When—or if—the rain finally stops,
farmers will be logging some pretty long hours in combine cabs to try
and catch up before the snow falls. But after a couple of solid 12 or
14 hour shifts, fatigue can start to set in. That is exactly when
accidents start to happen. And it’s far too easy to feel like you are
immune from the risks. When trying to get the crop seeded last
spring, I relearned that lesson, yet again.
While pressed for time, I was trying to
hook up an implement to a new tractor for the first time. I had made
the connection dozens of times with the previous tractor, but this
time things did not go smoothly. After all the hydraulic lines were
connected, I jumped into the seat and pushed the control lever to
extend a hydraulic cylinder that had to be fitted into place. Nothing
happened except a groan of protest from the tractor’s hydraulic pump.
After a lot of head scratching and
thumbing through the operator’s manual, I finally figured out the
lines were connected to the SCVs in the wrong order, something that
should have been immediately apparent. All I needed to do see that
was look at the markings on the back of the tractor. The order was
different from my previous machine and I was just blindly doing what
had become a habit. Being in a rush, I wasn’t taking time to think—or
wanted to get the wheels turning and put some seed in the ground.
After sorting out the lines, I quickly
dropped the hydraulic cylinder into place and lifted the seeder. Just
like when it came to making the connections, however, I was still
rushing; On top of that, I was distracted by the previous problem and
trying to make up for lost time. As the cylinder ram was forced out,
it bent like a banana. Part of the seeder interferes with the
cylinder fit if it’s placed the wrong way, and I had put in on
backwards. The only thing I had achieved after all this time was to
turn the cylinder into a chunk of scrap metal.
Not only did I now have to find a
replacement for it, but I couldn’t retract the ram to lower the
implement and remove it. That meant more wasted time jacking up the
seeder to remove the tension so I could make the change.
By the time this comedy of errors—which
didn’t seem very funny at the time—had ended. I had wrecked a
cylinder, wasted several litres of hydraulic oil, made an extra trip
to town for replacements and didn’t put a single seed in the ground
In the end, I managed to get all my
acres in and have since harvested them. It turned out all that
rushing around really wasn’t necessary. I wonder how many of us put
more pressure on ourselves to get things done than is really
Looking back, I was fortunate. Nothing
was damaged that couldn’t be replaced. I at least managed not to hurt
myself, pride notwithstanding. That is essential, because the object
is to stay alive and uninjured so you can return to the field to farm
another day, and hopefully make some money in the process. If you
feel the need to rush things, just think of this photograph.
This ruined hydraulic cylinder was
the result of trying to rush through a job without being careful.
Work safely this season.