Monday, November 15, 2010

Boys and their Toys (part 1)

As the sun beat down on us in early August, Dave and I started thinking about the most logical topic to come to mind-- snow removal. Unlike when we lived in downtown Moncton, we knew that shovels and muscles just weren't going to do the job here on the farm. We thought about getting a plow blade for our ride-on lawnmower, but worried that the mower might not be up to the job. Then, we weighed the pros and cons of getting an ATV with a plow attachment; but in the end, we decided that buying a tractor would be much more practical. A tractor would give us the means, not just to move snow, but to spread manure, turn the manure pile and do various other manure-related tasks. If only I'd known then what kind of "manure" we were really getting ourselves into.

Sometime in August

During the spring and for much of the summer, our drives into down brought us past a blue and white tractor with a "for sale" sign taped to the window. At first, we didn't give this antiquated looking piece of machinery much thought, but as we contemplated the winter months to come, I wondered whether it might be just the snow-removal tool we were looking for.

One day, another sign appeared on the side of the tractor listing the for-sale price as $3700. It also mentioned the tractor's age...I believe it dated to 1972. I mentioned this to Dave. We agreed that it seemed like a bit too much money for a 38 year old, well-loved, piece of farm equipment. We left it at that.

Soon after, we started seriously looking for tractors. After scrolling through Kijiji's online ads, we were surprised to find that $3700 was actually a pretty darned good deal for a tractor of that vintage. We decided to check it out. The next morning, on my way to work, I prepared to pull over as I drove by the familiar "tractor spot", so that I could copy down the phone number. Unfortunately, the tractor wasn't there. Either it finally sold, or the sellers took it off the market, we were never able to find out. Back to Kijiji for us.

I scanned the online ads tirelessly, bookmarking any which seemed even remotely likely to meet our needs. I asked more-experienced farm friends what features we should look for, and what to avoid. I e-mailed sellers for more details (usually finding that the tractor listed was already sold). I wasn't in a panic to get a tractor. I hoped we still had several months before the first flurries would flutter down from the heavens and fill our driveway. That's just how I shop: if I'm at a mall, I look at all the shoes in every shoe store before going back and finding just the right pair, at just the right price. If I'm searching online, I look at all the ads, make several phone calls, and send several e-mails before deciding what to buy. However, I think Dave misinterpreted my tractor-shopping enthusiasm as a call to immediate action. And I think that may have led to some rash decisions.

About a week into our search, Dave found a tractor that appealed to him. It was one I had noticed too, but since it was located close to an hour and a half away in Amherst, I had relegated it to the bottom of my list. Dave, however, was not daunted. He called the seller and was told that the tractor was on its way to Moncton to be looked at by a potential buyer. If they didn't want it, it would stay there and be sold at auction. Still, Dave was not daunted.

The next day, Dave called back. As it happened, the other potential buyer didn't want it. So, Dave asked the man to bring the tractor back to Amherst so he could have a look. According to Dave, the seller grumbled about moving the tractor again. He said several people had looked at the tractor already and had opted not to buy it. He was tired of accommodating uninterested buyers.

Now, I might have interpreted this lack of interest by other buyers as a warning-- a clue that people were finding fault with this ageing hunk of metal. Not Dave though, he saw this as an opportunity-- destiny even. He told the seller that if he'd bring it back to Amherst, he'd be practically guaranteed a cash sale. Apparently the seller saw this as an opportunity too, and in the end, he heartily agreed to have the tractor back on his lot by that evening so Dave could take it for a test drive.

Dave told me all this by phone while I was at work. I pulled up the online ad and took another look. When I did, I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's the same bad feeling I had the day Dave came home driving a used Izuzu Rodeo SUV (he had it for about six months after which time it sputtered and limped off to auction to be re-sold at a considerable loss to us). I shared my skepticism, and I urged him to change his plans. We argued a bit, and Dave reminded me that as an engineer who spent close to a decade working in mining, he had vast experience with all kinds of heavy equipment. He knew what he was doing. I knew that he was right. With a sigh, I gave him my blessing to do whatever he thought best. I just urged him to keep an open mind, and to be willing to walk away from the deal. Of course, he didn't.

1 comment:

  1. I can SO relate to this story - and what I'm sure will follow. It goes with living in the country and the need boys have for big toys. There's a reason there's a store by that name. It's true.