Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Zen and the Art of Tractor Repair

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
"Dang! It thought it was the battery!"

I turned the key again--dead silence.
Not even a click.

I was afraid of this. My "new" used Massey-Ferguson 135 tractor had died the day before in our meadow. I thought it needed a new battery. So I bought one in town on Tuesday and bro-in-law Dave Rudie, Zick, and I walked it out to the stranded hunk of metal.
Tinkering, fiddling, and getting my hands extra oily.

But after putting the new battery in, the tractor's condition did not improve.
I said bad words.
Julie said: "It's too old to have a bunch of Naderisms isn't it?"
I said: "It's got to be a bad starter."
Dave said: "On an old car that won't start, sometimes, if you tap the starter, it starts!"
Me: "Dude, get tapping!"
"It's that there carburetor that's messin' ya up!"

Cross your fingers and hope for a start.

Dave tapped. Nothing. He tapped more and I jiggled the high-low speed shift.
The tractor turned over and roared to life, clouds of blue, stinky smoke billowed out the back.

Smiles and high fives all around.
"I tapped it right here, next to the whatchamacallit."

Now I'm not exactly sure if it was Dave's brilliant mechanical technique or my shifting of the high-low gear into LOW, but I'm just glad the dang tractor is alive once more.
Happy Farmer Bill (of the Birds)

I spent the evening mowing, racing the sun around the brushy meadow. I got the tractor (which still needs a name) back to the garage just as the last cardinal was departing the feeders for his nighttime thicket.
There is a calm that settles over me, sitting on my tractor, as it kills and maims innocent plantlife.
I stand up and watch for box turtles, dog toys, and frisbees as I mow.

The meadow looked so nice this morning. Will post a photo of it here later tonight.


On April 11, 2006 at 11:22 PM roberta said...

hi, bill. my husband and i were listening to npr last nite...and long story short, realized that the commentator was your wife! wanted to say, "hello!" after many years - internet is pretty cool. -roberta (schrote) ruark

On April 12, 2006 at 12:43 AM Bill of the Birds said...

Hey Roberta!
How cool to reconnect! Am commenting on your blog now (after the hilarious Jack Handey post).
Let's catch up!--B