On the right side I my assembly was broke and welded shut. On the left I needed only the lift arm. That had been broke and welded back together somewhat crooked. Bent is good enough. Also one check chain was disconnected and the other was broken. These are just chunks of chain. Practically free to buy the parts.

I bought the parts and slipped out the mount pin to install the new one. Ha ha ha. Haven’t I told you nothing works out? Pins that should slip out… don’t. Someone, doing God knows what, had bent the pin. Those are tough pins. Whomever bent it is lucky they didn’t roll the tractor. For all I know they did roll it. Maybe they got disemboweled in the process. The tractor isn’t telling.

I tried every tool I had. Finally I started flailing away with a hammer. Ghastly business but three beers later I’d driven the pin out. I bought a new pin. Re-installation was easy. Ha ha ha… not really.

Finally I had everything hitched, leveled, mounted, and ready to rock and roll. I confidently headed for my field.

Things went downhill from there.

Initially the plow would enter the soil and everything would be groovy. In a few feet deep grass would clog up one of those parts of the plow I can’t identify… possibly a “coulter”. As soon as that grass jammed it up the plow went from an elegant weapon for a more civilized age to a boat anchor some jackass was dragging around a field. Then the tractor would start bucking like a bronco and things got ugly. One of three things would happen.

1. The plow would pop out of the ground leaving a 50 pound pile of soil and matted weeds in a lump.
2. The tractor would grind to a halt and begin to stall.
3. The wheels would spin in a way that makes OSHA hyperventilate.

I kept at it mercilessly. I flogged the tractor. I flogged myself. After many many hard hours I’d made several shaky furrows but nothing like an actual plowed field. I decided that I’d better stop before either my tractor or my vertebrae shattered.

Another attempt, another failure.

In my next post I’m going to go off on a rant about patent law and Nazi sympathizing jerks. This is totally on topic.


About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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2 Responses to Farming: Part 7

  1. colbrug says:

    Another attempt, another failure.
    Welcome to farming. I’ve never known a farmer whose farm and machinery didn’t bitch-slap him, turn him up-side-down, shake all the money out of his pockets, and laugh while doing it. It’s only out of sheer (will-power…nope, persistence…nope, determination…nope) stubbornness or idiocy that we keep going.

    However, when the job is finished, by either brute force or the occasional finessing of the machinery over the land, you remember why you do it. I garauntee that the feeling is exceptional when you learn the ins and outs of the machine and plow, and adjust each bolt, tweak each link, and twerk every setting so that for a few glorious hours, everything works just as you desired.

    BTW, I prefer my rolling coulter to cut as deep as the plow is plowing. If the plow actually goes deep enough to put the bearing on the coulter below the soil level, lift the coulter up so that the bearing is about 1 bald eagle feather width above the ground.

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