Keeping an eye on Bob

Susan Manzke
Columnist Susan Manzke was on the scene to lend her husband, Bob, a hand when the tractor and disk became stuck in a wet spot.

Bob is the real farmer in this family. I’m an extra pair of hands when he needs them. I used to help out more in the fields in past years, but not so much lately. Bob’s old tractors have all kinds of quirks about them that I would need a primer just to get them in gear.

Let’s face it, our tractors and my farmer-husband are getting old—and I’m not far behind them. Because of age, I keep close to home whenever Bob is doing field work. I declined a couple outings so I could keep an eye on him.

Spring rains kept our fields wet this year and delayed planting. When Bob was able to work up the ground with the tractor and disk, he had to pay attention to mudholes—those things can suck a tractor into a quagmire real fast and there you sit, not moving.

I was on the lookout for Bob in problem situations. A mired tractor might mean I’m on duty to tow it out—tractors get taller every year, so even climbing onto one takes some effort—not like when I was young and agile.

Bob got the tractor and disk stuck one afternoon not far from the house. This spot was a surprise mudhole. The recent rain had pooled at the bottom of a hill and when Bob went to turn the tractor it grabbed hold of his tires. He needed my extra pair of hands. “I think I can disconnect the disk, get the tractor out, and then pull the disk out, but I could use your help?”

What he needed me to do at that time was to take him with chains and jack back to the tractor and then hang around in case more supplies were wanted. If the job got too rough we get the other tractor out and I would be doing some pulling.

Lucky for all of us, Bob was able to dig out the hitch so he could unhitch the disk. It only took three tries for the tractor to climb itself out of its mudhole.

The next part of the operation was to pull the disk out. Chains were required for this. Bob backed up toward the disk at a different angle he connected the chains and pulled and turned the disk until it was out of the muddy section of field.

At this point the disk’s tongue was on the ground, out of position to hook back to the tractor. The jack was needed to lift the heavy tongue off the ground and line it up to the tractor’s drawbar.

My two hands came in handy when Bob backed the tractor to the disk. I had to pump the jack a little higher, and then slip the pin in place. My husband then had to reconnect all the hydraulic hoses but soon he was set to go again.

I might not have been able to do all the heavy work – even moving that jack into place was tricky and required Bob’s touch. But having me there saved him a few extra steps.

I stay around and do more than just help. I keep an eye on my husband too. He forgets that he’s not a kid anymore and often tries to do too much. It’s my job to bring him some water and while he’s drinking he’s also taking a break and that’s a good thing.

Bob came into the house now. He had been going over some of the mudholes that had dried and finished planting the last of our soybeans in the ground. That big chore is done. Yay!

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;