Posts Tagged ‘tractor’

This past week I watched as a farmer harvest his soybean crop in the neighboring field. I grabbed my camera and took a video as he roared past me, kicking up the usual intense dust storm, which always comes out of a soybean harvest.


The grey heavy dust had me coughing and teary eyed, I made a fruitless attempt to blink away the haze and itch behind my eyelids.

As I watched, twigs and rocks spray back onto the shaved off field.  The harvester moved slowly, roaring past me. 

Holding the camera in my right hand I waved with my left and the farmer waved back. I could barely see him between the dust and the darkness inside the cab.


Vibrations from the massive John Deere Harvester rippled under my feet. The tractor’s size and close proximity, passing a few feet/meters in front of me- reminded me of a charging elephant in a Tarzan movie.   


Add in a sunset and lengthening shadows.  Then toss in a thick, grey swirling dust cloud that quickly encompassed the world. 

 I could feel the hair rise on my neck. This scene had an eerie feel…  

I kept thinking something bad was about to happen.


Guess I’ve been watching too many horror movies…? Too close to Halloween..?


Uriah kept rolling his eyes and pacing. Finally, he gave up trying to get me to move away from the fence and walked back to the house.  Smart dog!


From across the field, on the end of ‘Bob’s’ property, I saw a flicker of light.


I headed up on the deck to get a better view.  I saw flames shooting up illuminating an old Oak tree that sat at the backend of his property. Not quite on ‘Bob’s’  land. It belongs to the farmer. 


 I haven’t lit a fire for a couple of months.

This summer’s air may have water soaked, but the ground and foliage has been very, very dry.  Dangerously dry!


I watched the flames licking at the lower tree branches and then blazed higher. Orange, red and yellow flames reached up into the branches, so bright I could make out each limb.  I was positive that tree was toast! 


About fifty feet, to the north, is a cornfield.  A very dry, not yet harvested- cornfield.


The farmer’s tractor’s lights glowed white; I noticed a second tractor in that field. I have never seen a soybean field stripped that fast. I wondered, if they were worried that fire?


When I couldn’t stand on the deck and breathe, I headed inside.


By midnight the air had cleared.


The fire was out, it hadn’t spread. (Add sigh of relief here)

Still today I am wondering, “What was that guy thinking- lighting a fire when a field was being harvested?”


Any thoughts on this?


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The air is still hot and heavy with moisture. Add to that a mixture of bug sprays, chemicals and manure, spread across the fields by plane or tractor. At that point, breathing becomes an inflexible process.

The skies this morning were blue, then deep, dark angry grey that rumbled and barked, spitting out streaks of light, then changing back to blue.

I took Uriah out for his morning walk by sitting on the front step and waving him off. With a happy wag of his tail he headed to the pond where he startled some ducks and blackbirds.  As I waited for him to return I was bombarded by annoying mosquitoes. 

Uriah took his time. So I just stared out over the field grass and watched it grow.

I had the tractor running a couple of weeks ago. It had roared to life, with as much exuberance as Uriah running to the pond.

*If you didn’t get that reference, well, Uriah walks slowly sticking his head in every hole sneezing and rolling in everything that smells bad… The tractor coughed, wheezed, chugged and rolled, jerked and smelled bad…

I checked and filled the tires, added water and oil. Brushed off the cutting deck and oiled anything that moved. Once I pulled her out of the barn I decided to move that downed tree.

I was very careful..

Before I took her on the path, I stopped the engine and walked the area, poking at the ground.  I didn’t want to get stuck in heavy mud, or caught up on a stump.     I backed into the path and tried to get as close as I could to that tree.   Driving backwards is not within my tractor maneuvering ability, so it took me a while.

Satisfied I wasn’t going to be stuck in the mud; I turned off the engine and gracefully slipped off the seat unto a wild rose bush.  Ouch!

Finally I was able to wrap the chain around the back hitch and around the middle of the tree.

Once back in the driver’s seat I slowly moved forward, dragging the tree not forward but sideways, just as I planned. The trees roots were facing south and its upper branches to the north. I could only move it a few feet, or it would get caught up on the Bog Willows.  

Slowly I inched forward.

Uriah was watching me from the edge of the path. As soon as I made my first lurching movement his tail disappeared between his legs and he ran towards the house. Smart dog! He remembered when that same chain broke free from the last tree I moved and went flying, taking out some branches. I had found it hanging in a tree some fifty feet away.

I hesitated for a moment and watched Uriah run. For a second, I debated what I was doing and thought that maybe this wasn’t a good idea…

That lasted for a minute.

Then I set the tractor in forward motion, slowly the chain went taut. I was very surprised when the tree moved off the path and ended up right where I wanted it to be, top facing west and roots to the East.

Nothing tried to bite me. I didn’t get the tractor stuck in the mud. The best part, I didn’t see one tick! 

