Another Farm Tractor from Hell
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
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
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
I went to town, picked up my
battery charger, returned after dark, suited up again
and sprayed down the nest. Then I charged the
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
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
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.
Mike Hillman's 'The Farm Tractor for Hell'