My Beautiful Orange Tractor
The new tractor’s been pulling its weight here at Bear Creek Farm for a few weeks.
What a difference added horsepower and the right implements make to a neophyte dahlia farmer! The soil preparation and the planting have been going smoothly thanks to my Kioti NX6010.
But it didn’t start out that way. The Friday the tractor arrived, I waited impatiently for it to roll off the delivery truck, sign all the paperwork, pull on my work boots, then climb aboard to fire up the engine for a test drive. I turn the ignition, listened to the satisfying roar of the 60 HP engine, put my foot on the pedal, and…nothing. I sat there revving the engine, fumbling around for an emergency break to release (there isn’t one). When I took my foot off the gas, the engine died.
Finally, my fumbling gave way to fuming, and I stomped into the house to call the dealership to bring the delivery truck back and pick up this brand new hunk of junk. I had a few choice words about what they could do with it once they retrieved it, but I won’t share them here.
Frank took my call with soothing equanimity, and assured me that a serviceman would be dispatched first thing Monday morning. Which meant, of course, I had to keep the infernal machine sitting around, not earning its keep, for an entire weekend. Now that Bear Creek is a working farm, a leisurely weekend is thing of the past. I simply couldn’t afford to let 48 hours idly go by at planting season, so I cajoled, whimpered, and outright begged until the service guy agreed to come out on Saturday.
In no time a) the tractor was working perfectly and b) I had a new BFF. Turns out, the Kioti has oodles of built-in safety features. One of them is an automatic shut-down that turns off the engine if it senses there is no one in the driver’s seat. Imagine my delight (and surprise) when BFF told me the reason the tractor wasn’t going anywhere was that my weight did not register on the sensor! A simple adjustment solved the “problem,” and I spent the rest of the weekend in the happy daze of one who is officially lighter than air. Whoever said “orange is the new black” really knew what she was talking about. My NX6010 is more slenderizing than a LBD.
But with fertilizer to spread, I came back down to earth pretty quickly. I loaded the tractor’s hopper with the prescribed amount to enrich an acre of soil. I’d purchased a rather costly organic brand, so I was careful to measure precisely so as not to waste any of this precious substance. Imagine my dismay, then, the hopper started rattling that empty sound after about one-quarter of an acre. What had gone wrong? I’d measured with such attention.
Yeah. What I had not factored into my measurements is the difference in spreading capacity my new 60 HP baby has over my old 27 HP 1941 model. My old tractor has a spreading range of about eight feet, my new one many times that. So, roughly one quarter of this field has been radically over fertilized—which dahlias don’t like. We’ll see how it turns out. I learned an expensive lesson about the wonderful efficiency of my new machine—and my pocketbook will make certain that I will not forget it.
I’d like to say that the manure fiasco was the only learning experience I had my first weekend with the new tractor. But, alas, there was to be other collateral damage. In my zeal to get the new tractor out into the fields I nicked a fence post (a newly—and expensively—installed fence post) on my way from the barn. The fencing is as a much a necessity as the tractor itself, so I cannot waste any time getting the post repaired.
When you grow dahlias in upstate New York, the fence is only defense you have to make sure the deer in the neighborhood remain good neighbors.
More about planting in my next post. Off to the fields I go in my bright orange beauty.