Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Voyage of the New Holland

OK, it's official.  We are all farmers.  All my guys work in agriculture.  My children were all in FFA.  My grandparents were farmers.  My mother tried her hardest to get all the farmer out of me, but I'm still happiest barefoot and with dirt under my fingernails.  So this next story should not come as a surprise.

When it was time to cut our hay the first time around the swather was non-functional.  Knowing that swathers are expensive, I asked my husband how he planned to fix it.  His response--drive the tires under a new one.  So they have been looking for a new swather for some time.  Naturally not brand new, just new to us.

Brent found a swather for sale at our local New Holland dealership.  Eveyone went and looked at it and pronounced it perfect.  Brent was able to get financing and last Friday he went to pick it up.  I somehow got roped into helping to flag on the trip to the field.  For those of you who don't know, flagging is when you drive either in front or behind a large piece of equipment with a yellow flashing light and a huge sign proclaiming "oversize load" at a rather reduced rate of speed.  Lots of fun!

We all met up at the dealership where Brent had somehow managed to acquire a trailer to aid in the effort to get the swather to the hay field.  The first adventure was trying to get the swather on the trailer.  It went up the ramps slowly, settled into the first wheel slots and stopped.  After some back and forth it finally crawled up the next ramp and settled into place.  Then, of course, everyone had to take pictures and congratulate each other on such a fine purchase.

Finally, the lights were in place and the signs were up.  And here begins the second adventure.  The signs on the truck I was driving had been cobbled together quickly the night before and attached to the truck with C-clamps.  They wobbled alarmingly.  However, everything seemed to be in place, so we proceeded.  The swather and trailer started out creaking and groaning and wallowing much like a ship at sea.  The turn-arounds were somewhat alarming, but we managed to get through.

The fun began when we actually got on the highway.  We had not even gone a hundred feet when there was this awful racket.  I looked out to see my "oversize load" sign flapping wildly around with one of the posts completely loose and trailing dangerously behind.  I quickly stopped before anything could be damaged.  Obviously, the brackets weren't going to work.  What to do?  Meanwhile, the swather is blissfully travelling away from us and our radio wasn't functioning to inform Brent of the fact that we were stopped.

I managed to get the sign unscrewed from the posts and finally decided the best thing to do would be to attach it to the tailgate with baling twine.  We did this and then proceeded to rush down the highway in search of our wayward swather.  Brent, in the meantime, is trying to get me on the phone while the only thought in my head is to catch up with the rest of my caravan.  We finally caught up with them some fifteen miles down the road.

The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful.  The narrow bridge doesn't count and everyone managed to fit just fine.  It was when we went to unload that things again began to be interesting.  The swather would go so far and then refuse to climb out of the wheel slots.  Finally, the front flagger got out a large chain, attached it to the swather and proceeded to pull.  The swather followed, the trailer followed, and the truck towing the trailer followed...After watching this for some time I finally decided that maybe some judicious application of brakes on the truck would keep everything from following.  This actually did the trick and the swather then docilely drove off the trailer.  The final  assessment was that it would have been easier to drive the swather rather than tow it on its nifty trailer...