I got my wish. We had a white Christmas down at the Osage County, Kansas farm. The ice pellets that I drove home in on Christmas Eve turned into snow by supper time. The wind howled, first from the north and then from the west. The cedars to the north and west of the house protected us from the bitter brunt and contributed to the substantial drifts that greeted me on Christmas morning. It was a glorious morning – still blowing and still snowing.
In spite of the wind and cold, it was a lovely white Christmas morning and I thought it fitting to celebrate by giving the animals an extra ration of feed and tossing an extra 1500-pound round bale of hay to the hogs – how they love to tear those bales apart, eating and sleeping the day away. I also figured the white Christmas chores would be a lot easier to complete if I didn’t need to trudge through knee-deep drifts, and the footing would be firmer if I bladed and shoveled out the gates. So I decided to trade the loader-equipped Kubota tractor’s utility bucket for the purpose-built snow-bucket. I’d need the tractor later to move big round bales of hay – so there wouldn’t be any harm in pushing a little snow first, right?
Perplexed as I was that quick-attaching the snow bucket to the tractor’s loader didn’t go too quick, I was preparing to make the first lane-clearing pass when I noticed that the tractor’s right front tire was not only flat, but it was only partially on the rim.
No wonder the loader-arms were uneven as I presented them to the snow bucket – neatly stored in a level place.
Suddenly, firing up the Kubota for some white-Christmas morning seat time didn’t look like that great of an idea.
I knew what to do – but I didn’t really want to have to do it.
Using the loader as a jack, I raised the tractor’s front axle and removed the offending wheel and horsed it back to the shop. The tire went onto the rim with only a mild sweat, in spite of the fact that it was stiff from the cold. The tire’s beads swelled out to the rim sufficiently that it sealed, once I wrapped and tightened two binder straps around the tire’s edges and pounded on the tread with a mallet. A few minutes with the compressor pumping high-pressure air into the works and soon enough, the wheel and tire were ready to go back on the tractor. The entire process went so well that it was a little like magic.
With only a half hour interruption, the day developed into a white Christmas celebration that exceeded any of my expectations. The animals seemed pleased, my loved ones seemed pleased and I was pleased.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.