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Tractors Can Get Stuck, Too

The worst-case scenario creates a cascade of woes.

| November 2019

Fields like this don’t reveal wet spots. Note how quickly the tractor got stuck (the front wheels didn’t make one complete revolution).

Like most Farm Collector readers, I have been reading farming publications almost forever. What interesting things to read about! There is one subject, however, that I can’t ever remember reading about: Getting tractors stuck. That isn’t too surprising, given that tractors are designed to pull things. The idea of having one of those powerful machines stuck and immobile is almost hard to fathom. In fact, when something is stuck, it is a tractor that is summoned to correct the situation.

Fortunately, farm tractors are used conservatively and are not subject to situations where their abilities are compromised. In the past several decades, it is probably safe to say that the majority of tractors have been “shedded” whenever possible and are only out in the weather when needed for farm work. All experienced farmers know their operations and if there is a place that traction is marginal, those places are avoided. After all, a stuck tractor is about the most pathetic situation that can be faced. If what you usually use to pull things needs pulling, what do you do?

There are places, however, where Mother Nature doesn’t make her variations in soil conditions readily identifiable. A piece of land easily tilled at a given point in one year may be unworkable up to a month later in the next. The problem for a tractor driver is determining “is or isn’t it” dry enough to cross. Cutting out wet spots leaves the field only partially worked, a conundrum for today’s GPS. That is especially true in the wide-open spaces of Western America where dry land farming is practiced or where center pivot irrigation is utilized.

Some pieces of ground are obviously problematic. Low-lying land can be expected to be wetter than the land surrounding it. What is really exasperating are the many places that look “just fine” when, all of a sudden, the tractor driver discovers too late that they aren’t. Instantaneous action is needed to change direction as well as raise the implement out of the ground. Unfortunately, neither action usually makes much difference and before a couple shocked breaths can be taken, the tractor is mired and immobile.

Since it was such a large tractor, the White remained stuck for several days before three tractors near its size could be brought to the site (a couple were borrowed from neighbors). When hooked together, the three managed to drag it out.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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