Our tractor is now starting. It also sounds like something that would be at home on a battlefield.
We know, however, that with a bit of adjustment to the distributor (an nth of degree, apparently), it should/will be running sweetly again.
So how did the man get it sorted? The answer was through my last blog post ‘Tractor Woes’ which resulted in two readers who were mechanics shaking their heads in disbelief at our ‘replace likely stuffed parts until it goes’ approach. And not only did they shake their heads and roll their eyes, they decided to give us some advice on how to diagnose the problem a wee bit more efficiently!
And damn me, using these experts’ expertise was the key, and we now have a tractor that is showing signs of life!
And we are are missing it. A tractor is, after all, a must- have item for townies new to country life, along with the ride on mower and a chainsaw.
The man and I did our research when we bought it – those new-fangled tractors looked just the ticket, but realistically they were for proper farming folks, not pretend ones like us. And besides, new heavy duty farm machinery was a tad overkill for our three acre block, not to mention the eye-watering price tag for those magnificent machines being way beyond our purse!
After much looking around, the man decided on a Massey Ferguson 35. Circa 1960, this model had a reputation for being a reliable machine and was perfectly priced for our budget – read cheap here.
We duly purchased one. It was the required red – the colour of most tractors in children’s picture books! It also had the ubiquitous PTO. It didn’t have the front end loader blade which the man had wanted, but he was willing to compromise and this one had a hydraulic tray which was a win too in his eyes.
Four years on, we can honestly say that the tractor has been an asset around the property. Sure, we don’t use it daily, but it is handy for all measures of lifestyle block requirements such as pulling out old tree stumps, shifting firewood, and towing old logs around, plus playing on (carefully) when our city friends visit.
Recently we made the decision to start looking around to buy a mower attachment for it. The reason being that we need to keep our paddocks in check, as there are no livestock grazing on the land at present.
So when the tractor failed to start, the man decided it must be fixed. Yes, he and Mr Google are on the case. They are taking a systematic approach to tractor repair- this involves systematically replacing pieces until it starts. So far and in no particular order, we have purchased new spark plugs, distributor cap, and high tension leads. Today we bought a new solenoid, and, still it doesn’t start!
The next thing on the list is an ignition switch. And maybe a Massey Ferguson 35 workshop manual, which could prove mighty handy at times like this.
I know this is a bit of a hit and miss approach to mechanics, but one day in the not too distant future, this approach will work and the tractor will splutter into life again and with all its new parts, it should be sweet for another few years!
Our feelings at the time were a mixture of sadness and relief. Sadness because she had been ours for ten years and we had had some fun times in her. Relief? Well, relief was due to a multiple of reasons, but the primary one was that for the last four years we had not used her as we should, and we felt guilty we hadn’t!
No, the poor old thing had sat on a mooring in Parua Bay growing weed (not the illegal stuff, by the way) and getting used by the (insert the rudest word you know here) swallows as their home and ablution block. None of this was pretty.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, in the last couple of years the Mediterranean fan worm had infiltrated the bay and every unsuspecting hull floating there had been under attack. This resulted in the Northern Regional council employing dive teams to check the hulls and work out a remediation programme for each contaminated vessel. Once the programme was completed, the boat was then certified and allowed to go into other marinas and areas (no waterway wants fanworm to take up residence!).
The first year we got notification we had fan worms, we had to pay some divers to remove them from the hull; this last year we dealt with them when the boat was hauled for maintenance.
So there we have it, our lovely boat was unused and deteriorating and costing us quite a few $$. The sensible solution was to sell her. This is, of course, easier said than done: boats are notoriously hard to sell. Indeed, we had had a couple of attempts previously with no joy.
We were, however, determined to sell her this time around. Firstly though, we needed to get her looking cared for and loved again. She was hauled in June last year and the man set to work to get her up to scratch. Over a four months period, he worked week days upon her. This included replacing some rot, painting her topsides and antifouling her hull. Our sail cover had fallen to pieces so we commissioned a new one of these. The engine required some work so a marine engineer was employed to do this. Parts were shipped in from overseas.
With hardstand fees and maintenance costs, getting her up to scratch was far from a cheap exercise. We also couldn’t add the cost of this to the sale price of the boat and had to absorb this expense- no surprises there, it is a boat, after all! Luckily, the man’s labour came gratis.
When she was nearing completion, we popped her on NZ Trademe (for overseas readers, this is the NZ counterpart of Craigslist or ebay, I think). We wrote the ad carefully – we pointed out her amazing cruising history, including being part of NZ Peace Flotilla that went to Mururoa in 1995 (see Steinlager ad on NZ TV at the moment), her circumnavigation, her gun running story, and the link to the book about these adventures.**We also pointed out her live aboard potential.
We priced her well – that point between so dear as to be unrealistic and so cheap one wonders what is wrong with it! Within a couple days of putting the ad up, we had had a few nibbles. We had two lots come through her, and both wished to buy her.
