The news has been grim and somber the past few months, and I am not going to lie – it is getting me down.

It seems like just when we think things are turning around, another surprise comes around the corner. It is easy to get down during these times, and sometimes we just need a good laugh. This past week I had something happen to me, that while embarrassing was kind of funny. So here is a laugh at my expense (and eventually it will be very expensive).

Haying had been rolling right along with a minimum of break downs. and I was starting to feel pretty good about everything. I guess that was probably the problem – I was getting just a little too confident. I was mowing hay, there was a slight chance of rain in the forecast just like there had been for days. So far, I had missed the chances and had baled up some nice hay in perfect condition. I thought I had the world by the tail. I was getting pretty good at this haying thing. That is what overconfidence will do to you.

I had just finished one field and was going to knock a few more acres down when it happened. I came to the field entrance and put my foot on the clutch. Nothing happened. After a brief moment of panic, I yanked the gear shift back and took the tractor out of gear. The clutch pedal was completely without resistance and I knew my mowing was done for the day. I called the mechanic hoping it was just the linkage for the clutch and not the clutch itself.

The mechanic made it out the next day and informed me that I was not that lucky. The clutch was indeed out of my tractor, and they would have to take it back to the shop. I was going to be without my tractor for quite a while. That meant one thing: I was going to have to switch the tractor on the baler back and forth from the mower. Not a big deal, just an inconvenience. First, I had to pull the broken tractor away from the mower. Not a big deal or hard to do, unless you are me.

I enlisted my landlord to help me. I was in the broken tractor and the landlord was pulling me in the pickup. He eased the truck into the chain and nothing happened – nothing but the truck spinning. He stopped, I reassessed the situation and thought maybe I did not have everything out of gear. Making sure all the gear shifts were in neutral, we tried it again. Again the truck spun its tires and nothing happened. Perplexed we reevaluated the problem once again making sure everything was out of gear, tires were straight, mower was unhooked and there should be no earthly reason the tractor would not move.

One more time and again it was like my pickup had hit a brick wall. Now I was worried about what might be wrong with the tractor and just how we were going to load it on a trailer. This was going to be even more expensive and harder than I had anticipated.

I was down in the dumps. Life suddenly was not good. I thanked my landlord for his help and told him I was going to think about what it might be. On the way home I called the mechanic and talked to him. At first, he was perplexed too, and we went through all the possible scenarios. It was out of gear, no obstructions, out of four-wheel drive, etc. He could not think of any reason it would not move, and that was not good.

Then he paused. “Did you take the emergency brake off?” he asked.

Immediately I knew the answer. No, I had not. He must have thought it was my first day on the tractor and had to be wondering what kind of dummy he was dealing with. I turned around, picked my landlord up once again, explained what I had done and saw him get a good chuckle out of my stupidity. We hooked the tractor up once again, and when the parking brake was disengaged it rolled right along. I do not know what was redder, me or the tractor.

The tractor was loaded up later in the week and now is in the shop getting fixed. I continued to mow hay with the other tractor and finished with my brome yesterday. I guess life is still good, if not a little bit more expensive.

I did learn two things this week. The first was not to gloat about how well things are going until you are done and the other was not to take yourself too seriously. Sometimes you just have to laugh, and that is what I hope this little story did for your day.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at