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Machines with attitude – wipe that smirk off your engine

Kari Lynn Dell for Progressive Forage Published on 28 August 2017
farm equipment

Some scientists predict that within 20 years robots will have the ability to think for themselves. I know people who are freaked out by this idea, assuming the robots’ first thought will be that they could do a lot better job of running this planet than we are.

Personally, I haven’t been the boss of any of the machines in my life for so long that it’s hard to believe it can get a whole lot worse.

Take our arena tractor. Please. And while you’re at it, leave a brand-new skid steer loader in its place. Maybe it would start when I turn the key.

Actually, the arena tractor starts at least 75 percent of the time. Then I put it in gear and it dies. Occasionally it switches things up and dies as soon as I try to rev it up. Either way, it refuses to start again. Continued efforts to force it to do so result in flooding the engine, which means having to walk away for an hour before coming back to try again. Then at least half of the time the battery will be run down. This is when I go find my husband, who climbs on the tractor, turns the key, then gives me “the look” when the engine fires right up.

Don’t even try to tell me that tractor doesn’t have a mind of its own.

Same goes for the generator we haul along on rodeo trips so I can iron the shirts I grabbed straight out of the dryer while packing at the last possible moment and our son can microwave the pizza that is one of his four main food groups (the others being pancakes, sugar wafers and chocolate milk). My husband can give the cord on the generator one half-hearted tug and, vroom, it roars its little heart out. But when I gave it a try on Sunday morning, I got nothing. Not a single chug. I checked the choke. I checked the on switch (yes, from past experience). I checked the accelerator. All appeared to be in proper position. I yanked the cord again. And again. Nothing.

Half an hour later, Greg strolled over, yanked the cord and, vroom, off it went. I refuse to believe the stupid thing wasn’t just messing with me.

My life is packed full of machines with lousy attitudes. Garden tillers, farm tractors, hay rakes, swathers, even the dang air compressor – all of which practically stand up and salute when they see my husband coming. It is so unfair. He’s usually the one making them do all the work. If it was up to me, they’d stay parked while I lounged on the couch sipping sweet tea.

All I can say is, thank the stars for smartphones. If Greg’s smartphone didn’t occasionally decide to lock up and stick its tongue out at him, I’d never have a chance to wipe that smirk off his face.  end mark

Kari Lynn Dell is a third-generation cowgirl, horse trainer and rodeo competitor. She writes from her family ranch on Montana's Blackfeet Reservation. For information on her novels, short stories and other writing projects, visit her website.

PHOTO: Machines with lousy attitudes – including garden tillers, farm tractors, hay rakes, swathers and generators – are the bane of life. Photo by Kari Lynn Dell.

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