Tractors Are Like Life

April 3, 2015

Tractors have gears.  I might not have known that a few years ago, and some of my city friends might not have known that as well…but it is true!  Tractors have gears and I don’t just mean forward and backward.  Most of my gear language knowledge comes from My Loving Spouse (The Brit).  When I learn vocabulary from him, I am never quite sure if I am speaking ‘American’, so there you go, that is my very own ‘disclaimer’.  The gears have ‘ranges’ too.  ‘Low range’ for slow and ‘high range’ for not so slow.  Except, here is the problem…everything is trial and error.  There are NO fancy dials (actually even the dials we do have don’t work), to say…Low Range=SLOW, although occasionally there is the voice of My Loving Spouse saying,

‘Why do you have it in that range?’

To which there is no real answer, because a lot of times I am not really sure which ‘range’ I am actually in.

Changing gears is a lot of fun too (enter sarcastic font here).  The gears don’t slide in like they do in a modern sports car (not that I’ve driven many of those) the gears grind like you’d expect on a tractor that is older than I am, here’s the math (56).  I mostly drive in whatever gear I can get my tractor into.

There is a gear called ‘road gear’.  Yep, that’s right it is for ‘fast’…for driving on the road…for getting from one field to another or for visiting your neighbor on your tractor.

What I have learned, is that tractors kick up a lot of dust-dirt-mayhem and it goes down the back of your shirt, on your neck and in your ears…so I always wear a hoody…with the hood up.  I also protect my seat…my seat, not the tractor seat.  The tractor seat is often wet and it is metal, so it is wet and cold…I try to never sit on the tractor seat without a barrier between me and it…usually an old cat food feed bag (feeding all those cats is good for something)!

Driving my tractor is good for my heart…it calms me down, it makes me feel productive and it is best when both my head and my seat are protected.  Every once in a while I accidentally put the tractor into ‘road gear’ (fast), when I don’t want ‘road gear’, I just want go-forward-sort-of-normal-gear and I get a big unhappy surprise, a bit of whiplash and I have to jump on the brakes, before I run into something.

Lately, that is how life has felt, as if I’ve been slammed into road gear when I wasn’t ready for it…or just didn’t plain old want it.  The truth is, I’m just doing my best with a bunch of old difficult gears.  Tractor driving is a lot like life!


help me to find the right gear…

keep the dirt out of my ears…

make a productive difference…

do what is good for my heart…

visit my friends…

and not run over or into much…



Ford Jubilee Tractor


Tractor Rescue

August 26, 2014

Tractor rescue…

I’d love to say, that we used our tractor to rescue someone/something in need, but alas…we needed to rescue the tractor.  Blue and I had been hired to mow a portion of a field covered in thistles and nap weed.  The cows in the field wouldn’t eat those items, so they needed to be mowed down.  I should have known we had a ‘problem’ as we (the gentleman who hired me and I) entered the field.  I asked him,

“Are there any ditches or problems I need to know about in the field?”

“Oh, no” 

Hmmmm, a field without ditches?  He was a very nice guy, but maybe didn’t know this field very well.  He then said to me,

“Oh, those cows are looking at me”…

“Don’t worry”, I said, “I like cows, they will be no bother.”  At this point, I was elevated to the current field ‘cow expert’, which should have alerted me to the fact that this could turn out badly.

I set off mowing thistles and nap weed and noticing that it was everywhere…not just one little corner, mowing away and doing a good job to stay out of the ‘ditches’ that did exist, when I drove through a green patch of grass and into what can only be described as a bog…and we were stuck….big time…Bad British word!

My Loving Spouse came to the rescue.  Using the front end loader he almost had Blue pulled out until the hydraulics on Blue quit working.  The people who had hired me to mow the field came out to see what was the problem and said,

“Wow…it sure is wet here!”.

End of Day one and a long walk over a wet field (with ditches) back to our truck to return home…tractor-less and maybe a few more Bad British words.

Day Two – My Loving Spouse went to work with a plan to pull it out after work, but we had thunder and lighting, choosing to leave it until we could fit in it late in the afternoon on Day Three.

