Tractor Fire!

18 Oct

On the farm here, we have many jobs that we do together as a family.  Being able to work alongside each other and help one another is a privilege that we don’t take for granted.  It is priceless to us.  One of those in the spring of the year is rock picking.

Rock picking is hard dirty work, especially if we have a lot of them to pick.  Most years it takes three to six days to pick them all.  If we don’t pick the rocks, they are very hard on the crop harvesting equipment and that can get to be very expensive.  So we gladly go out into our fields and pick them.

Sometimes the totally unexpected happens.  Sometimes it’s a nice surprise and other times it isn’t.  A while back, we had one of those surprises that wasn’t so nice.

When we go rock picking we put one of our older, smaller tractors on the trailer that we use to throw the rocks into.  This spring we had our old dependable Farmall Super M on it.  On this particular day, I got the Super M out of the shed with the trailer hooked behind it.  I drove it up by the house to pick up Joanne and the kids.

Joanne, being the wonderful wife and mother that she is, would always pack a light lunch with some treats and something to drink.  A lot of times she would take a two liter bottle of pop along to drink.  On this day though, she did it different.  She poured the pop into a thermos jug instead.  I was surprised she did it, but she thought it would be nicer to drink out of.

We got loaded up and headed down the road to the field.  Since it was a half mile to our field road, I put the tractor in “road gear” and gave it full throttle – wide open.  It didn’t take long to get down to our field road at that speed.  But just before I got to the field road, flames started to shoot out from under the hood!  I had never had an experience like this before in my life.  I got the tractor off of the blacktop road and onto the field road as fast as I could and hit the brakes.  I jumped off the tractor and asked Joanne for the thermos.  It wasn’t much to fight a fire with, but it was all that I had.  I ran up alongside the tractor engine where the flames were bellowing out by now.  It was a dangerous situation since the flames were getting close to the gas tank.  I took the top off of the thermos and thrust the pop up under the hood with great force aiming it at the exhaust manifold which seemed to be the hottest part of the fire.

I was amazed at the results.  It nearly quenched the whole fire!  I set the thermos down and unhooked the hood as fast as I could and lifted it up.  I knew I didn’t have any time to waste, since I didn’t have any more pop to use if it flared up again.  Once I got the hood up, I saw the reason for the fire.

Some very industrious birds had taken a bunch of sticks and dry hay and built a big nest on top of the exhaust manifold.  When the manifold got hot it started the large nest on fire.  I reached up in there with gloves on and cleaned out the rest of the nest and got the fire put out completely.

Breathing a lot easier now, I put the hood back down and picked up the thermos.  My good jug was busted.  Apparently, I hit it hard on the tractor when I threw the pop up in.  Our thermos was junk and our pop for the day was gone, but we were all so thankful that the fire was out.  We had saved our old dependable Super M and none of us had gotten hurt.  The only damage to it was that the hood was darkened from the fire.

What were Joanne and the kids doing while I fought the fire?  Praying.  It pays to pray!  We pray over ourselves, our farm and equipment every day.   We know our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and answers them.  If He didn’t, we wouldn’t pray.   I think it’s a miracle that Joanne put the pop in the thermos that day, because she never did that before!  If it would have been in the bottle, I could never have gotten it up onto the fire.  Furthermore, to put out that large of a fire with just two litters of pop is almost unbelievable.  But our God does the unbelievable when we pray!  I like what the Bible says in Eph. 3:20, “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”  I’m so glad to know a loving God that does!

Tom Heck, his wife Joanne, and their two children, Catherine and Joshua, own and operate a 35 cow, 159 acre dairy farm in northwestern WI.  Contact Tom at:  Copyright © 2012 by Tom Heck.  All rights reserved.