August 7, 2011
Apprentice Amy Cook approached me last week, in some distress, saying, “Belle isn’t okay. Something’s wrong with her. She just dies when I step on the clutch.”
Those of you who know me well, know that I’m very fond of my 33 hp Massey Fergusson tractor, Belle. Very fond of her. After a year of managing a one-acre market garden with a walk-behind tractor and two carpel tunnel surgeries, Belle came to my rescue, making it possible for me to continue to farm. This year we’re using her at Moraine Farm. The thought that she might be disabled was troubling, so I headed out to the Ag Barn to take a look at her.
I looked her over, opened the hood, jiggled wires, opened the air filter, checked the oil, inspected the fuel line. Started her up and drove around. Revved her engine. Let her idle. Raised and lowered the bucket to see how she did under a load. Fine. She did just fine.
Hmmm. Hmmm. I turned her off. Walked around her, gently kicked one of the tires and talked with her. “Amy doesn’t make things up, Belle. You weren’t working for her. What’s up? What’s your problem?” No answer. I got back on Belle, turned her on and sat there thinking. “What was Amy doing when you stopped?” I turned to look over my shoulder, as Amy would have when she was attaching the mower to Belle. I looked down. Belle sputtered.
Oh. I couldn’t stop grinning as I drove Belle out to where Amy was weeding the parsnips.
“Amy, no worries. Belle is just fine, but you need to eat more ice cream. A lot of it.”
Although big in spirit, Amy is one of the most petite farmers you’ll ever meet. When she lifts up just a tad to look over her shoulder at the three-point hitch or to push the clutch in, just enough of her weight comes off the seat to make Belle think she’s gone. Belle is wired to shut down when she thinks the farmer has left her seat.
So, Amy needs to eat more ice cream. A lot of it. And to that end, we will be getting a freezer in the Ag Barn this week. Donations in support of Amy’s farming career will gladly be accepted.
(P.S. We’ll soon be selling Appleton Farms grown beef – the real reason for the freezer! Stay tuned for more news about this new venture.)
See you at the farm,