The dogs aren't the only ones needing to see a doctor recently. Last Friday, as our first real winter storm of the season approached, I hooked up the snowplow to the tractor. In the cab, I flicked the control switch a couple of times to move the plow left-to-right, and it dutifully angled left and then ... stopped. No rightward movement at all. It didn't budge.
It was just a few degrees above zero, I'd been outside for over an hour already, and I just wanted to get the plow working so I could finish up chores before it got dark. I unhooked the hydraulic hoses, plugged them in again, and no difference. Oddly, I could feel and see the hydraulic fluid making the hoses move, so I knew the hydraulic switch was working ... but the blade wasn't moving.
By the time I gave up trying to troubleshoot on my own, it was 4:30 p.m. With the storm arriving on Saturday, I didn't want to be without a plow for the weekend. I called the wonderful guys at our local tractor outfit in Lancaster, Jon Parks Tractor, to see what they thought I was missing. Gary offered to come right out and look at it. (At 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, in near zero weather -- that's the kind of guys they are!) He was soon at the farm, and he poked and prodded and turned this and turned that ... and was just as stumped as I was. Nothing made a difference. (Which made me feel better, since I am no mechanic and have embarrassed myself more often than I would like to remember.)
We arranged for them to come back on Monday morning and pick up the tractor.
My back-up Plan B was to use the bucket on the second tractor to clear snow away ... it would be clumsy and not pretty, but I could keep the drive mostly open. I went to plug in the engine block heater on that tractor -- it was already too cold to start without it -- only to find the block heater cord missing! Completely gone. It plugs into the engine block, and somehow it had dropped off over the summer or fall while I was doing other work and I never noticed. In 9 years, that has never happened. (Of course not ... not until it was heading to sub-zero temps and a winter storm was arriving.)
Plan C ... didn't occur to me until Saturday, when I realized I could still plow with the original tractor, but only in one direction. It would be awkward, require a lot of backing up, and take longer, but it was doable. So I plugged that tractor in to keep warm, and on Sunday afternoon, after the snow stopped, I climbed aboard and started plowing to the left ... always to the left. Once I had my head around it, and was thinking ahead, I managed just fine.
On Monday the guys came to pick up the tractor, which is what you see in the photo at the top. It snowed a bit more Sunday night but only about an inch or so. The tractor should be back today. The problem? A $20 hydraulic coupler had failed.
Memo to Steve #1: Do NOT wait until the day before the winter's first storm to hook up the snowplow.
Memo to Steve #2: Oh, and remember to inspect engine block heater cords before winter arrives!
Final 2013 Shelter Challenge Underway
The final round of the Shelter Challenge for 2013 began on October 28th and runs until December 22. You can vote every day here. To search for us, type in our name, Rolling Dog Farm, and Lancaster, NH 03584. We just won another $1,000 in the previous round, so your daily votes do bring in serious money for our disabled animals!
Please note that I cannot help with technical or voting problems. I also do not have an "inside track" to anyone at the Shelter Challenge, and I don't know any more about the contest than anyone else does. So if you find yourself having issues, please consult their FAQ page here and their Rules page, which is a pop-up you can find linked on this page.
Thanks for your votes!