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Another Farm Tractor from Hell

John Hofheimer
Hensley Arkansas (for now)

(John, whom, while I never meet, I can greatly sympathize with,  sent me his encounter with a 'Farm Tractor From Hell' after reading mine . . . needless to say, his story was too good not to share with everyone . . . Mike Hillman)

Having always aspired to drive a tractor to and fro, to and fro all day long in the field, I moved to the country in Arkansas, not far from Little Rock. While I'd operated the occasional John Deere, Farm-all cub, and 8-N, I'd never been the primary custodian of a tractor.

The most difficult thing I ever engineered was a BS degree, which spared me the indignities of trying to master a foreign language, and I'd only tinkered occasionally with a truck or car.

Most of my adult life, I've worked as a re-modeler, a writer, editor or photographer--with time out for life on an unsuccessful commune in the Ozarks (hence the tractor "experience").

Feeling claustrophobic shortly after moving to our farmette three years ago, I bought a Ferguson 30, circa '54. Like you, I though that bush hogging was grand fun--for a while.

But I suffered similar indignities. Most recently, my tractor battery was dead, so I swapped it with another I had charged a few weeks ago. It was, of course, dead--and my ex-wife had my battery charger in Little Rock. So I decided to work closer to the house with a lawnmower in the 100-plus degree heat. 

While clearing a few Sweetgum branches from the lawn in preparation, I stirred up a nest of yellow jackets, suffering only two stings en route to the house. I dressed in layers, and went back in the afternoon heat, hooded, gloved and goggled to locate the nest and mark it.

I went to town, picked up my battery charger, returned after dark, suited up again and sprayed down the nest.  Then I charged the battery.

Next morning I put in the fresh battery, started the tractor and got about four feet before something lugged the engine plumb down to quit. Turning around I discovered the bushhog dug in to the embankment, which didn't seem possible until I discovered my brand new $400 tire was flat. 

I dragged out my pitiful, tankless compressor and took to airing up the tire, figuring I'd plug the leak. That's when the compressor gave it's last gasp. So into Little Rock for a new compressor.

I returned, aired up the tire and discovered a serious leak from the valve stem. Jacked the tractor up with the trusty handyman, pulled the wheel and took it up the road the to service station. They fixed it the next day. I brought it home, remounted it on the

tractor and set off for long-overdue bushhogging in the orchard. Once that was finished, I started up the right side of the drive to the highway.

Upon reaching the highway, I noticed that the state hadn't been up the cut the right away lately, so I turned left and made my first pass along the highway. I had just finished that pass and was fixin' to turn back for a second pass when I noticed a 70-year-old man looking at me through the hole in his otherwise shattered driver's door window. I'd flung something into his window. Two hundred and sixty three dollars later, he was on his way and I firmed my resolve to move back to the city.

We've bought a derelict building by the Arts Center in a gentrifying neighborhood. I'm sure we won't have any more misadventures re-habbing that building and moving in.


Which reminds me, my tractor guy, who has developed a similar disdain of my tractor stewardship, assures me there is at least one other Jewish tractor guy in Arkansas.

Read Mike Hillman's 'The Farm Tractor for Hell'