Farm Hand Gets More Than He Bargained For
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Big mistake! The photo on the opposite page shows the road sign at the top. Unfortunately, it wasn’t there then but it probably wouldn’t have made any difference. Higher speed was his goal and he didn’t really think about the two fairly sharp corners that needed to be negotiated.
Initially he felt exhilaration, but he hadn’t gone far before he knew he was going too fast. He tried putting on the brakes. As anyone who’s driven a row-crop tractor knows, the individual wheel brakes — one on either side of the John Deere tractor’s platform — almost cannot be pushed simultaneously. While holding the wheel, the driver’s feet must be picked up at the same time and equal pressure applied to the separate brakes. Unequal pressure can yank the front end of the tractor around. His attempt at braking caused the tractor to swerve sideways but slowed it down not at all.
Pushed by the heavy hay baler, the tractor continued to gain speed. All my friend could do was hang on to the steering wheel and try to keep the tractor on the road. One can only guess how high a speed the terrified kid and the machinery he was transporting reached — but there’s a good chance a new world record was set. How do we know? Before reaching the bottom of the hill, the gear oil in the transmission sprayed into the air like Old Faithful through the shift lever slots in front of the driver.
After what seemed an eternity, the tractor reached the bottom of the hill. Just moments before it had seemed a sure thing the tractor and baler would overturn and be destroyed, but that didn’t happen. The driver too emerged unscathed but was covered head to toe with hot gear oil. The final 10 miles of the trip were blissfully uneventful. The kid had plenty of time to get cleaned up before the boss arrived. The young farm hand driver told him then that he thought that maybe the John Deere transmission “might be a little low on oil.” FC
A retired high school history teacher, Clell Ballard has worked on farms since he was in grade school. For more than 50 years he’s worked on his uncle’s hay and grain ranch during the summer. Currently they swath, rake and big bale 1,000 acres of dry land hay each summer. He also is a dealer of World War II-era military vehicles and parts. Contact him at (208) 764-2313 (and bear in mind that he lives in Mountain Standard Time) or by email at email@example.com.
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