Teats or Tires

I vividly remember as a child, the old adage being bandied about by parents and grandparents. “If it has teats or tires, it’s going to give you problems.” This was usually followed by knowing looks, wry smiles of agreement and understanding, usually on the faces of men. I recall being instantly filled with righteous indignation at the thought that such a chauvinistic statement would be so widely accepted. Or tolerated. My female family members in particular, were made up of some of the strongest stuff I’ve ever known to this day. What in blazes did they mean by that? And why wasn’t Mom Mom telling Pop Pop all about himself?

Over my years of adulting, I’d have to say I now understand that’s because there was more truth to the matter than I cared to admit, especially on the tires end. It’s no coincidence that men tend to name vehicles and boats and equipment in the feminine. They have a love/hate relationship with these objects, they don’t understand the internal workings until they’ve seen it fall apart and put it back together, they require maintenance and care to in turn, take care of you. Oh, dear God…they just might be be women. Maybe it’s not an insult after all.

I have seen mechanical marvels put childlike smiles on the faces of the most stoic of men, and I have seen those same men reduced to near tears of frustration and fits of cursing and rage totally out of character by motors and transmissions. Or even a stuck lug nut. I nearly saw it yesterday on the face of a complete stranger. In fact, everyone in our world knows, you do not, I repeat DO NOT go near my Tony when he’s working on a vehicle. He hates it with a blinding fiery passion from the word go, so you just give him a wide berth when he’s forced to turn a wrench. 20160306_162956.jpg

The Fergbeast has long been the bane of my existence. She has not run for more than 20 consecutive minutes during my 6 year tenure here, she has sat visibly mocking me as I have paid and bartered with neighbors to come till our vegetable plot, and tried to till an acre and sweated off twenty pounds and my sanity with a walk behind tiller. She has caused countless tense moments and discord and my respect for the grand old lady she likely once was has withered into a seething resentment.

On Friday, T had talked to a tractor dealer about a two hour hike away. They had a trade in that they were selling at a budget friendly number. They’d give us a trade allowance on old Fergie here for parts. It seemed a solution to our tractor problem was imminent. There was much excitement. Yesterday morning, a phone call was made. The intended purchase had been sold.

I cried. I ugly cried. Snot, sniffling, sobbing. Then did what I do best. Sucked it up and looked for another solution. Craigslist, auctions, online forums. Tony started making calls to other dealers.

I found one suspect, nearby, in an online ad. About a thousand dollars more than we were looking to spend. The suspect part came in where the ad had been up for a couple of weeks, at a price well below market worth. It’s spring and these things usually go fast. So a couple of calls were made. One to the owner, and one to T’s boss to make sure he had access to the extra funds if necessary.

However, we weren’t holding out much hope. So being as Fergie was already on the borrowed trailer, off we went to our tinkering neighbor for a tractor triage and see whether she could be forced to cough out another year’s work or we simply needed to have a junkyard funeral.

He seems to think he can fix her. Maybe. Even if the timing can be straightened out, she long before had a problem with the steering box being completely sheared off. It was driveable, but only if you wanted to feel as if you’d gone ten rounds with the champ afterward.

He did, however, point us in the direction of a man who fixes his when he can’t and peddles a few that have been fixed up. So, off we went with Fergie still on the trailer. This next gentleman, bless his heart, was painfully honest. When asked if he had anything suitable for our needs, he said he had one, but it blew through oil like Grant took Richmond, wasn’t likely to be a reliable solution, and we’d be better off trying to fix the Fergbeast.

We told him what we were going to go look at and the price. He advised us, sight unseen, what to look for in it, and that if those conditions were met, to snap it up at that price, anything else would be fixable on a budget. Unload the Fergie in the front yard, he’ll see what he can do with her, and should we end up with another tractor, he could sell her for more than trade allowance. We bid the beast a hasty goodbye and made tracks before he could change his mind.

So, we’re off again and arrangements are made to meet the man with the ad. We found him valiantly trying to get her started where he left her after bush hogging a huge field in late fall behind his friend’s auction house. She’s not getting any fuel and the men doing men things like head scratching and getting fuel all over themselves quickly figured out that there was silt in the fuel filter bowl from sitting. 20160307_152742.jpg

Some wrenches were turned, the offending smut was drained and suddenly a part roughly the size of a small paperclip would not go back where it came from. The threaded portion had broken, I guess protesting being pulled off, as old things are prone to do.  This little paperclip sized doohickey is apparently not something that can be replaced on the spot, but was something that could be temporarily fixed by a mancritter plugging its hole with a fingertip long enough to start her up and verify that she does indeed start, run like a champ, and lifts that monstrous bush hog without any sign of strain (twice the size of our current one which is actually a finish mower).

These were the important things. Additionally, she can take a bucket on the front and pull our monstrous disc, which was too big for Ferg, (unless riding on two wheels is your thing) and will accept virtually any attachment we could conceive of throwing at her. (Think hay baler, Oh. My. Gosh.)

T wants her. I want her. This guy wants her gone. But without this tiny little piece, we can’t verify that she does everything that she’s supposed to do. He doesn’t even want to sell her to us until it’s fixed and we can do that. He wants her right. Which makes me feel infinitely better.

So we left, tractorless once again, after a 14 hour ride on an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.  But hopefully just for the moment. The doohickey paperclip piece is being ordered today, he’s planning to fix and even deliver her and we’ve settled on a price which was less than what he was asking.

I’m still holding my breath. Crossing my fingers… I may or may not be currently pricing buckets and haying attachments, and planting more starts… a girl can hope and pray.





Author: The Fun E Farm

We're a family in a tiny map dot called Frankford, DE, on 8 acres. I read waaaay too many homesteading books and articles and my heart's definitely in the right place, although it's not always commensurate with the ages old battle between the ambitions of a mere human versus the time on one's hands and the capabilities they possess. This blog is designed to chronicle our search for sustainability and sanity (which I'm not quite sure we ever possessed to begin with), working with what we have and whatever else we can put our broke-ass hands on. Now the disclaimers: If things that happen on a farm offend you, (i.e. POOP, the use of food animals for (gasp) food, birth, death, hunting, fishing, the occasional use of colorful (to put it politely) language, the participation of tiny humans in all of the above) well, then, suffice it to say, this may not be the place for you to spend any leisure time. This blog is not intended to be an instructional tool on how to do things correctly. More often, I can assure you, it will be more of a shining example of the "stuff we tried that was an epic failure of disastrous and occasionally comedic proportions" variety. If you haven't clicked the little "x" at the top right yet, read on, brave soul! Welcome to our crazy family!

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