Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mechanic on Duty

I really suck at being a mechanic, not only do I suck at it I hate it with a passion. Certainly when the situation warrants it (see January 10th blog) dealing with a mechanical issue is something I will deal with but for the most part I would be happy if I never faced the issue of needing to perform some preventative or necessary mechanical work on any tractor, pickup, motorcycle, feed wagon, baler, disc, swather, combine, …you get the idea.

Some people see me at the end of a day like today and wonder many things, usually in the form of a question. Do you like getting covered in cowshit? Do you know how covered in cowshit you are? Did you lay down today and roll around in the cowshit? Do you know you smell like cowshit? No matter how it is worded I am usually happy to say “YES”. If I could trade never getting hydraulic oil, motor oil, gear oil or grease on my body EVER again and in trade I had to be constantly covered in cowshit I would slap that genie on the ass and tell her how she sure looked young and thin today and thanks for granting my wish.

The problem with things like grease and oil is they come from something mechanical. I will be the first to admit that mechanical things add to our lives but I do not want to work on them. It is not really an aversion to lubricants but I have decided that if it is not lubricated by coconut tanning oil, alcohol or KY jelly I do not want to spend time working with it if at all possible.

Do you remember when you were younger and your parents took you on a summer vacation to some destination that was always at maximum one state over? Remember how you would stop to get gas at a “service station” and either a really short fat guy or a really tall but abnormally thin guy would walk up to the car and say to your Dad (women folk were not allowed to drive back then or speak while in a moving vehicle. This was the base of the saying ‘good old days’), anyway I digress; he would say, “check that awl and clean yer wunda?” Your Dad, who had checked the oil and cleaned the windshield 10 times before you left home 20 miles away would politely say, “Sure Al”. I say “Al” just as a general guess but the guy always had some short name, Al, Ed, Bo but it was always something short. Sometimes they would have wild parents and have an odd 3 letter name like Abe, Mac or Sam. The wildest one I ever saw was a man who had parents that so wanted him to be a gas station attendant they went nuts and deleted the letter “h” and named their son “Jon”. I always wondered why these men had such short names but I guess those little oval patches for the coveralls can only be so big. I mean really, how stupid would the oval name tag look if you had a mechanic named Heriberto.

Today I had a big day of things to do. Gather the yearlings, sort the yearlings and provide some overnight bedding for the yearlings so they look their best before leaving for market tomorrow. I also needed to check on the two groups of momma cows to check for new kids. I had a great plan of action and got an early start even though I got home from Olympia after midnight yesterday, well early today. You get the idea.

I went up to the corrals this morning and started the loader tractor and let it warm up. I then placed 4 big bales in feeders in the corrals and also loaded one on the pickup flatbed to use as bait to trail in the yearlings. I got about 90% of them to follow me into the corrals on the first try. Festus and I moved those up the alley and then we went back out and got the rest in the corrals on the second round. Here it was only 8 am and I was way ahead of schedule. I then restarted the loader tractor to load some straw bales to spread around in the wet muddy corrals for bedding. I had just lifted the first bale when a spray of antifreeze coated the window of the tractor cab. I thought it was probably just a blown hose and chuckled that my day had been way too perfect so far anyway. I shut off the tractor and climbed down to take a look. The hoses were fine but the water pump was blown, the bearings were gone around the hub and the fan was dangerously close to the radiator. The next 20 minutes was like me reading one of those books on tape entitled, “Every swear word ever uttered”.

I had too many things to do today already and now this. I made the executive decision to call a professional. An excellent young man from the local John Deere dealer arrived about an hour later and after making some unfavorable comments about the cleanliness of my pristine 1981 John Deere 4440 tractor he began to work in earnest. For the next 3 hours as he worked within earshot of me I am sure he got some chuckles at my swearing and general displeasure with the stupidity of yearlings and their inability to sort worth a damn. I am sure he also enjoyed the sound of gate slamming and my verbally disciplining Festus for being overly aggressive with the ignorant yearlings. As a reference for those who do not know, yearlings are to cattle what teenagers are to humans. They have lots of energy and gusto but have the sense of lunchbox full of shit.

I got the yearlings sorted and then after checking in on “Stu” the mechanic I left to go check cows and babies which took a good part of the afternoon today. When I returned this evening as the daylight was fading Stu was just finishing up his task of replacing the water pump. We chatted briefly before he left because I still needed to spread some straw bedding hopefully before dark. The last thing he said to me today before he left was, “Do you know you are covered in cowshit?” I said, “I know but that’s just part of my life”. As Stu drove away and I started the tractor to load the straw I laughed to myself and said to the dog. Festus I said, “We should say a prayer for that poor bastard who has to drive home covered in grease and oil.”

Today’s picture is of Dakota and Sam on the John Deere tractor on one of its good days.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Barn owl aka Tyto alba.