Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

What can go Wrong

They say what can go wrong … will. When it comes to the Andrew family, the saying often seems to be proven true. That and ‘if it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any at all. Today was one of those days. The weather was somewhat less bitter, and seemed the perfect opportunity to get the tons of snow moved, all the roadways to the corrals and the driveway, cleared too. On top of that, we would put out some big bales while the machine was running. Our giant machine is an ancient, old beast of a thing, likely about forty-five years or so. It’s been good to us. Sure, it’s had the odd breakdown now and again, but it’s been fixed and we carry on. Every time it gets used, we cross our fingers and hope it behaves. We surely can’t afford any sort of big repair, and we depend on it for so much. Well, today was the day it happened. Thankfully, all the snow had been moved, the driveway and paths cleared and two of four bales put out when it happened. Suddenly, the bucket wouldn’t lift, hydraulic oil poured out from underneath the behemoth of a machine. We faced trouble, big trouble.
The machine had broken down in worst possible spot, inside a pen. It wasn’t minus thirty out, but it was still too cold to have to work on a machine that wasn’t near power or any heat source at all. At least it had to come out of the pen, which as it turned out was not an easy thing. The steering pump also worked off hydraulic oil pressure. The steering wheel did nothing at all. It didn’t help that the bucket was on the ground and wouldn’t lift. There was a very good possibility that it would stay right where it was, until spring. This is Canada after all. Spring could be two or three months away.
After tinkering with it a bit, and realizing the problem was a split line and not the hydraulic pump. We were somewhat relieved by that, as a pump is a huge deal, nothing we could afford, that’s for sure. Still, the line wasn’t going to be easy either. It was a big one and not at all easy to get at. It would be so much easier to work on, if the machine was in the quonset, or at least by it. Working on heavy equipment in a snow bank, without any sort of power, isn’t at all pleasant. Sure, there’s a generator, but like everything else kept outside, it wasn’t likely to start without being warmed first. By the time it would be willing to start, the big machine would’ve cooled to the point where it wouldn’t. Not only that, but without hydraulic oil, the hoe was beginning to drop as well. If it ended up on the ground like the bucket was … it wouldn’t be moving anywhere. We had to at least try to get it to the quonset.

Hubby tried to get it out of the pen, and managed to get it through the gate. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t direct it, to where it had to go. One gate post and the gate itself, suffered a little from this lack of steering. Despite some drastic movement, they didn’t break. Sadly, the gate shows distinct signs of having been impacted. All in all, everything remained upright, and sometimes that’s all one can ask for. Somehow, some way, we had to get that big machine to go the direction we needed it to. It travelled straight, sort of, and directly in line with the route was a huge pile of frozen and tarped, frozen, aged horse manure, we sell to gardeners. As it wasn’t about to move, we had to figure out a way to move the machine, the machine with no steering and a bucket on the ground, around it.
Enter sweetpea and a four-wheel drive pickup truck. It’s just a half ton, but it was all that was needed to direct the machine in the right direction, or directions, as it took repeated attempts. Picture this, a backhoe loader that weighs over eighteen thousand pounds, being tugged and redirected by a pickup truck. Picture that it actually worked, and lo and behold, we actually got that machine all the way to and into the quonset. If we hadn’t had the pickup to help, and a daughter who understands what’s needed, it’s doubtful that we would’ve been successful.
All in all, it could’ve been far worse. Yes, there’s a line to replace, but as difficult as it was to do, hubby managed to get it off and the engine cleaned up. It will probably take about three or four pails of hydraulic oil and an expensive line, but it could’ve been worse, much worse. There was a whole lot of snow that had been saturated with oil to remove, and we fenced off the area so the horses can’t access it, just in case, but all in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. What can go wrong, will go wrong, and if it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any at all. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the pump, so I guess, we’re a little lucky after all.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB