Friday, 2 May 2014

The Run Around

John Deere 5310 Tractor clutch
With John Deere Bob still tractor-less due to the clutch problem, I am by now, pretty much his own private driver. He needs to get down to check on his cattle each day and get to the shops and Post Office, the old boy, and he is also a fiercely independent type of bloke and must be going stir-crazy without his usual transport, so I am happy to help.  When Bob phones for a 'taxi' these runs normally go as advertised - "Could you take me to Lisacul?" and off we go to Lisacul. It's quick and of minimal inconvenience. But not yesterday. Yesterday a simple run turned into a Somerville and Ross style, farcical adventure worthy of a blog post, so I thought I would share it with you.

2 day old Hubbard Chick
Bob had taken a call from his repair man, Jim B which he understood to say that his tractor was fixed and he could come and collect it. I was half way through assembling my lunchtime sandwich but thought it would be so quick I'd take Bob to Jim's and leave the sandwich to complete on my return. Off we went, with Bob even saying that we needn't go 'lookering' first because he'd be able to do that in the repaired tractor. Something made me decide to stay with Bob till he had the keys in his hands and the tractor running, rather than just drop him and flee - he has no mobile, so would have been left stuck at Jim's if the tractor proved not to be ready.

The "Dirty Dozen" our new Hubbard chicks.
We could both see, as we walked in, that the tractor was still in bits, the front and rear halves separated and the 'guts' hanging out. No, said Jim, I didn't say the tractor was ready, only the clutch is ready and you can collect it from Brogan's in Ballintober, about 10 km beyond our nearby town of Castlerea. Now, a tractor clutch is not your simple disk and springs like you'd have in a car. It is a massive heavy assembly of casings, discs and sprung levers about 15 inches across, 6 inches 'deep' and weighing 30 kg or so. I could barely lift it. I am not sure how Jim thought Bob (70) was going to manage it, but that was now our mission. Oh, and it was going to cost €700 just for the part. Brogan's and Jim's labour would be on top of that, so we were going to need to find a bank.

As we approached Brogan's, Bob started looking nervously at his watch. Most garages, trades shops and the like have a genuine lunch hour in these places, shutting up shop from 1 pm to 2 pm. It was 13:03 as we pulled in to Brogan's yard and overalled mechanics were leaving in droves. We were looking at having to wait an hour in the road outside. BUT as we only needed to collect our bit and hand over €700, Mr Brogan was more than happy to do that before he closed. That was one plus-point in this tale. I lugged the cardboard box containing this mighty part to the car.

Heading back to Castlerea Bob voiced the need to find a bank and also said that the bank's lunch hour was 12:30 to 13:30, so we'd need to kill 20 minutes or so. He offered to treat me to lunch. Hester's, he suggested. This happens to be my favourite restaurant locally for my ideal Irish meal, 'bacon and cabbage'. 2nd plus point. We sprinted through a downpour from car to the Hotel and ate gratefully and hungrily - Bob has a hearty appetite too, and piled into his turkey and ham. Next to the bank where Bob drew out the extra money needed.

A first glimpse of Goldie's (rabbit) kittens at 3 days old.
From there 'home' to Jim's where we handed over the clutch only for Jim to heft it out of its box and declare, "You need to go back above, the PTO disc is not here!" (The local idiom is a bewildering mixture of 'over yonder', 'away above', 'beyond below' and other direction and elevation phrases which bear no relation to the longitude or altitude of destinations). Bob was a bit irritated by this and made the mistake, in his own calm, patient, quiet spoken way of suggesting that if he'd known he was going to get this much hassle he'd have had the job done in Brogan's. Unbeknownst to me he had already told Jim that our mutual friend 'Mike the Cows' had helpfully told Bob he could have done the job for €500. Jim had a melt down shouting and swearing, kicking cardboard boxes across the floor and letting fly a stream of invective which was mostly too fast and in such a powerful accent that I missed all bar the last three words which were " Fuck yeh!" as he stomped off from the garage and went round to his house. He was not happy. Bob tells me he is not generally like this and was "cross" because he must be having a bad day.

New 2 m 'tan' birch trees.
There was nothing for it but to head back to Ballintober and try to collect the part, both of us having fits of laughter at the theatrical anger of Jim. Bob kept referring to it in the car, rubbing his hands together and chuckling in his wheezy hissed laugh. We also had to go via Bob's so that he could change out of his wellies and into normal shoes. Oh, and could we also go check on the cows as he'd now need to do that from the car. From the cows then, to Bob's and back to Ballintober where Mr Brogan quickly found the missing part, the PTO disc (this one thankfully light and much smaller than the clutch itself). Mr B also had a laugh about Jim's meltdown, saying "He's a mean man today... It's thankful that he never grew up to be a big fella!" Back next towards Jim's but now Bob got cold feet about facing Jim's wrath and suggested that I drop him off at home and then drop the PTO disc to Jim's on my own. He even mischievously suggested that I stir Jim up by passing on Mr Brogan's message. No thank you, Bob. Well, Jim's beef had not been with me, so I guessed he'd be calmed down and, anyway, OK with me. So it proved. Jim tried a theatrical scowl as our Fiat pulled in to the yard again but his face split into a grin when he saw it was only me in the car. "Bob too scared to come back then?" he guessed.

So that was that. Jim had his part and had calmed down enough to laugh heartily at the fit he'd thrown. "He vexes me so!" said Jim, "He's on the phone every half an hour!" Ah well. No harm done. I had a nice chat with Jim telling him all about our rebuild of TK-Min's place and asking him about his garage and his work. He mainly does 4 wheel drive transmissions and big stuff like engine changes. We parted on the best of terms and it only remained for me to report back to Bob to let him know everybody was best friends again. Bob was still chuckling about the adventure today when we went out on today's mercifully short 'lookering' run.

Other than the clutch pic at the top of this post, the pictures today have nothing to do with Bob or his tractor parts. They are a quick way of saying that we have started another batch of Hubbard chicks, with big thanks to Anne and Simon for their pilgrimage up to the Border to collect ours as well as batches for other 'customers'. Secondly we have now seen a first glimpse of Goldie the rabbit's 'kittens' and thirdly we have now received from Carolyn and K-Dub a delivery of 'tan' birch trees which we have planted in the small copses we are starting around the pond garden.

No comments: