Monday, June 22, 2015

Do What Scares You

It was a nice week as I balanced my part time summer school job with afternoon work at the farm.  Nothing too extraordinary occurred, but in Nature of course, things are always moving and shaking!

In the garden, news was good! No deer found their way in, and we had plenty of rain mixed with sun and warmer temperatures.  This was enough to get almost everything sprouted that I had planted last weekend, the champions of course being the beans and the lettuces as you might expect.

The first veggie harvest of the year (not including asparagus, which doesn't count) was green onions.  Woot!

One fun find in my garden adventures was the discovery of some turtle eggs when I was working the soil.  Here near the river and pretty much everywhere in Northern Wisconsin these days, we see a lot of turtles.  I'd say that for those of us paying attention, you'll see at least one a day as you drive about.  Turtles make their way onto the road edges and hang about a while as they like the sandy soil for laying eggs.  It will be interesting to see if the turtles in my garden hatch and if so, how they will get out of my well fenced, rabbit-proof enclosure.

Turtle eggs in the garden.
I managed to get a water pump that I found in the barn to run, which was a great surprise.  With some adapters, I can likely get it working to pump water from the pond into the irrigation system dad set up for the gardens and lawns.

Mom and I have talked about selling the tractor and the large collection of implements.  I have been pretty adamant that the 1952 Ford 8n tractor was simply too old, impractical, and unsafe to use.  Further, although I have used a tractor at my previous hobby farm, a newer Honda model, this one was very difficult for me to figure out. Unlabeled levers and pedals are everywhere.  They all pointed to the potential for the terrifying moment where the tractor reared up like a horse and fell on top of me, or sucked me into it's uncovered PTO system.
The Monster in the Barn
In preparation for selling the it, I began to research auction and sales websites for tractors to get a feel for what the old Ford might be worth.  I learned that there are plenty still in use, and read very little about the catastrophes they are involved in. Further, I realized that given this tractor actually can do the work needed on the farm, and that a newer one would cost, say $10,000, I needed to open my mind and find a way to do what my father, brother, and son have done. Use the tractor.  I'd say this decision is simply my thrift trumping my fear.

I watched a bunch of YouTube videos.  I told myself that driving this tractor is not anywhere near as terrifying as I was making it out to be.  Driving the antiquated tractor is not like, say, going over Niagara falls in a barrel.  Still, I had to do a good bit of self-talk as I remembered Eleanor Roosevelt's words about doing "what scares you".  Once I committed myself to doing it, it literally took 3 hours to start the tractor and keep it running long enough to get it into gear, and another full hour to connect the mower deck.  A well-timed phone call from my brother Dean helped me learn how to keep the gas flowing enough to prevent stalling and to hear some more reassurance that the tractor would not topple over on me.  

In the end, I took the monster out and got some field grass cut, riding the clutch a bit too much but accomplishing some good work and coming out alive.  I had to stop twice and tinker with the machinery to keep it going.
Over the shoulder view as I tried to keep both hands on the wheel!

I also got my hands and clothing super dirty and greasy. Now I know why farmers dress like they do. I never got this dirty back in the day with my fancy Honda tractor. 

After a nice day of farming, I ended the day with a really nice boat ride on the river where Nikki and I spotted this cool dude totally relaxed and loving life in the Northwoods.  What a great way to end the weekend.

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