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Flat-out frustrated with vehicle problems
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Dust on the Dashboard

Flat-out frustrated with vehicle problems

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 editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

Batteries and tires are the bane of my existence. It seems like I always have something that needs tires or has a dead battery.

In the case of the battery, I do not know how many times I have had a dead battery and I would swear that I had just replaced that one only to look on the battery and see that it is 10 years old.

I doubt that there are very many months that go by when I do not buy either a battery or tires, and often it is both. At least it seems that way.

It also seems like if one vehicle on our farm needs a set of tires, they all need a set of tires. Instead of spreading out the joy over several months, they all come at once. Last month we put tires on our car only to have a rash of flats on our UTV. I knew I needed to replace the tires soon, but I guess that three flats in two days is a strong indicator that either your tires are worn out or you have made someone mad. Judging by the various ways that the tires went flat, I think we can rule out sabotage.

The car tires came on the heels of replacing the tires on the feed truck. Did I mention that I also replaced the battery on the feed truck after it left me stranded in the parking lot of the grocery store? I would have guessed the battery to be less than two years old, when it was, in fact, six years old. I guess time flies when you are having fun.

We have not even tried to start the combine. I know I put batteries in it in 2019, or was that 2018 or maybe 2017? At least I know the tires are all holding air – for now.

Enough of the combine, let’s get back to my current battery/tire crisis. It started with a blown tire on the feed truck. Admittedly, those tires did look bad. My whole goal with them was to try to get through the summer and put the new set on right before we start feeding in the fall. Jennifer pointed out that I have had that plan for each of the prior two sets of tires and it did not work then either. Maybe it is time for a new plan.

The tires on the car were not the same case. It is what Jennifer drives to work each day and what we drive on longer trips, so we try to keep good tires on it. A flat on the car would be a bigger crisis than a flat on the feed truck. I am sure many of you can relate to that.

Our only dilemma was: do we replace the tires or trade the car. We decided on new tires rather than a car payment.

The tires on the UTV fell into my theory of “wait until fall and then we will have new tires going into winter” – much like the theory for the pickup. I know it has never worked so far, but someday it will work like I planned. My plan could not be wrong; it is everything else associated with the universe that is not right. In any case, the three flat tires on the UTV were a somewhat clear indicator that the tires may be worn out.

As I take inventory, it would seem that all of the tires on all of my vehicles, tractors, the combine, and various other wheeled implements are good – or at least I think they are good. And most have been replaced in the last year, or maybe two or at least in the last decade.

The batteries are a little more dubious. To my memory (and that never fails) they are all fairly new – except for the ones that are not, and they are probably dead.

All I know is there are few things in my life more frustrating than getting in a motorized vehicle and finding a dead battery. There’s nothing more frustrating, with the possible exception of going to use something and finding a flat tire. Next on the list of frustrations is the flat tire out in the middle of nowhere. That’s because it either went flat fast or the operator forgot to check before leaving the yard.

I know that dead batteries and flat tires are just part of farming. We are cursed to have so many different batteries and tires that some are bound to be flat or dead, and often one vehicle will have both. Of course, I am not counting the self-inflicted dead battery I had earlier this spring. I might have robbed the battery out of the lawn mower to use on an electric fence and forgotten to replace it.

I also know this is a first world problem and one that our ancestors did not have. I wonder if a horse throwing a shoe is just as frustrating. Well, I have to go because I need to go pick up the new tires for the UTV. That is, of course, if I can find anything that will start.

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 editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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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 editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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