Summer has finally gone! After the 65 degrees and clear skies we had on Thursday, and the 55 degrees and rain we had on Friday, and the partly cloudy 35 degree day yesterday, today we have snow. And in the 20s. And more coming. Yesterday, before the sun went down, I walked to the barn where I keep the heavy-duty stuff, and put the chains on the front wheels of the truck, checked the hook-up of the snow blade, and moved it to the house. Parked in front of the garage door, windshield covered with a plastic sheet, it was ready to do its job should the predicted snow come. (It did, but so far not even half an inch, so the truck remains where it is, ready but waiting.) Beside it is the old SUV (from before the term was coined), and like the truck, a four-wheel drive affair. Not having to plow in front of the garage doors will be a help, should the snow actually accumulate. Still down in the barn is a small garden tractor with its snow blade in place, ready should I need to clear the harder to reach parts of the driveway. While the truck is more than 30 years old, and the SUV is 25 years old, the little garden tractor is only about 18 years old.
I think about replacing all of these toys from time-to-time, but don’t. I did buy a replacement for the little tractor about 4 years ago. It was up-to-date with a larger engine, an “automatic” transmission and a cup holder. After five hours use, when it failed to perform some simple tasks, and in fact exposed me to a couple of near serious situations, I took it back, pulled my old one out of the back of the barn, made a few modifications and repairs, and I’m still using it. Oh, it takes a bit more maintenance than the new one should have, but it is dependable, simple, fixable, and more importantly, I can do it. It doesn’t have some efficient but mysterious drive train, or a delicate electronic system or fancy attachments, that’s true. And I can stick a water bottle in a pocket I’ve hung on the back of the seat (under the sheep skin that covers the tattered upholstery). It has blinking red lights on the back, so when I drive it down the road that separates the fields from the barn, should anyone be driving on the road, I can be seen (another mod I added years ago). And I know enough to be ready for it to stop or drop a belt or otherwise need assistance.
Yes, I have had to replace a few parts and belts over the years, and it doesn't run like it did when it was new, but then I don't treat it very well. I have stuck it in mud, locked up over rocks and stumps, pulled trailers and wood splitters, used it every winter to push snow. I have had to make a few modifications to keep it running, but the original tires are still on it, it starts right away if the battery isn't dead (had to replace it this month after about ten years), and although it occasionally leaves me stranded, and I have to walk back to the barn and get my recovery vehicle (my '49 Farmall Cub with a trailer set up with a ramp and a hand winch), it is the one the new one was supposed to replace. I will probably keep using it as long as I need something to mow and tow with.
Which gets down to the bottom line: I have old, more-or-less reliable equipment because, I guess, I'm old and more-or-less reliable, and we understand each other. I can fix whatever is wrong with any of that stuff, and if it isn't quite up to spec, well neither am I.
We just keep on rolling along.