Let me tell you something. If there is an easy way to learn things that are totally beyond your current realm of expertise, that shit does not happen on a farm. Or, for that matter, when you are building houses.
It may happen other places, but I suspect those places are also where chocolate cake has no calories and the daily post is delivered by unicorns. Which is to say, nowhere in my life. And you know what? Thank god for that.
Because, first of all, you’re talking to a girl who often goes head-to-head with (and occasionally gets her ass dragged across a field by) stubborn equines. The very last thing I think would be a good idea is to meet one with ten inch spike sticking out of its head. So there’s that.
I also recently had an in-depth philosophical discussion with a friend–the kind can only happen after you’re a couple of glasses in to a good bottle of wine– about winning the lottery.
I mean, dead sober, I hear “winning the lottery” and my brain immediately goes: solar panels, geothermal system, bigger tractor, pay off mortgage, buy the 30 acres adjacent to my property. Um. Tomorrow. When my brain is being a little less practical (and a little more hey-let’s-sing-a-song-about-power-tools-in-front-of-a-camera) I actually think that’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to me, and here’s why…
Saturday, this happened:
This is a picture of me, sitting on the back-hoe of the neighbors tractor, trying desperately to figure out how to lift the stabilizers because five minutes prior I drove through the fence without realizing they weren’t up all the way, and bent the hell out of one of my gates.
Let me go back a bit further and set the scene for you: It’s Saturday afternoon. The first day since fall that it hasn’t been an absolute punishment to be outside for more than seven consecutive seconds. The barn stall is ten-inches deep in muck which has finally thawed out enough that I can properly clean the barn stall.
This is a job that usually takes an hour and a half. I’m on hour four. I’ve noticed one of the donkeys has rain-rot and need to run into town for treatment supplies. I am literally covered in shit, and in something like two hours, a fantastically-bearded dude is coming over to my house because I’ve promised to cook him dinner.
On my last pass through the gate, one of the half-lowered stabilizers catches on the side of the fence and does its best to demolish it. I decide, you know what? I’ve operated heavy equipment before. I’m just going to jump on the back of this here tractor and raise those stabilizers back into place so I can leave the pasture without doing any more damage.
Twenty minutes later I’ve exhausted my very extensive vocabulary of swear words. The stabilizers have gone down, but no amount of switch-flipping or lever-jiggling will get them to go back up. The tractor is now stuck inside the pasture.
I google. I YouTube. I call my neighbor, who doesn’t answer. I swear some more. I consider how attractive the smell of manure is on a fifth date (they’ve got to learn sometime, right?) I spend a lot of time frowning at the stabilizers, considering how they work. Truth: I’m not much of a mechanic. (Yet.)
My neighbor finally calls me back and literally sounds three rattling breaths away from death, because he has pneumonia. I forbid him to come outside, but we talk through how the stabilizers normally work. I trace a hydrolic line back under the seat with his direction, and lo-and-behold, the line isn’t fully attached.
Well. That was easy.
And here’s what I learned… I learned a little about the mechanics of a tractor. About how if there’s a hydraulic component that will move in the “pressure’s off” direction, but not in the “pressure’s on” direction, it’s probably not a jamb or mechanical failure, but something in the system isn’t holding pressure. Next time something like this happens, I would immediately start looking for hydraulic fluid leaks. I’ll know to trace the lines back and check the connections. To check and make sure the thing supplying the pressure to those lines is engaged and working.
Saturday afternoon sucked. No doubt about it. And if I had lottery-winnings, I would probably buy a tractor that doesn’t break. When things get especially tough, or I’m in a time crunch (which is always) I would pay someone to come fix things, or help me out of a bind. And life would be easier for sure… but I wouldn’t know the things I know. I wouldn’t learn the real things that need to be learned, because those lessons are only really driven home when things get tough.
And, you know, I wouldn’t get to see my chickens acting like, well, chickens…
Because Nuggets hate tractors, apparently.
In the end, I’m not happy about these lessons while they’re being taught to me, but I don’t know what I’d be without them. Which is probably why you’ll never find me buying a lottery ticket.