Last summer I finally learned to bale hay. Normally the guys don’t need help with that, but at my request, Dad decided to teach me. It is not quite as easy as it should be, with the equipment we have. Every few windrows the baler broke the twine. The brakes were lacking on the tractor too. It was such a cute little tractor, with a shiny, red coat of paint. It had one of those old-fashioned metal seats, also very shiny and red. That’s partly why I wanted to drive the tractor. Because it was so cute. That is a girl’s view on things.
I soon discovered that a shiny seat equals a slippery seat. With one foot pushing the bad brakes as hard as I could push, and the other on the clutch, I naturally slid back until both petals were out of reach. It would not have mattered on level ground where brakes were unnecessary as I shifted into gear. This particular field was on a hill. Our only hay-field on a hill.
It also would have worked out fine if I wouldn’t have had to stop on the slope, but with the baler skipping bales, I stopped on the slope. When I stopped, I kept the tractor in gear and killed the engine as soon as possible. Going up hill, if I timed it right, I could come to a proper halt and then kill the engine before the tractor started to roll. Most of the time I jolted to a stop or rolled back first.
Going downhill I had to rely on the brakes, but then I didn’t slide on the seat so bad. I didn’t have too much trouble either way, until it was time to start again. Then I clung to the steering wheel with one hand to keep me in place, while I started the tractor and shifted with the other. I could rarely push the brakes hard enough to keep me from rolling some before I got the tractor into gear. Dad grew frustrated as I rolled backwards over windrows and hay bales. “Push the brakes!!” he hollered, as he braced himself against the tire.
I shoved the tractor into gear, and popped the clutch. As it jolted forward, I yelled over the clatter of the baler, “I’m trying; they don‘t work!”
“Course they do!” I heard him shout, before I bounced out of earshot. Maybe they worked for a guy who was much stronger than I was. And who had longer legs. They were not working for me. I found out later, that the steering wheel was broken once, most likely by someone clinging to it while he pushed the “working” brakes incredibly hard.
I had a lot of fun baling hay though. It was a beautiful morning. The breeze was cool, and the sun warm on my bare arms. I loved slipping around on that cute red seat, as I bounced up and down the field. I loved the clatter of the baler, and trying to take the corners without leaving skippers. And though a hayfield on a hill is inconvenient, it provided an incredible view of the valley.
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