Saturday, 26 April 2008

One Girl Went to Mow

Went to mow the meadows,

One girl and her big red tractor,

Went to mow the meadows.

Yes folks today was get the big fields mown day. Since the tractor hadn’t been used since ploughing a good few weeks back it was a main check over for that, oil, fuel, grease front transmission joints, grease PTO, check hydraulic fluid etc. I also greased all the rotating joints on the lift system. After that I turned my attention to the topper; that hasn’t been used since the end of last autumn. A bit of grease on all of its lift joints and then I needed to attach the lift mechanism so I could lift it up and look underneath and oil around the blades.

Usually this takes me half an hour or so but today it only took a few minutes, I was really impressed with myself. After oiling the blades and greasing the rotor that fits onto the PTO it was time to connect the rotor to the PTO so that the blades would turn.

Would it go on; no way, I tried and tried, I checked the catches were opening but it just refused to fit. I thought back to last year and remembered I had a problem one day but it had then fitted after I had to move the tractor, which in turn rotated the PTO. I started up the tractor and engaged the PTO, disengaged the PTO and turned off the tractor. It still wouldn’t fit so another ten minutes ensued while I fought to get it to fit, all the time getting greasier. Why is it I inevitably pick my lightest coloured clothing to wear on a day like this? I decided to spin the PTO again; start tractor, engage PTO, disengage PTO, switch off tractor. This time it worked, everything lined up perfectly and the rotor slipped onto the PTO really easily.

By now it was mid-day and I was sweating like mad from wrestling the rotor so decided to break for lunch rather than get an hour or so mowing before lunch. The main reason was to cool down a bit. The tractor cab is enclosed with glass and in the sunshine it gets rather warm in there. I find when I’m overheating I make mistakes, not the best scenario when out on the tractor.

After lunch I set off for the 3-hectare paddock; on the first cut I managed to scalp the field in two places. It’s been so long since I’ve cut the field I had totally forgotten that up the first edge there are a couple of dips that are just right to bottom the cutter. You go into the first dip and it bounces you into the second. Never mind, I can seed it again and it’s only two very small areas. I also wear ear defenders in the tractor and I find that I don’t react as quickly to the cutter catching the ground as without because I just don’t hear it.

There were more problems to follow; as I cut the first length along the top of the field I came to a patch that was wet. The reason I know it was wet was because the tractor started to slide sideways down the hill, gouging a channel with the topper, even though the tractor was in 4WD. The patch was only about 2 meters long so I was very quickly on firm ground again.

Before anyone tells me, I know that you work fields up and down the slope to stop tractors rolling over but you do need to cut a border too. There was one other short area that gave a little problem but nothing much. Once the border was in I then started up and down the field at the southern end. View on the way down, the weird line to the left of the front of the tractor is a reflection on the glass windscreen.

The grass there was very tall and also had a couple of areas of rapeseed that I was particularly keen to cut before it re-seeded its self. In total I sprung 3 hares from there, this is the 3rd one making a dash for the border at the top of the field.

I managed to get the majority of the field cut, it turns out there are quite a few small wet areas and when I started to tear up the field I knew it was time to stop. Once it dries a bit more, I’ll have to go up with the spade and level where the tractor slipped and then cut the remaining area.

Having finished there I headed for the 2-hectare field where I’ve started creating the wood. Last year it had a really good crop of thistles; this year I don’t want to let the same thing happen. Last year I had problems with the tractor and I also was much more nervous about using it. I’m sure my neighbour will appreciate the lower weed seeding in his adjoining field. Whereas he is happy to weed kill his field before planting again I am not so it should also reduce the weed burden in my adjoining 5-hectare cereal field.

I didn’t take pictures of the finished fields until about half past eight so they are a little dark but you can just about make out the uncut areas at the top of the 3-hectare field in this one.

This is the 2-hectare field; the new wood is at the top of the field behind the 3 poplars. The area of long grass to the right of the picture going up to the pond is a marsh area that I wish to keep as a wildlife area. I need to dam the breach in the pond but will channel the pond overflow back into this area. Along the left, between my field and my neighbour’s wood I’ve left a wildlife corridor. I’ve seen a hare in the field and a pair of deer has taken up residence in my neighbour’s wood. I’m really pleased about that as I’d not seen any deer for ages and wondered if they had all been shot during the hunting season. Whether I’ll still be happy to see them if they start eating my new trees remains to be seen.

I really should go to bed now but a day of sitting in the tractor leaves me shaking slightly, nothing to do with fear but just the vibration and the noise. The seat is sprung but older tractors are not known for the comfort of their ride and the noise even with the ear defenders is rather all encompassing. I usually spend the night dreaming and feeling I’m still in the tractor.


Georgina said...

I'm coverting your tractor! We only have a kubota lawm tractor, as J-P does the bigs stuff for us. It's only 4 weeks till the hay is cut. I love your decription of attaching the topper. Nothing is ever simple is it. Debs

aims said...

Are you sure you're not a guy?

How on earth did you learn all this stuff? Were you born on a farm?

My god Deb - I'm open-mouthed with wonder!

dND said...

Debs, I was looking at my hay field and thinking I really need to get the things to make hay with. Another job to add to the list and then learn how to make good hay!

Aims, Very definitely female, no upper body strength and a mind that wanders off all over the place!

No links to farming but I've always believed in learning about things around you. Thankfully there are loads of lovely people out there in Web land who are happy to pass on their tips and information.