Day Three – the field is now wetter…Bad British word.  The farmer next door has begun irrigating and the tractor that was in a bog is now in a pond.  With the hydraulics repaired, My Loving Spouse tries to use the front end loader to pull Blue out, but only manages to dig a big hole in front of Blue.  The abandoned fence posts we haul over to place in the hole do not help at all and we now have an even bigger problem and I am thinking this is not funny and even though this might end up as a blog-able moment, I am currently not having fun.

bogpc7We return home to devise a new plan and to have a gin & tonic.

Day Four more devising…very little gin…out to diner and I for one upgrade to enjoying a martini.

Day Five – My Loving Spouse secures a short-term rental for a track hoe, the rental place gave us a great deal so it only cost us three times what I am being paid to mow the field.  I do not think this is what ‘they’ mean about you have to spend money to make money.  One small hitch is that we need to pick it up…with our trailer…to the place where they do not rent trailers to me anymore.  Luckily, our neighbor The Fire Captain is happy to help pick it up and figure out how it works, as well as come out to the field for the ‘rescue’, because after all as he says, “It is a lot of fun, when it is not your problem.”bogpc9Team Rescue is off, including ‘A’, The English Sister, My Loving Spouse, The Fire Captain and me…Team Offspring declined to participate…sheesh, kids!  The fact that the truck started to over heat and the water pump go out on the way to the field which is across town was just…oh, well it could have been worse…Bad British word.  We do arrive and the setting is beautifully pastoral with The English Sister standing in a field, a herd of cows, lovely sky and a stuck tractor in a bog.bogpc5…and then…everything goes smoothly…the brush hog (large mowing tractor bit) is easily pulled out… giving me confidence that the current ‘plan’ might actually work.bog8The guys dodge around the frogs that have set up house around Blue and hook up cables and chains…bogpc3…fire up the engines again…and pull…bogpc2and out she comes….bogpc1The Fire Captain says those beautiful words to me, “Oh, boy, I can see how easy it was to get that stuck in there, I’ve done that kind of thing myself”.

Believe it or not, but we hook everything back on Blue and I return to the dry weedy part (with ditches) to mow the field.  Most of the rest of Team Rescue deal with the over heating truck and the loading of the rented track hoe.

I mow, mow, mow forgetting that my iPhone is in my back pocket, until it isn’t.  Bad British word.  I’ve nearly lost my phone twice this way, and now I am done for….  I am practically done mowing, pray a little and keep my eyes peeled!  I find it!  It was mowed!  The cover is toast….2014-08-26 07.49.39and the phone still works…and our friends and family say…”Brilliant” (a Good British Word)!

They are having great fun and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.



Bad British Word X ? =

April 2, 2014

Sometimes My Loving Spouse accidentally utters a ‘Bad British Word’. Tonight he might have done it a few times…  Now that it stays light out later, we can get a lot of work get into a lot of trouble after work.  When I got home, I began to drag the driveway.  (Yes, Southern California this is a real thing, which I will explain another day).  I was just getting into a good dragging mode on the quad, when our neighbor The Fire Captain came over.

“Would you like some help burning your ditch?”  Burning ditches is a spring time farm thing, kind of like ‘weeding on steroids’.  Instead of pulling all the dead brush and tumble weeds out of the long, long ditches, you can just set them on fire…and it is legal…even if you are not The Fire Captain.  It is a quick and easy way to tidy up the ditches prior to running the irrigation water in them this summer.  I was happy to stop dragging and go burn the ditch, because believe it or not, but sometimes ditch burning gets out of control and starts a fire and then the Fire Department has to come out.  I am a bit intimidated about the whole ditch burning thing, so having a trained professional there setting them on fire was kind of a relief.  Also, I wouldn’t be the one embarrassed, if the Fire Department had to come out.  My Loving Spouse came home from work and he could see the smoke from a way down the road.  He knew I was home and he knew ‘sometimes’ I don’t wait for his help before starting a project and he saw me and he saw the fire, but he missed seeing the Fire Captain…so he said a ‘Bad British word’….like I would be crazy enough to do something like that!

With the ditches safely burned we turned our attention to the project of the evening.  There is a small strip of land that borders our field that was not originally sold to us, but now has been and there is a long involved legal reason why for all of this, that has nothing to do with my tale.  The strip of land will square up our property and offer more feed for the herd.  It had become a tiny bit of a junk yard.  The old dry weeds have grown up high, and you cannot just set them on fire, so cleaning it out must be done carefully, to prevent running over old farm equipment.  We intended to let the herd clean up the field.  Step one was to begin fencing in a small portion for the herd to graze down.  My Loving Spouse had a plan and he assured me, it would be easy.