We sold her for less than we asked. This is par for the course, and is the cost we were willing to pay to move forward. We thought it was worth it!
We also sold her to the best possible people ever. A young Australian couple, they are intending to head to the northwest coast of Canada with another couple of boats and settle there in a couple of years.* Meanwhile, they are living aboard her with their husky and cat during the week and heading out most weekends and holidays exploring the Hauraki Gulf. We are following their adventures on social media.
Every time we drive past the mooring where Te Kaitoa sat for the last four years, the man and I no longer need to look and check her out. She is, after all, in Little Shoal Bay, Auckland, where she is being looked after, used and loved as she should be. A perfect ending for us and a perfect beginning for them.
Safe and happy adventures on Te Kaitoa, Tash and Pat.
*We have been invited up to Canada for a sail when they get there. We do intend to take them up on their offer.
With another summer of very little rain, our water is now down to under a quarter in our main 6000 gallons tank. Our second tank of 5000 gallons is sitting at about three quarters full.
Yesterday the man made the decision to take all our water from the back up tank. The man also thought that a bit of maintenance wouldn’t go amiss, so he decided to do a filter clean at the same time he did the swap over.
At about noon, I received a text from the man to say that all had gone well. He also mentioned in passing that the water pressure wasn’t crash hot. Now to those who have experienced the joy of showering at our home, you will realise the man’s comment about the pressure was worrying as it is terrible at its best! At this stage, I put on my Pollyanna hat and thought it would come right.
I was wrong. It went from bad to worse.
When I arrived home from work, the man greeted me with the words ‘We have no water to the house’. He followed this up with, ‘We will have to get the pump guys as I think the pump is …. (insert your own choice word here)
I knew in a trice that this was going to be a very expensive exercise; firstly, because it was going to attract an after hours call out fee, and, secondly, we would be in for hefty travel costs too as we live in the back of beyond. I was far from happy.
I also knew as I ran my fingers through my hair that desperately needed a wash that we had absolutely no alternative but to get it fixed as soon as possible.
And as I faced the realism of a huge budget blow out this week, I remembered that son No.1 was most of his way through his water reticulation qualification and knew a thing or two about water and pumps. So we did the sensible thing and called upon his services.
And low and behold, in an hour or so, son No 1 had fixed the issues and we had running water again. We also had a pump and water filter that had had their yearly maintenance. Oh, and the water pressure? Sadly, this is a blog, rather than a fairy tale, so it is still pathetic!
This morning the man and I dismantled what was left of our vegetable plot. With another summer season of virtually no rain, plus the possums, rabbits, rats and a variety of other pests destroying our plants at every opportunity, it was time to wave the white flag of surrender.
The garden will be converted back to grass and I will buy all my vegetables in this season. Fortunately, there is a local gardener who sells their surplus, and an amazing farmer’s market on a Saturday morning in Whangarei to buy from. I have no doubt these alternatives will be more cost effective too.
I haven’t given up completely on growing vegetables though. I do intend to twist the man’s arm and get him to build me a small raised vegetable garden closer to the house in autumn. This bijou garden will only have things that flourish and that we like to eat. I am over wasting my time, money, and precious water on plants that don’t meet this criteria!
I might have lost the war with vegetables this season, but it looks like I am winning the battle with a lemon tree. This citrus tree was planted about three years ago and became a pathetic, stick-like thing with one or two leaves.
About 8 weeks ago, I dug around it and threw in some worm farm compost and citrus fertiliser in a last ditch effort to save it; or, possibly, kill it. Once I had added the fertiliser, I put the soil back, and watered the tree well. I then put mulch around the base, and left it to its own devices. Today I am happy to report, my once sad lemon is looking healthy with a lovely lot of new growth on it.
Sometimes my gardening efforts pay dividends; other times, they simply don’t.
One of the things the man and I have derived great enjoyment out of is the birth of the lambs in spring. The drought, however, put paid to this happening this year.
Yes, the ram had done his thing and the ewes were pregnant, but, sadly, the lack of rain meant that by August we were fast running out of grass, so our tame farm manager made the decision to move the flock to (another person’s) greener fields.
When we metaphorically waved goodbye to the sheep that day, we thought they would be back as soon as the grass had recovered. This didn’t happen, and instead the grass grew longer and longer, and, if that wasn’t enough, the blasted carrot weed decided to make an unwelcome reappearance too.
However, all was not lost. A couple of weeks ago, our tame farm manager turned up with two steers and a ram. These have settled into our paddocks well and are munching their way through the grass and carrot weed with dedicated enthusiasm.
Of course, the steers are nowhere near as cute as the lambs, but they also don’t escape through the fences at every opportunity either!
As for the ram, well, he is best mate’s with the steers – in fact, there is a good chance he thinks he is one!