In this life it now seems increasingly likely to me that the gods know and track our weaknesses. Perhaps to better exploit them for their own merciless sense of humor.
The Dodge truck had been running a bit slow and the a.c. not at all for the past three years. So we dropped it off at our local (10 miles away) mechanic for a tune-up and evaluation. Leaving me to spend a few days without transportation. Which, in the country, with the nearest public transportation forty miles away, is a pain. Although there are plenty of days when we do not leave the farm, knowing we can makes the difference.
During my truck-less days consider the following: It would take three hours and twenty-one minutes to walk to the nearest gas station. That number was important when I ran out of gas for the ailing lawn mower. A mower that burns through oil, spark plugs and doesn’t start more often than not. Seven hours walking just to get the damn grass mowed? Nah. So I turned to our trusty Stihl weed-eater. It too was running a bit slow, so I took out the air-filter and cleaned it as best I could, spark-plug removed and scraped off the carbon, blew out the fuel filter and still no joy.
At this point in that day I’m really missing that truck so I make a quick call to the mechanic: tune-up complete and a.c. checked out. Good news is that the tune-up cost $125. Bad news is that the a.c. system is truly shot with holes in the compressor. Repair bill if I wish to proceed, just under $1000. Apparently this model requires removing most of the engine and dash to access the damaged parts. Geeze, don’t know if it is worth fixing the a.c. for that much money? Let me think about it, I say.
OK, he says. But here is the really bad news. That slight miss in the engine is due to some valve chatter. A complete valve job will be needed. The problem will get worse. Maybe, he says, with a hopeful note in his voice and bank account, the truck has six months. JESUS, how much is that going to cost? Well…, he says again, this model Ram is a real pain to work on…$4000 plus.
Cindy drove me in to Sweetwater to pick up the patient that evening. She headed on home and I to the farmer’s co-op and picked up a new $3 air filter for the weed-eater. While I was there I talked with one of the staff about it. He suggested removing the EPA mandated screen on the carburetor. Doesn’t do anything except keep the emissions down, he says. Or keep climate changing gasses out of the air, I thought. Leaving with the filter and with this dubious advice, I got the gas for the mower and drove home.
I pulled into the farm in time to see our second tractor be delivered. Also ailing, it had been at the tractor mechanic for some much needed work. Getting out of the truck I headed over to the mower and filled it up with fresh gas. Still the damn think wouldn’t start.
We resolve to bite the bullet and purchase another push mower. These mowers do get used pretty hard on a small farm. And five years seems to be the average life span for them. We also decide to get the old one fixed but hold it as a reserve.
Now for the weed-eater, looking around to see if anyone is watching, I remove the little EPA screen. Tugging the cord to start it purrs like a dream. Damn those little screens, screw the environment, I’ve got work to get done. (Is it just me? Or is it getting hot in here?)
Cindy meanwhile hitches the newly fixed small tractor to the ailing finish mower and begins mowing the orchards. She finds me on the other tractor, where I’m bush-hogging lamb paddocks, a short ten minutes later. The finish-mower just burned up and is gone. Our old Mennonite mechanic had warned (ten years ago) that it could die anytime. I took my hat off in memory… kicked the hat and shook my fist at those cruel laughing gods.
Thank goodness we sold another four chicks for $18 dollars and that half mutton for $100. We only need to have 65 more weekends like this to catch up. No problem.