Step 1 was to haul an old heavy gate to the field using Blue and her front end loader.  This did go quite well.  That front end loader can lift and carry all kinds of stuff, so all he had to do was drive out of our field, over the ditch, then up into the strip of land.  Except…Blue went into the ditch and the blade on back of Blue dug into the ground and they were very stuck, very stuck actually, going no where…not forward..not backward…’Bad British Word’.  This is the kind of thing I usually do, so I was very understanding, mostly thinking to myself, (I am glad it is not me).  The blade was successfully removed and momentarily abandoned at the end of the field.  Back to gate installation, which went quite quickly and exactly as planned.

My Loving Spouse then decided to try to do a small careful bit of clean up in the strip, not part of the plan.  Their first discovery was an abandoned 12 foot chain harrow, which got drug out of the strip.  Then they found that they had a flat tire…’Bad British Word’.  Not wanting to leave Blue in the strip, My Loving Spouse drove it back to our field, where it got stuck in the ditch again…’Bad British Word’, possibly said more than once.  My trusty tractor Jubal was called to the rescue.  Jubal and I dragged Blue back into the field, carefully maneuvering around our blade, which we’d left on the first ditch mishap.

Once all tractors and farm equipment were back into our field I decided that it was time to plan dinner and call it a night…and the flat tire will be removed and fixed another day…’Bad British Word’.



Bringing Home Blue

January 21, 2014

My Loving Spouse looked at me last night and said,……

“Can you believe it??  We are a two tractor family!”

Yes, it is true.  Although my love for Jubal remains strong, a tractor even older than I am does have a few draw backs…so began the hunt for a ‘small’, ‘cheap’ tractor with a loader.  (L-O-A-D-E-R, as in very exciting to my men, jury out for me).  Blue is another Ford, but decades younger than Jubal at only about 30 years old.  Blue is pretty fancy, having a key to turn it on and a seat not made out of metal.

bluepicm1The loader I am told is going to really come in handy.  All I can think of right now however is that having that big old piece of metal at the front of the tractor where I cannot see it, could possibly make it easier to run into more stuff.  As far as the loader goes, having heard more than one man say, “Oh, that is good, it has orchard tires on it, which keeps it low to the ground, that’ll make it less likely to tip over”.  Uhmmmm, tip over?  Seriously? 

Blue does have a fancy steering turning ball thing, which I have already used and if you have or need one of these then you have a tractor that came complete with a very special word called ‘power steering’.  I’m sure some of my previous tractor-running-into-stuff driving might never have happened had I had ‘power steering’!

bluepicm2We got Blue home just as the sun was setting, preparing to take him off the trailer between our two barns.  Everything went as it normally does, Blue wouldn’t start.  (Bad British Word)  Did I mention it was cold…at least below freezing…and now dark.  My Loving Spouse and I managed to jump-start the tractor and get it off of the trailer without breaking anything.  We were trying to attach the blade so I could run it as soon as I got home from work, but of course we didn’t have all the pins and clips it should have come with…no worries, we had some…somewhere in the workshop.  It was then that our neighbor the Fire Captain showed up.  He had his flashlight out and was inspecting Blue.

“Oh, did he call you to come help?”, I asked.

“No, we just got home and I could hear the tractor running, so I knew you’d gotten a new one and had to come and check it out”.  I love farm men…they hear (literally) a ‘new’ tractor was in the neighborhood and had to explore, they are our closest neighbors, but…it is still not all that close.   I got to go inside and thaw out and My Loving Spouse had another male around to enjoy the wonders of big metal pieces of machinery, figuring out why it wouldn’t start (darn safety features) and The Fire Captain says that he really ‘likes it’ and it is ‘good, being so low, so it will be harder to tip over‘.



Tractor Envy

October 1, 2013

It is true…some of my friends have ‘tractor envy’.  Well, not Our Friend the Farmer, because he has a lot of tractors, but some of you do…especially my friends in California and especially if you’ve had a chance to drive Jubal (our Ford Jubilee tractor just slightly older than I am).  I know…I understand…tractor driving is gardening therapy on steroids.  I’ve even received tractor gifts, you can tell I use this coaster from the morning coffee rings it has collected.



