Tuesday, 24 July 2012
It's a beast
I've always had a fear of vehicles with big wheels and steam engines scare me silly. A tractor has aspects of all of these things so living with one is a big learning curve and I'm finding it somewhat gut wrenchingly scary. A fifty horse power tractor is so powerful, I can't imagine what being in control of the bigger ones is like and I'm so aware of the damage I can do by missing a turn or misjudging my line.
I'd never driven a tractor before this one arrived. My extreme youth spent on and around farms means I'm not unfamiliar with them but opportunities for driving lessons when you're six years old are few and far between. My experience was all about riding in the trailer with the feed sacks, something that is severely frowned upon by Health and Safety these days.
The controls are easy enough although the clutch needs all my strength when engaging the power take off for the tools. There are four gears and two gear ratios, high and low, although for the farm I only need the low option effectively turning it into a four gear machine. The higher ratio is for road use when head spinning speeds of 25 mph are achievable. A separate stick selects forward or reverse. Plenty of levers and settings for the front hydraulics to control the bucket and more levers to raise and lower the back tools. I've only really used the grass topper shown although we have some other implements for fancier work.
The real problem is my inexperience. We have wonderfully flat land on the whole, a few rutted places and just a tiny slope at one end of the lawn area but all the time I'm driving I'm petrified of turning the tractor over. Never mind that I have a heavy cutter behind and a heavy bucket held low in front, the slightest incline and I'm sweating and trying to use my comparatively puny weight to counterbalance the slope. I've spoken to other amateur tractor drivers and they confirm the same feelings. It just feels dreadfully out of control.
The silly thing is I've watched Paul bounce and jounce the thing across all the bits that scare me and from the ground there's no problem apparent at all. He's done some other things that are frightening but you wouldn't catch me trying them in the first place!
I suppose I'll just have to keep working at it until familiarity breeds some contempt but in the meantime my adrenaline is running high every time I climb into the driver's seat.
By the way, if you'd like to get one of these for yourself, I can offer no better advice than to contact Danelander if you're in the UK or France. They have done us proud and have an excellent customer service attitude which has helped us no end as we learn about the equipment. Highly recommended.