When people commented on Facebook that we should turn our lives into a sitcom, several tractor episodes sprang immediately to mind. Tigger is our tractor. Someday after I win the lottery, inherit a fortune and rob a bank, I will have her paint job redone in orange with black stripes and perhaps a cute Tigger face painted on her cowling. Why Tigger? All one needs to do is take a ride around the property to understand. She is bouncy, jouncy, pouncy, flouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun…
Heck! Just buying Tigger was a real adventure. We knew we needed to buy a tractor, so David, my “more of a sitcom husband in real life than anything Hollywood writers could think of” husband did what he always does—he did research. David’s nickname is “The Research King.” I can’t tell you how many brochures we have collected over the years for things we will probably never buy because he wanted to know more just in case someday he ever does decide to buy one of those things and thank God we have a brochure for it (if we can actually find the brochure) because it might prevent us from buying the wrong thing and thereby avert almost certain disaster… When I bought our truck, he called horse trailer dealers all over the west coast and asked them what kind of truck they thought we should buy based on their horse hauling experiences. You can see why he is the perfect sitcom husband. Fortunately for us, the Internet has eliminated the need for a larger house to hold all of our brochures.
And the hell of it is that he is right. I can’t make as much fun of him as I’d like to because he often uncovers facts that help us make better decisions. So he went on the Internet and decided that we should purchase a Kubota tractor because Kubota is the gold standard of tractors. They hold their value well, they are widely available and unlike the tractors made in Korea or India or Poland (yes, there are even those), parts and service are widely available and the company (and/or country) doesn’t seem likely to go belly up anytime soon. We also decided we need something around 45 horsepower to do the work we need done. So one day, we drove around to tractor dealerships and looked at Kubota’s. Mostly we looked at new 25 horsepower tractors, because these are what the dealers have in stock. Seems everybody wants one of those “cute little tractors” not realizing that they can’t do a whole hill of beans unless you are lucky enough to live on, well, a hill of beans which are really easy to dig in. Plus new 45’s cost a whole lot more. Hmmm… Maybe we should be looking for a used tractor?
This is when we discovered one of the absolute truths of tractor ownership. A certain percentage of tractor buyers are perfectly happy with their 25 horse power tractors because they probably didn’t need to move much dirt anyway and just wanted it to prove to their neighbors that they are real heavy equipment stud muffins. But the percentage like us—they know what they want—they have work to do—they want a bigger tractor! So they move up. The smart ones go sink a boatload of money into a used skip loader or backhoe that a construction company is selling off and are done for life. Many, though, move up to a 45. And then they discover?—they want a bigger tractor! Unfortunately, although you might think the expression “boatload of money” is hyperbole, it is not. Still, there are a lucky few who will have the wherewithal to move up again and they will sell off their used 45 horsepower tractors. So there are used 45’s out there to be had, only there is a large segment of dissatisfied 25 horsepower owners out there waiting cat-like, to pounce as soon as they go on the market. This doesn’t work well for David at all—he likes to think about things. He likes to do his research.
We had five or six tractors sold out from under us before we could even go look at them. Soon, we learned the correct language to use:
“Hi, I see you have a used 45 HP tractor for sale. Here is my credit card number. Please hold it for me—I’m on the way now.”
We actually found one in San Bernadino. We were working out the logistics of having it trucked to us. We faxed the credit application. The nice lady on the phone said “Okay, everything is in order. All I need to do now is go look up the serial number of the tractor…”
Um… yeah… she couldn’t find it. It was filed off. The tractor was stolen.
Turns out the tractor was stolen when it was brand new. This was the fourth “owner.” He had no idea. But really, the tractor belonged to Kubota. We wanted it anyway. Would they sell it to us? Sort of, but it would take some time to file all of the proper paperwork, blah, blah, blah. Then… later that same day, another 45 HP tractor came up for sale in Klamath Falls. We gave them our credit card number, borrowed a truck (too heavy for mine), borrowed a trailer and left for Klamath Falls about 4 the next morning. By one o’clock, we were the proud owners of Tigger. About an hour out of Klamath Falls, we stopped to let the dogs pee and David checked that the serial numbers matched—whew! Not stolen.
Wow! That’s a whole episode right there. There will have to be another one where we discover that we “need” at least one of every implement made for a tractor (and how much they cost). There is definitely an episode about the time we got the auger stuck in the clay and practically had to disassemble the tractor to get it out (and then actually bent the auger). There has got to be one about all of the crazy things you can do with a tractor that you didn’t think you could do. And I’m pretty sure there’s an episode entitled “things you should not do with your tractor.” And if you know anybody who is selling a nice 70 to 100 Horsepower used Kubota, I have a credit card number just waiting for them.