However, this post is not about me, it is about you…and coming clean….those of you who will admit to having tractor envy…because it is true…’we are only as sick as our secrets’ and because…this is your chance!!!  I’ve found you your very own Jubal!  All you have to do is make an offer!



That is it!  You too can own a Jubal and drive it and be happy…because let me tell you…tractor driving will just make you smile and smile.  This baby is all freshly painted and ready to go, if I could justify ‘his and her’s’ tractors, I’d be making an offer, but a tiny bit of self-control remains, so I’ve passed this opportunity along to you.  Isn’t she pretty?  I’ll happily pick her up for you.



I know those of you in my hometown have a significant lack of drive thru Starbucks…but wouldn’t I love to see one of you rolling through ‘In n’ Out Burgers’ on this baby!

PS: Don’t think that an opportunity like this comes along everyday!  Most farmers do NOT get rid of anything because they have the room to keep it and well…they might need it.  They especially do not get rid of tractors, which I totally understand, so if you want it…well, you’d better get busy and make an offer!


The North 4 and My Phone

March 5, 2013

I spent the morning out on the North 4 leveling dirt from high spots and filling up an old trench.  All Jubal and I did was drag dirt from one spot and fill it in at another spot, readying the pasture for grass seed for the horses.  I’d been working for about an hour, the pasture was looking so much better and the trench was filled, so it was of course then that I noticed that my iPhone was not in my pocket.  I knew what had happened, it had slipped out of my back pocket and went into the dirt.  The same dirt I was studiously moving about the pasture.  It had to be somewhere buried in the North 4.  Blast!  I was sort of in that stunned, how could I do this state.

photo (44)


I went into the house in shock hoping I’d find it sitting innocently next to the coffee maker, but no such luck.  In the bathroom?  The laundry room?  Under the Damn Cat?  No, it was certainly buried and buried really, really well in deep, rich, dark brown dirt and old cow poop.

How was I going to alert the Masses that I was now unable to receive their many texts and phone calls?  We don’t have a land line and of course I’ve forgotten everyone’s phone numbers anyway, so even if I had an old-fashioned phone it would be little more than useless.  My big plan was to email Number Two son in Brooklyn, NY to have him text My Loving Spouse back here in Ellensburg, WA about this dire situation and for him to not worry, that the reason I was not returning his messages, did not indeed mean I’d fallen off my tractor or anything deadly, just regular, plain stupidity.

Shoot!  I had done such a good job tractoring too!  (And yes, spell-checker, tractoring is a word!!)

I was nudged to go out one more time on foot and look for the phone.  I said to myself, “But it doesn’t work this way…”

I walked around the lovely flat dirt feeling ever so stupid….

It was nowhere, of course… it was buried and the next owner would find it in about 20 years, when they are tractoring the North 4 and wondering what kind of fool buried an iPhone.  Then out of the corner of my eye in a small hole with horse poop was a flash of pink…unbelievable…my phone.

photo (45)

…and I was ever so thankful for the second chance (okay, third chance.. I did almost run it over with the tractor once) and I have learned my lesson!!  No phones in back pockets when tractoring… perhaps I will leave it in the house…near the coffee maker… or even under the Damn Cat.


Egg drop

I dropped my first egg.  Darn it.  It was one of those days.  I was in a bit of a funk and the egg just slipped out and went…splat. I’ve applied for the same job twice and finally got to the interview process last Friday.  This job makes me excited, and I think it would […]

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Tractors and trees

To say we have a small orchard would be an exaggeration.  What we have is an old apple tree with no fruit, 3-4 trees bearing what we believe to be plums, 5-6 trees that have no ‘plums’, an ample supply of suckers shooting up out of the ground that are nothing more than glorified weeds.  Cleaning […]

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Jubal, our tractor

Moles are a pain in our tractor seat.  They are surprisingly only a little bit bigger than a mouse, but uglier (which is saying something as I do not find mice ‘cute’ in anyway).  I saw one on the move yesterday and could tell it was a mole not a mouse as it was burrowing […]

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