Accident-Prone History in the Hay Field

Hayfield breakdowns are a part of making hay. You’re driving over hard, rough ground with equipment mere inches above said ground for double-digit hours a day during the hottest time of the year. Don’t worry about the stars needing to align for all matter of things to go wrong; they will all on their own.

I dropped a comment off on a post by an Arkansas cattle rancher friend yesterday about hay equipment breakdowns, and I thought – heck – why not devote today to detailing three of my past “incidences” with the years I spent my summers making hay?

New Holland hay rake

New Holland hay rake

The Wheels on the Rake [are supposed to] Go Round n’ Round
Imagine you’re driving along, making yet another round in the field you’ve been puttering across all afternoon. You look back on the windrow being thrown together and things are good. You drive a ways, look back, and there’s the right wheel flopped over like a 3 a.m. drunk a hundred feet back in a wad of hay.

Something like, “Hrmm, what happened here?!” comes out of your mouth. Clutch. Throw into neutral. Set brakes. Run back. Motion at the rake. Kick the drunk wheel. Call dad.

*This happened twice. I maintain it wasn’t operator error but rather that I was simply wheel-cursed.

Tractor pulling load of little square bales

Tractor pulling load of little square bales

What Goes Up Must Come Down
One morning, dad and I were bringing in a large load of little square alfalfa bales, pulling the lowboy with a 630 “Johnny Pop” John Deere. I was riding on the fender, and in a steep dip on the pond dam, the whole front end of the load came crashing down on top of the tractor.

Chicken Little and his whole sky-is-falling thing had nothing on me that day. They don’t have safety drills for what to do when 100+ pound bales are falling on your head.

Down to Earth * This one might have been my fault.
I was throwing the end rows together (we usually cut four to six passes around the whole field before cutting it in parallel swaths), when I noticed a hole peeking through the swath of hay laid over top. I had about 2.7 seconds to analyze how big it was, whether to drive over it or to swerve and miss it. Holes are standard fare in a hay field so I kept the un-powered steering wheel of my Farmall H steady.

A Farmall H Tractor

A Farmall H Tractor

But holes disguising abandoned wells? The front end of my tractor dropped into the earth without warning. And, there I was. Stuck like a June bug in a December snowstorm, wondering how the heck I got in this situation while interchanging panicked mantras of “Oh this is not good!” with “Dad’s really gonna kill me this time!”

After getting the tractor with the loader and a log chain to lift my poor H’s front end out of Mother Earth, I was back on my way. Abandoned wells are dangerous, even in places where little kids aren’t running around.

If you work with equipment, something is going to break down and things are going to go wrong. It’s just how it is. Blow off your steam of frustration at another setback, and then smile – or frown (some days it’s just like that) – and get down to the business of fixing ‘er up.


  1. […] times I’ve let the wrong cow slip by me, let the wrong words slip out, or the ONE time my tractor dropped into an abandoned well – let’s just say I’d need a lot more hands to tally up that […]

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