Menaced by Mechanisms

I hate trucks.

I hate tractors.

I hate depending on machines that break.

Today the pickup truck’s transmission or transfer case (still undetermined) banged and then failed as I parked the borrowed stock trailer (our stock trailer has a gaping crack in the aluminum subframe) after a trip to the slaughterhouse. That’s also the plow truck, so it failed at an inopportune time. The only consolation was that the big bang happened as the truck was backing the trailer into the parking spot, not when it was out on the road in the middle of today’s snowstorm.

Just for catharsis, let me enumerate my current list of necessary equipment repairs. Doing this work in the gravel driveway is never fun, but repairing equipment outdoors in winter is the worst.

There are plenty of other repairs, but this is the hot list:

  • Pickup truck needs either a new transmission or a new transfer case. I think transfer case, but I’m not sure yet.
  • New tires on pickup truck so I can get the overdue inspection completed. It has a crack in the manifold (again!), but I think I can get through inspection with that.
  • Delivery van needs new ball joints on the left and a realignment. Also needs new front tires since the bad joints have worn the tires unevenly.
  • Delivery van shows some seepage on the differential. Need to see if it has lost any fluid.
  • Minivan needs a new alternator. The head gasket is leaking oil onto the alternator. So it really needs a new head gasket.
  • Tractor is overdue for a fluid change.
  • Tractor has a crack in the quick attach bracket that needs to be welded. Now that I’m using it for pushing snow because the plow truck is disabled, I need to be careful not to overstress the broken weld.
  • Tractor’s seat sensor froze and failed. I’ve got it hotwired, but I need to replace the safety sensor.
  • Tiller I use to stir the chicken bedding has a bad tire that needs a tube.
  • Hen’s feed wagon has an ancient mobile home tire that is off the rim. Need a new tire.
  • ATV needs a lot of work – fix 4×4 switch, replace front ball joint, fix brakes, figure out coolant overheating problems, etc. I can procrastinate a little on this, but it needs to be in good running condition by spring since Rachel uses it every day for hauling fences and other grazing supplies.
  • Evaporator fan in one of the walk in freezers is broken. There’s a second fan on the coil, but I need to get the broken one fixed.

In a well-managed business I’d focus on doing farm work and I’d hire mechanics to fix things. I really ought to get to that point. But it is hard to pay mechanics $90 per hour when the farm still hasn’t turned a profit or paid us a cent. I have a feeling that practicing the behaviors of successful businesses even if I don’t have a successful business might help me get to a successful place with my business.

Still, it is hard to accept that I’m at the point where I can’t do all my own work if I also hope to have the time to do all the other farm work. I’m stuck on this as part of my self-identity. Honestly, building a farm from scratch seems to be more about giving up on hopes and dreams than it is about living the dream. Perhaps that’s the downer view from a nadir vantage, but that’s about the way things seem to measure up on days like this.

4 Comments on “Menaced by Mechanisms

    • They have a way of doing that. I’m always amazed at the amount of mechanization on some farms, and I wonder at the level of stress farmers face when they are working with millions of dollars worth of planting or harvesting equipment. Here we’re just dealing with a few general purpose trucks and a utility tractor, and it hard to keep these few things running. I can’t imagine depending on super-specialized equipment when there is a time crunch.

    • Any chance to barter farm goods for repairs? One owner of an excellent garage in Canjo has a new granddaught who I bet he’d love to raise on fresh local foods…

      • I’m open to bartering, although regular payments are often easier to keep the accounting straight. But sure…

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