Running Like a Deere

by wjw on April 6, 2020

On Saturday came a fortunate coincidence— both I and my little tractor were feeling well enough to get some yard work done.

The tractor had been ill longer than I had.  I usually plan to kick off yard work season in February, just after we burn the dried-out weeds and leaves from the previous year, but weather delayed the weed-burning, and just when I was planning on getting the tractor out, it turned out to have a dead battery.  But that’s normal— tractor batteries are generally good for only a single season, and this one had lasted for two— and for that reason I keep a battery charger around.  But once I got the battery charged, it cranked and cranked and cranked, and the engine wouldn’t fire.  I fiddled with it for several days, and then called the John Deere dealer, located maybe a mile from my house.

“It’s probably fouled spark plugs,” I was told.  “Typical at the start of the year.”  So off I went to the auto parts store, where I found the personnel wearing gloves as a protection against COVID.  I bought some new plugs and installed them, and once again the battery cranked and cranked and cranked, and the engine refused to fire.  So again I called the dealer, and they put the tractor on their trailer, and took it off to the repair shop.  (it needed some normal maintenance anyway, so I figured I’d be sending it to the shop in any case.)

Anyway, this happened one day before our governor shut down all non-essential businesses, and two days before I got sick.  I called the dealership repeatedly and got no answer, and I figured my tractor was locked away for the duration, but I was too sick to do yard work anyway, so I concentrated on not coughing up my lungs and other more essential tasks.

440px-Sisymbrium_irio_flowerIn the meantime, the weeds were growing like nobody’s business, knee high in places, and in other places even taller.  Parts of the properly looked as if I were growing London rocket commercially.  (At least the stuff is edible, and if the food supply fails I can have green salad.)

Last week, to my astonishment, the Deere dealer called and said my tractor was ready, and dropped it off later that day with a bill for $279, which I thought reasonable considering they fixed a lot more than a blocked fuel line.

But it was days before I felt well enough to take the Deere out for a spin, and by that time the weeds had grown so huge that I feared even the tractor would be unable to destroy them.  But I found that if I drove slowly enough, the tractor was able to masticate the London rocket, the tumbleweed, the giant thistles, the dandelions, and other vegetable vermin.  Have to say the place looks a lot better.

There still remained the weeds the tractor couldn’t reach, and that would require the string trimmer.  Sunday I was feeling too miserable to do anything other than stare at the ceiling, but today (Monday) I woke feeling rather spritely, and so I got out the string trimmer, which after its long winter’s nap started right up.

The trimmer is a professional model and weighs maybe thirty pounds.  It’s also badly balanced, and if you hold it by the handle one end will drop to the ground.  It requires constant muscle power to balance it, and soon I found out just how much the Whatever Virus had weakened me.  I had to quit in the middle of the job for a rest, but then returned and finished it, and the weeds.  My arms were trembling for hours afterward, though I did recover enough to take a walk in the park.  (I saw only one other person, a gentleman walking his dog.  We greeted each other from a safe distance.)

Thus my Adventures in Agriculture.  Next job, the roses.

Privateiron April 8, 2020 at 5:29 am

“Running like a deer” just makes me think of Joni Mitchell’s “Refuge of the Roads.” I am a strange person; 99% of people probably think of the lawnmower.

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