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Published April 12, 2010, 12:13 PM

Loose rocks and fragile windows

TOWNER, N.D.—“People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is the old adage warning folks who are vulnerable not to attack others.

By: Ryan Taylor,

TOWNER, N.D.—“People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is the old adage warning folks who are vulnerable not to attack others.

I’d add that ranchers in glass tractors shouldn’t pull hay trailers on stony roads. That’s more practical advice. It doesn’t have anything to do with moral vulnerability and reciprocity, just the fact that replacing windows in tractors is danged expensive.

I give readers this advice having done the hard on-road research. And I write this column in the hope that it’ll help pay for part of replacing the back window of my new tractor.

Hay-hauling hazards

It all happened when I got a good deal on some nice hay from a relative. Problem was, the hay was 20 miles away. The twine was a little rotten, and it was an odd number of bales, so I opted to load it and haul it myself rather than subject a hired semi-truck and trailer to the task.

The trips started out pretty good. Sit in comfort in a nice, tight tractor cab, tune in the radio, sip a little coffee and motor down the road 24.3 miles an hour with my 12 bales on the trailer.

The rear-view mirrors on the new tractor even give me pretty good visibility if someone would happen to get behind me and want to travel a little faster than 24.3 mph. It wasn’t an issue, though, in my low-traffic locale. I could go the 40 miles round trip without slowing down a single motorist.

On the third trip, though, I was cruising for home and BANG! I came under attack from behind. It was as loud or louder than a gun shot, and, not having lived in Juarez, Mexico, or the south side of Chicago, I’m not used to that sound while I’m driving.

If I was hauling hay in Juarez or Chicago, I’d have dropped to the floor of the cab, but as it was, I figured I wasn’t under fire and I’d best keep my hands on the wheel and keep the outfit on the road.

Instant ventilation

The back window shattered into a million pieces. We usually complain that there’s not enough gravel on our sandy township roads, so it was quite a surprise that my hay mover’s tire found a piece of gravel to fire at my window.

It could have been worse. At least the weather was nice, so the fresh spring air felt kind of good. All I could think about, though, as the dust swirled around me in my airy cab was how much money that little rock had just cost me.

It’ll probably cost me just a dollar or two less than my high insurance deductible. It may make me want to see how long I can get by with the cloudy clear plastic and duct tape that I stretched over the back of the cab when I got home.

It does add a little cost to the hay I was hauling that day. I suppose another $50 a bale to pay for the broken window.

That’s one expense Dad never had to cough up on his no-cab, two-cylinder John Deere. No one said progress and modernization would be cheap.

But I am glad I live a neighborhood where the threat was a rock and not a bullet.