05 Feb

Silver Linings

I couldn’t think of any other way to title today’s entry. My beloved farm truck is in the shop today after giving its all this weekend. While I worry for her well being, I am so very grateful she waited to stop until we had completed a weekend’s worth of chore that required her help. Thanks for that, buddy.

Hay Day

A few days ago I noticed the clutch took a while to engage. I wasn’t sure if I was correct or if it was because I had been wearing my farm boots more recently whilst driving, and they always make me feel clumsy. Then Saturday as we were getting hay, I really put the truck through its paces.

For the first time I drove into the paddock with deep snow on the ground. I thought that the roof shed would be more compact and that I could just drive over it.  For the most part I was right, but the extra weight of the hay bales (~800 lbs each trip) had us sinking deeper.

Getting in with the hay ended up being the easier task. Backing up and negotiating the paddock gate, which is just slightly wider than the truck was a challenge. Sarah helped by using the barn shovel to remove snow that was keeping the gate from opening wider, allowing me to squeeze through without taking off a side mirror.

Snow Day

When the snow started accumulating on Sunday we were thankful we had gotten the hay in the day before. The original plan had been to do hay on Sunday since we had dinner plans (Burns’ Night!) on Saturday. Sunday, Sarah was going to her spinning group with her mother, and my plan was to potter around the house until it was time to make schnitzel for supper.

With the snow coming down harder, I decided to put the plow on the truck, and clear the driveway for Sarah and Nancy’s return. Just as I finished plowing in front of the paddock and was about to back up the driveway for the last time, the truck made a clunk and stalled.

I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I started the truck, but could not get it to move forward. I tried in 2-wheel drive, with no change in fortune. I tried reverse, and was able to back up, and stopped myself before I backed up too far! I slowly put the truck in low four, and was able to crawl forward. I exhaled. With those two gears, I have options. I turned the truck around, backed up the driveway, and put the truck back in the carport.

Then I started shoveling and thinking, and stressing, and as a plan materialized I was eventually smiling. Or trying my best to put on a brave face, is more like it. When Sarah and Nancy got home I was finishing shoveling Nancy’s deck. I met them at the car, and Nancy thanked me for the plowed driveway. I replied that I was trying to do something nice because I was likely to need to borrow her car for the foreseeable future.

We unpacked their spinning wheels, and returned to our warm homes.  I made delicious schnitzel, and Sarah roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. The truck would be something for morning. I was just glad my family was home safe and sound.

The Plan

In the morning, I called Jim at Village Auto & Tire in Randolph, and told him what happened. He said he would be waiting for the tow truck when it arrived, and would get her on the lift as soon as she got there. I thanked him, and then arranged for the roadside assistance to arrive via my insurance company’s app.

I got my winter gear on, and proceeded to wrestle the plow off the truck. As I did so, the tow truck driver called me back and wanted to know exactly how to get to me.  He had been burned before on my road, and wasn’t sure he wanted to risk it. I explained the situation and the safe way to find me, and hung up.

I got the plow on. Then I recalled that Sarah had slid with her wheels locked up when she went down the driveway on her way to the tannery only 30 minutes earlier. I got out of the truck, put the chains on the rear tires, got back in, and slowly backed away from the carport. I put the truck into low four, and inched my way to the top of the drive.

Once I had enough momentum, and nerve, I put the truck in neutral and went as slowly as I could. The chains likely being the difference, I was able to easily crawl down the hill to the flat area in front of the barn, out of the way of the driveway.

The plan for me was to have the tow truck driver turn in my neighbor’s driveway, and back up to my driveway. So I walked down the road to meet the driver. When I rounded the bend I saw another neighbor out snow throwing, so I continued on down the road. I’d meet the truck anyway, so I might as well greet him. We had a brief chat, and I let him get back to clearing another neighbor’s walk.

The driver arrived only a few minutes later, and I waved him to stop. I tried to explain My Plan. He nodded and then started driving up toward my driveway. Not part of My Plan. I then saw him drive past my driveway, and I broke into a jog. I eventually caught up as he was backing up toward me. He explained that the truck only had 2-wheel drive, so he was looking for a place to turn around that wouldn’t require his trying to back his truck up the steep incline. Made sense, so Plan B.

He would turn around in the closest driveway, and I would drive the truck down the road a bit to the neighbors driveway where I had originally expected the drive to turn around.

This plan worked, and we chatted while I steered my truck and he pulled me and the truck up the sloped bed of his truck. I reminded him he had helped me out a few months earlier with a flat tire on a frigid afternoon, and he remembered. He asked me if I had any extra parts for my truck because he had one like it. I replied that I needed a few parts myself, including a new front bumper before inspection is due. He rattled off a few things he was looking for, and one of them was a factory radio. “That I can possibly help you with,” I told him.

I passed on how I had just replaced the original radio with the current one last autumn, and told him if I can find it, he can have it. After we got my truck secured to his flat bed, I wrote down my name and number, and he agreed to call about the radio.

By now the sun had come out, as well as my neighbor whose driveway I had just used. We had a cordial chat, meaning I gave him some information but not as much as he would have liked about what was wrong with my truck. I allowed him to tell a quick story, and then made my excuses.

Dénouement?

I made my way back to the house, stopping to feed the sheep and llamas. Glad I had hay to feed them, and less stressed about my truck now that she was on her way to see Jim. I know he will take good care of her. When I got back to the house, I texted Josh to ask if he can plow for us today, and he replied he’d work us in somehow. That made me feel better too.

As I stepped into the mudroom I heard Leo whining for me, so I stayed dressed, put his collar on him and let him come outside with me. I grabbed the snow shovel, and started clearing all the usual spots around the house while Leo hunted for mice below the snow’s surface. He followed me as I made my way around the property slinging snow as I went.

Every once in a while he’d stray away to continue his hunt, and I would lose track of his white body in the fresh snow with the glare of the bright sun. But he always comes running when you call his name. Once I was done with the shoveling, I followed him around and let him romp and explore. This made him feel happy, and made me feel great.

When he was done, we went inside, and I got out of my dirty winter gear. Before I even got re-dressed I ground coffee and made a fresh pot. I put on some dry, warm clothes and my warmest hand knitted wool socks, poured myself a cup of coffee and plopped onto the couch. That made me feel better too.

 

Thoughts and prayers for my truck though, please.

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