Good help needs good equipment
TOWNER, N.D. -- I've been planning a trip to Boston for a couple of months. Actually, the invitation was for a meeting that was supposed to be held in February when they got their first epic blizzard and it was rescheduled. I think they've had an...
TOWNER, N.D. -- I've been planning a trip to Boston for a couple of months. Actually, the invitation was for a meeting that was supposed to be held in February when they got their first epic blizzard and it was rescheduled. I think they've had an epic blizzard every week out there this winter. It makes me glad to live somewhere with a reputation for nice winters ... like North Dakota.
Being gone for a couple of days when we're feeding cows means maintaining good relations with my wife, who'll be feeding cows by herself in my absence. It also means maintaining good equipment to make sure the work goes as smoothly as possible while I'm gone.
I guess that's one of the reasons I bought a pretty modern loader tractor several years ago. Knowing that I would occasionally be depending on others -- like my wife and friends and neighbors, whom I want to remain my wife, or friend, or friendly neighbor after they've done me a favor with chores -- I broke down and bought a tractor with a comfortable cab, a good heater, a nice radio, front wheel assist to get it out of any tight spots, and all the little levers and knobs and joysticks that make it as easy to drive as a car and as fun to operate as a video game.
Really, that's the only reason I bought it. It wasn't for me. It was for them. If I get any joy or coziness out of running the outfit the 95 percent of the time that I'm in the seat, it's just collateral, coincidental comfort.
When it's 20 below zero and the heater has it warmed up so good in the cab that I take off my cap and gloves while I'm feeding, I just think to myself, how nice that will be for my wife and ranch partner when she's in the same air ride seat.
So, it's easy to understand my concern when just days before my departure, the front wheel assist quit assisting and the loader joystick began requiring some extra wiggling for the electric toggle switch to make the grapple fork grab a bale. I drove it to the dealer's shop in town pronto, in hopes that it might get turned around and be back in service before I abandoned ship and boarded the airplane.
We do have the backup loader tractor. I quickly installed the new alternator that's been sitting in its cardboard box since December to make things like starting the motor a little more effortless. I checked the forecast, and if the nice weather stays like it's supposed to, I think my replacement will be able to get by with the tractor replacement. Not having a good heater might be alright if the sun is shining and wind isn't blowing.
If we don't get a bunch of new snow, the two-wheel drive should manage to get the job done. Somehow, cows on the ranch got fed for 100 years without a four-wheel drive tractor.
Still, I know our marriage will be stronger, and my trip will be more enjoyable, if I don't get a text message in the middle of my meetings from my wife that says the tractor's stuck, or it won't start, or the radio wouldn't tune in to her favorite station without a lot of static.
If any of that happens, she probably won't even be able to appreciate the new handle I put on the pitchfork for the barn horses.
Let's hope the "good tractor" is on its way back to the ranch when I'm on my way to the airport.