I removed the chain from the hitch. Then I put Uriah in his outside kennel. And came back to cut the path, I was tempting fate by not walking the path first.. But even that turned out well,   so well in fact I took Uriah out for a walk..

A walk that ended with us being chased by a few angry Bumble Bees, luckily they only sting if cornered…

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The barn has a black shingled roof, with white and beige metal walls.  The frame is made of heavy wooden beams.

 It still surprises me, at how cold the inside of the barn can get. I guess it’s due to all those metal walls.   

Every fall my red, Case Hydro 234, tractor is set in a dry place in the barn where she waits for spring.

Last year was the first year I forgot to check the tractors’ radiator fluid…

Last year, the radiator fluid, in my tractor froze, and ruptured the coolant drain plug.

Now here we are in the middle of winter, and I forgot to drain the antifreeze, again…

Earlier in fall I should have drained the radiator of water and antifreeze, and then replaced it with full strength antifreeze. That would prevent the water from freezing and damaging the tractor. The water pump, radiator, crankcase, and engine block.

Last winter, I lucked out; the coolant drain plug broke before the engine block cracked.

This morning I stood outside the barn in over a foot of snow and knocked on the over head door. That was my professional attempt to ‘un-stick’ the bottom of the door from the ice.   With a tug, I was able to slide the door up.  I stepped inside the barn. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be.  Last winter the temperatures dropped so low, the inside door was covered in frost.   

“Hey old girl” I always greet my tractor and my computer in the same way. No worries, the computer never comes out to the barn.

I opened the hood and checked the radiator.  The fluid was low. I grabbed a bucket, with the intent on draining off some of the antifreeze.  I planned on adding new fluid at full strength, once it was drained.  That was the plan.  Except, I couldn’t open the drainage plug!  I gave up, and made sure the radiator was topped off.   I was very careful not to touch the antifreeze liquid, or spill any. It is very poisonous. I didn’t want Uriah lapping it up. 

In a feeble attempt to keep the tractor warm, I grabbed some bubble wrap, and placed it around the engine.  Then I closed the hood. 

I walked back to the garage and grabbed all the newspapers I could find.  On the way out of the garage I added in a piece of tarp to the pile of newspapers.  

Back in the barn, I covered the hood of the tractor with the newspapers.   Then I set the tarp over the newspapers. I stepped back and sighed. What I really needed, was a blanket. The only one I could think of was Uriah’s.  

I looked over at Uriah. He was nosing around in the corner; he had found some dried grass and was pushing it around.

“Hey Uriah! Are you willing to give up your blanket, so I can cover the tractor?”

Uriah took a couple of steps towards me. He watched my hands anticipating a treat. When he didn’t see any appearing, he shook his head so his ears flapped.

“Oh! Come on! You don’t believe I would take your blankey? ”  

His eyes went from my face to my hands. Twice!  I reached in my pocket and pulled out a milk bone and tossed it to him.  

 I just hope this winter the tractor doesn’t freeze.

This past spring I had to send the tractor out to be fixed. After it was brought back I had trouble with the electrical wiring.  When I turned off the engine, the headlights came on and wouldn’t shut off. I disconnected the lights. Problems solved sort of…

Add to list, check electrical wiring!

I need to head to the truck stop; they may have an engine blanket, if there is such a thing…

I tried to use the tractor, only once, to plow snow.  That was the winter of 1999. Diesel tractors hate cold! So, I bought a heater to warm her up. Even with the heater, I could barely start the engine.

For some reason, I forgot that those big tires slip easily on wet grass and mud.  In a deep snow during a blizzard it was terrifying!  I tromped off to the store and priced out chains for the tractor’s tires.   After I learned how to install them, I decided to get a snow blower from Sears instead…

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Beautiful day!  Skies are clear, very little wind; temperatures are mild, in the mid fifties.

 Uriah was the first to notice the farm equipment pull into the field next door. He freaked! He climbed on the deck and cowered on the north side, farthest way from the equipment. 

The corn in the southern field was finally being  harvested. I stood outside and watched as the large tractor moved slowly into place. I could see the farmer in the cab and a child.

Farmer’s children will help them with the harvesting.  They watch for problems as their parent harvests the crops.The cab they sat in was sealed, heated and air-conditioned.

The winds were blowing away from me, so as the tractor passed by most of the dust spread out to the south.

Just as I thought, “Wow,  I am lucky the wind isn’t blowing in this direction.” The wind changed!  I started coughing, and blinking rapidly as the dust settled in over my head.

I choked out Uriah’s name and we headed towards the path to take a walk. The trees in that area blocked some of the harvesting dust. Well, sort of..

I crossed my fingers that the farmer would only be working on the lower part of the field at this time. I smiled, when I saw him hit the half way point near the drainage tiles and turn around.

 Uriah and I stopped sneezing long enough to watch the harvester.

