January’s Hint of Spring

Reader Contribution by Mary carton
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After a colder than normal November and our first white Christmas and ten inches of snow January 10 which stayed around for over a week, I was ready for the 63  forecasted temperature for the last Saturday in January.  I wanted to get my tractor ready for work. 

That morning I made a trip to the John Deere dealer in Leighton and picked up a couple of oil filters for my tractor. On the way home I swung by a landscaping supply company in Spring Valley and picked up a truckload of composted manure and unloaded it down along the creek behind the wireless fence out of arms reach or should I say teeth reach of the hooligans.  I’ve learned the hard way not to leave bags of manure where the kids can get to it unless it’s in a spot where I need it scattered.  One evening I was closing the blinds on one of the windows, and I noticed my 3 playing thug of war with a composted cow manure plastic bag in the front yard. Worried that they would ether eat it or scattered bits of plastic all over the yard, I turned the alarm off and went outside, picked it up and threw it in the trash.  I thought I had just forgotten to throw away the one I emptied earlier.  The next morning it was dark when I left for work, and everything seemed normal.  However when I got home, there in the middle of the driveway was the contents of the 40 pound bag I have put in the trash can the night before..  They had drug it from the flower bed where I intended to use it and ripped it open in the middle of the driveway.  They were complaining they wanted supper, but I made them wait until I had shoveled and brushed it all back into the flower bed where they needed to dump it in the first place. 

 After unloading the truck my attention turned to changing the oil and lubricating the JD.  I cranked up the air compressor and attached the grease gun and only greased one plug before running out of grease.  I turned the compressor off and dug out a new tube of grease, took out the empty one out of the gun and placed the new in the gun.  After pulling the tab off of the other end I noticed I hadn’t gotten it in all the way and couldn’t get the gun screwed on because of it.  When I tried to push it in a little bit more I accidently push the leaver at the other end of the tube and shot several inches of  grease out of the tube into the loader bucket before I could pull the plunger back out. After getting the mess cleaned up I got all of the grease plugs lubricated, at least I hope.  When I find my owners manual, I’ll make sure.  Not being able to get the owners manual on line from JD without having to pay for it is the only thing I don’t like about my tractor.  If you spend that kind of money buying a tractor at least they could let you download the manual or give you a CD. It would be cheaper to do the CD instead of paying the printing costs.  

 Next my attention turned to changing the oil.  The John Deere 3032E I bought replaced a 20 hp Yanmar that I had for over 12 years.  With my bad back I wanted to put a loader on it to help with the lifting but it wasn’t a 4WD and decided against it. Several years ago I came up with an idea to help me remember which direction to take the filter and oil plug off and the wrench size to use from one change to the other.  I have black and white Elmers Painters pens for labeling the take off direction on the end of the oil filter and also the date.  I also label the tractor with an arrow right above the oil plug to indicate the take off direction when I change the oil.  These pens are found the craft and hobby stores and come in a narrow and medium point.  I like the medium for labeling the filters and making large plant tag labels in the garden.  The fine tip I use on the small plastic labels for pots such as orchids or African violets. For making plant tags the black ink is more permanent.  I’ve had trouble with other colors especially the blue wearing off in the weather. 

After the oil finished draining I got my filter wrench and tried to get the filter off. Well the wrench was a little bit too small.  I called Mom next door and asked her if she had kept Dad’s wrenches and she said she had.  When I walked over to her house she handed me a radiator clamp.  I called the other two neighbors and they weren’t at home, so I made a trip to the auto store in Tuscumbia.  I’m glad I took my wrench with me as when I told him I needed one just a little bit larger, he had a whole wall of various types and sizes.  Just as I got the old filter off and the new one put on it started to rain. 

 Spring is fast approaching.  Last week’s storms have brought daffodils, Lenten rose, tulip magnolia trees, flowering crab apples and Bradford pear trees into bloom seemingly overnight.  Last fall I planted several new varieties of daffodils around one side of my former vegetable garden that I’m converting to daylily and oriental lily beds. I found out that the composted manure is made from chicken litter which is great for fertilizing bulbs.  In the bottom of each planting hole I put a little of the compost and cover the bulb.  The next day I found every bulb sitting out beside the hole it used to be in, so that afternoon was spent replanting those.  The next day I found them out of the holes again. Come the next day they were not only out of the holes, but tossed into the beds.  I’ll find out this spring if I got the same varieties back together or not. Some how I have a feeling I’ll be doing some more digging. 

If you would like to read some of what the kids  got into last year, check out the hooligan’s letter to Santa I posted on Christmas Day on my personal blog. 

Tues is the last day to vote for Levi in the Bissell MVP photo contest. He’s trying to win $10,000 for an animal charity of his choice.  

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