Tractor Tuesday - at last

Did the animals as quickly as possible before setting off to the agricultural equipment dealers to collect my nuts and bolts. Thought I would then do a quick walk with the dogs near the home of "Dr Bulldog" Jürgen. As I had to drive past the farm turned in to the yard and sure enough, he was there. Jürgen had a very bad accident on 13th August - he had taken his own tractor and slurry tank to the golf course where he works to water some of the fairways which were suffering badly with the drought. On a slope, the tractor started sliding on the ice rink baked ground, the weight of the full tank turning the tractor over with all four wheels in the air, the safety cage squashed and Jürgen underneath. He survived only because he has the stature of a bean and had fallen in the narrow gap between driving seat and mudguard. Not even a "slim" person would have had room. I had been told that he got very angry with the fire brigade as they started to cut away the rollover bars to get him out - he pleaded with them not to damage his beloved tractor! He confirmed the story! Several broken bones and cuts but amazingly nothing lasting. One hand is still in plaster and the wound is still partly open but making progress. A few cracks and breaks still have to repair themselves but he can get out and about.

Having the camera along I was able o show him the photos of the big oldtimer tractor meeting in Eutenhausen which he had missed and was able to identify the owner of the tractor I Bliped that day, giving me their email address and by evening I was able to send them the photos as well as get the OK to publish them!

Jürgen was going to be out and about near us in the afternoon and hoped to come by to inspect and above all help set up the new acquisition. Said our farewells as he went in for lunch and I left the car at his place to do the dog walk.

After our lunch and with no sign of Jürgen, I took the risk and hitched up the new acquisition. It's a digger of unknown age but has seen a few holes in its time. It seems to be made of two different diggers/cranes welded together. I hate to think what it weighs but it does give the impression of being very powerful. Luckily it has its own hydraulic pump run off the PTO as I am sure my John Deere couldn't cope with it.

Once connected was pleased to find the PTO shaft from my mower was a perfect fit. Then came the interesting part. Could the JD lift the digger ... ... well, sort of so long as I first used the bucket hydraulics to take the weight first. Although little could happen so long as the legs stayed close to the ground I was very nervous lifting up the bucket to the height on the photo. One can see the legs are then only just a few centimetres from the ground.

For my purposes, I think I can get by. Jürgen will probably be able to give me some help and perhaps coax a few more centimetres. I will only be using it around our property which means its all level. However until I win the lottery and buy a bigger tractor, I will restrict any digging to doing it in a straight line and will not test it an angle.

I would like to start soon with digging a trench about 50 meters long for a new hedge which will be a simple test although I am negotiating over eBay to get a much narrower bucket. The real test will come when I can find a wide shovel and set about ditch clearance work. Luckily it was done in the spring so I have time to practice. Wish son-in-law Barry was around as he is an ace with diggers and everything else mechanical, technical or practical in the garden.

This evening saw the report about the Norfolf farmer Paul Rackham auctioning off his 230 odd vintage tractors. Had Sky News on in the background and only because I caught the Norfolk accent did I look up to see the amazing site. Used to live close by and the Rackham name is very well known in the East Anglian farming world but I had never heard about the clooectin - quite amazing. Bet there is the odd machine on offer that could lift my digger!

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