With all the bare fields, the animals have been congregating in our trees. Last night, every hour, I was yelling out the doors for the coyotes to leave. There must have been close to a dozen howling and yelping very close to the house.

Coyotes don’t understand windows.  So, I had to insure the indoor cats stayed away from the glass. I really didn’t have to worry; they hid under the bed when the howling started.

Uriah, on the other hand, was whining and barking wanting to chase them. A dog barking won’t keep coyotes away from the house. It has the opposite effect. So, between trying to calm down Uriah, petting the cats and yelling at the coyotes, it was a fun night.

Halfway through the walk, Uriah disappeared with hackles raised, into the trees. Stupidly I walked in after him, calling and getting tangled in leafless under brush. After a short time, I headed back to the house. When Uriah reappeared  his tongue was trailing on the ground.  

The farmer took a lunch break and finished the back half of the field; I stood out on the deck and enjoyed the view.

This scene has to be a little boy’s dream.  A large tractor harvesting corn slowly chopping, crunching, and roaring through a field, as an equally large dump truck waits to be filled with the corn; such an impressive, unobstructed view of a real mid-western farm life.  

I love it out here.

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corn harvesting At dusk tonight, around 4:40pm, I was standing at the back of the path,  looking out over the corn fields. I could see the farmer’s very large tractor slowly moving in the field, that bright John Deere green cutting a path as it harvested the dried corn. An equally large, green truck waited close by for the corn to be loaded. 

That sound, a whirling roaring, scream that tractors make, came at me in waves slipping on the wind, it sounded similar to those monster, sound effects in the old, ‘Lost in Space’ TV show.

My dog sat at my feet, his nose lifted up as he sniffed the wind. It was quiet, except for a few crows that flew past in a huff.

At that point, I suddenly missed the sounds the Robins made at sunset.  I don’t know when it happened, but they all flew south for the winter.

Last winter, the only winter I can remember I spotted a Robin hopping around in the snow, his red breast contrasted beautifully against the pure white snow. I thought maybe his direction finder was off kilter.

 So, I checked on line and found that- Robins rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to show them the way home, to food, to warmer weather.  I really wish I could tap in to that field. I get lost in my living room.

 I thought of an article I had written for a class. It was about electromagnetic fields disrupting bees, birds and our bodies on a cellular level. I find it sadly interesting how everything is connected, except when profit comes into play…

I turned to Uriah. “Here Boy, have a milk bone.”
Uriah pulled himself up, and wagged his tail, while crunching on his treat. He looked over his shoulder at the dark trees.

Squinting at the shadows, I smiled. “I got the message, let’s head back home.”  I rubbed his face with both hands.

He loved it so much; he started to bump his entire body against my legs, nearly knocking me off balance. I gave him a playful shove. He smiled back at me and waddled fast towards the house.

“Chickens also orient themselves by the Earth’s magnetic field”



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fall sky and trees

A perfect autumn day, when I was a kid this was called “Indian summer.” When the temperatures rise so all I need is a sweater. This is as close to perfect weather as I can hope for.

I walked around the path, watching the ground and hoping to avoided raccoon scat, muskrat holes and sticks. I kicked up the leaves; they were curled and dried crunching with each step.

The mud on the low end of the path was easier to walk over today, not as slippery as yesterday. Green grass was making an attempt grow, not only on the edges of the path but directly in the center. I took advantage of that new growth using it as stepping stones.  

I checked out the prints in the mud, my dogs, raccoons and deer, and small rat feet.  That deer must be heavy, his hooves sunk deep in the mud. My shoes hardly sunk in at all.  The marks I left would be the same if I had walked on pavement with wet shoes.

I set off up and to my right. I noticed that the farm to the south hasn’t been harvested. That farmer has been out at night for the past week. Early Saturday morning around two- thirty, he was in the fields to the north.   

I stopped and listened to the rustling, dried corn stalks.  Tall beige grasses moved around me in the warm breeze. Rustling, crackling, a branch squeaked over head.  

Walking amid the dry grass, I could imagine others who passed through here over the centuries. Did they pause and listen to this sound of autumn?  Were they in a hurry to gather the last of the seeds, fruits and vegetable storing them for a long winter? Or, did they pass through, taking with them dreams of the tall grass and rustling warm breezes.  Maybe they weaved corn husk dolls, and canned fruit.

A faint buzzing and humming sound drifted my way. The farmer was out in his fields. Sounds drifted to me from the south. I hope that he doesn’t cut this field today; I wanted to keep the windows open.   Dust will spread out from his tractor, and spread all over the house, if I don’t close all the windows.

I hesitated and listened. Crows flew noisily overhead. To my right there was movement in-between the trees. A young buck saw me; startled he started to run, and then changed his mind, and sauntered into the thicket. I smiled and nodded.

 The farmer is still too far away. I have time to enjoy my morning walk. I may even have an hour or two to air out the house.

In this moment, I closed my eyes listened to the past drifting through.

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