APRIL 2018• COUNTRY LIFE IN BC The Massey takes Henderson for a spin When we left off last time,

Deborah had just told Christopher to stop teasing his sister after her first date with Clay. She had just started her own interrogation when Kenneth’s hollering interrupted the conversation. His new tractor had arrived. Rural Redemption, part 97, continues ...


Chronicles by BOB COLLINS

Deborah stood speechless as her mind struggled to grasp the implications of Ashley’s date revelation. “What?” said Deborah. “I said the tractor is here!”

hollered Kenneth from the front room “What?” said Deborah. “He said his tractor is here.

We better go and see it before he wigs out,” said Ashley. “Never mind the tractor. What happened on your date?”

“Nothing.” “Are you two deaf? The

tractor is here!” howled Kenneth.

Out in the driveway, Dave Saunders shifted the Field and Furrow Used Farm Equipment truck into first gear and chugged toward the house. His boss, Kevin Wallace, made a quick mental survey of the Henderson homestead: maybe four acres cleared, house looks like it’s been a bit re-modeled, new looking SUV and truck in the driveway, probably worth $80,000, not much for buildings, old but looked after, nothing much agricultural going on other than the big pile of sawdust in front of the barn. “What do you think?” said

Dave. “I’m willing to bet this guy

doesn’t know sheep dip from cherry stones.” As the truck ground to a halt, Kenneth limped vigorously out of the house with Deborah and Ashley in tow. He went straight to the trailer and stood staring at the Massey Ferguson 285 in all its faded, oil-stained glory. Kevin introduced himself

and Dave. “You must be Ken Henderson. Pleased to meet you.” “It’s Kenneth,” said Kenneth, without taking his eyes off the 285. “So this is it? It’s bigger than I expected.” “That’s not a bad thing,” said Kevin. “You get yourself a decent-sized tractor like this and you’ll never have to over- work it, and you won’t have to monkey around all day like some folks with those little toy tractors do. This here is the real thing.” “Does it run?” asked

Deborah. “Yes, Ma’am. Like a top. We

had Dave check it all out yesterday.” “Is it safe?” asked Deborah. “You bet. It’s got a roll-over

bar, and a brand new seat belt, and the brakes will lock on tighter than the pants on one of those big-city hipsters,” said Kevin.

While all the

conversation was going on, Dave Saunders had unchained the tractor and folded down the wheel

ramps on the back of the trailer. “Where do you want me to park her?” he asked as he climbed aboard. “Up by the sawdust pile,” said Kenneth, pointing. Dave gave a nod and with a silent prayer turned the key. The 285 gave three tired groans, then thundered to life. Kevin turned to Kenneth as

Dave drove the tractor toward the barn. “You had much experience driving tractor, Mr. Henderson?” “Why? Don’t you think I’ll be able to?” “Just asking. Like

everything else, there’s a bit of a knack to it. If you haven’t done it much, it might be an idea to get a few pointers from a neighbour.” “Trust me,” said Kenneth. “If I need pointers I won’t be asking any neighbours for them.” No, I don’t suppose you

will, thought Kevin. “Well, I’ll leave you to it then. Here’s the paper work and the extra key. There’s another one in the ignition. Give me a call if you’re looking for any implements. I’ve got a good selection and you get 10% off because you bought the tractor from us. Good luck.”

Kenneth was limping

toward the tractor before they were off the property. Deborah followed, pleading with him to call Newt for some advice before he started driving it. Ashley said she was sure Clay would help out if she asked him.

Kenneth dragged himself into the seat and stared down at them. “Look, I didn’t spend $10,000 so I could ask some old hayseed and a cowboy wannabe to come and lecture me about tractors. Now, give me some space. I’m going to move this pile of sawdust.” Deborah and Ashley

retreated toward the house. The only sound they could hear was a stream of grumbled profanity. A mile away, Kevin Wallace and Dave Saunders stopped at the general store for a cup of coffee.

“Geez,” said Kevin. “My ears

feel like they’re burning.” A half hour later, Newt

Pullman’s phone rang. “Pullman? It’s Kenneth next

door. I just bought a new tractor and it won’t start. I was wondering if you might know why?” “What kind of tractor did

you get?

Kenneth told him about the 285. Awfully old for a new tractor, thought Newt. “Are you with the tractor

now?” “Yes, I’m sitting on it trying

to make it start.” “Have you got it in neutral?”

“Neutral what?” “Neutral on the gear shift.

Look at the short gearshift on the right of the main shifter. It has L-N-H marked on it. It has to be in N before it will start.” Kenneth struggled the

shifter into neutral and turned the key. The starter gave a tired growl. Kenneth let go of the key. “Okay, that seems to be it.

Thanks.” Five minutes later, Newt’s phone rang again. “This piece of crap still

won’t start and now the battery is dead. Any ideas?” “Hang on. I’ll bring some jumper cables and see what we can do.” In another five minutes, Newt and Christopher were parked next to the 285.

Kenneth was still at the helm questioning the ancestry and intelligence of whatever hair- brained idiot had designed it in the first place. “It just kept cranking over until the battery died,” said Kenneth. “Lousy piece of junk.” “These were good tractors in their day,” said Newt, glancing at the panel. “Did you pull that red knob out?” “No, I didn’t pull the red

knob out! I didn’t touch the red knob!” “Okay, so the red knob is

your fuel shut off. That’s how you stop the engine. It won’t start if it’s not pushed back in.”

Newt hooked jumper

cables from his pickup to the 285 and it roared to life on the first turn. “Want me to show you how

this all works?” asked Newt. Kenneth shook his head. “I’ve got it now. Sorry to

trouble you. I’ll square up with you later.”

Newt coiled up the jumper cables and stood back as Kenneth pulled the shift lever into first, shoved the throttle lever ahead and let out the clutch. Nothing happened. “For the love of gawd, what

now?” “Your short shifter is still in

neutral. You need to shift it to high or low.” Kenneth yarded the shift lever violently into high

range, throttled the engine back up and let out the clutch. The tractor stalled. He looked as if his head was ready to explode. “Your brakes are probably

locked on. There’s a little lever at the edge of the brake pedal, lift it with your toe.” Kenneth tried to fiddle his toe under brake lock, then bared his teeth and started kicking it. Pain stabbed through his ankle. He was nearing total meltdown. He shoved the throttle all

the way to rabbit and popped the clutch. The 285 made a neck-snapping leap and buried itself into the sawdust pile. One of the nearly treadless rear tires started throwing a shower of mud 20 feet behind. Christopher started for the tractor but Newt caught his sleeve. Kenneth was utterly stupefied. “Pull the red knob!”

screamed Newt. When the engine finally

died, Newt and Christopher helped the ashen-faced driver back to the ground. Deborah and Ashley led him away. “Is he okay?” asked Christopher. “Just a little shell-shocked I

think,” said Newt. “Chris, I think maybe this would be a good time for you to learn a few things about operating tractors.”

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