I decided that I would get the tractor started first, then just run the tractor across the street to load it onto the trailer. The tractor, a BCS Professional Series 853, was similar to a walk-behind tractor I had used before, but different enough to mess me up. Fancier than what I am used to, this new tractor has wheel brakes to aid turning, but just like backing up a trailer, everything is backwards. Squeezing the right handle turns the machine to the left, and squeezing the left handle makes it turn left. I understood this in theory, but, just as with the trailer, had a hard time transitioning from theory to reality. I managed to get the tractor down the driveway, across the sidewalk, and into the street, but couldn't get the tractor wheels lined up with the ramp onto the trailer. It must have been quite a sight, me wrestling a tractor in the middle of the street in the middle of West Sacramento, but I tried not to think about it. Instead, I backed the tractor out of the street, then called and texted for help. But help didn't come. I was on my own. Murphy 2, Aimee 0.
Summoning up my courage, I went back to the trailer. Taking a chance that I might never get out, I pulled straight into the farm's driveway and parked. I turned the fancy steering system on the tractor off. I would steer manually. Holding my breath, I manhandled the tractor, forcing it to turn right, drove it up the ramp, and got the beast onto the trailer. Phew. Murphy 2, Aimee 1!
Of course, I still had to back the trailer out of the driveway and onto the main street. "You can do this," I said, psyching myself up. What I really meant was, "You don't have a choice. You have to do this. There's nobody else to rescue you." But I pretended not to hear myself think this. I googled "backing up a trailer" and got a quick tutorial. According to the site I looked at, the secret was to put my hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and let the bottom of the steering wheel drive the trailer. I was skeptical, but what did I have to lose? Heart pounding, I backed the trailer toward the street, turning the bottom of the wheel to the right to make the trailer go right. The trailer did go right, but it kept going right! I tried to the straighten the wheel, but I got everything turned around in my head again, and made the trailer go even further to the right. I pulled forward and tried again. This time, I managed to get enough of the trailer into the street that I could pull forward and drive away! Hooray! Murphy 2, Aimee 2.
The one-mile drive to my farm was relatively uneventful, until I had to park. My farm is across the street from a school, and by this time, school was almost out and my usual parking spots were taken up by parents waiting to pick up their children. The only spot left on my side of the street that was big enough for my truck and trailer required me to back into it, since I had overshot. I only needed to back up in a straight line for 5 feet or so. How hard could that be? Quite hard, it turns out! Once again, my trailer backing-up skills failed me, and I was forced to abandon the effort after several ill-fated attempts that ended with the trailer halfway up the curb. Aaarrrggghhh! Murphy 3, Aimee 2.
There was plenty of the parking on the other side of the street, but I didn't dare attempt a U-turn because my truck-trailer unit was too long and I would end up in, god forbid, a 3-point Y that I might never escape from. Instead of a U-turn, I made a right and 3 lefts, driving about a mile to go 30 feet! It wasn't pretty, but it worked. I finally parked in front of my farm and got the tractor off. After hours of struggling, I was finally going to mow the cover crop! Murphy 3, Aimee 3.
Excited to begin, I fired up the mower's engine and pulled the PTO level to engage the flail mower. Instead of nice mowing sounds, I was greeted with a horrible scraping, then silence. The engine died. I tried the sequence again, and got the same result. No mowing. I called for help. This time, help answered, in the form of the mechanic at the tractor shop. I actually had 2 problems, one with the clutch, which would be a simple fix, and another with the mower, which could be more complicated. Not feeling up for taking apart a flail mower, I volunteered to tow the tractor to the shop. Murphy 4, Aimee 3.
Pulling up to the shop, I prayed that I could park without having to back into a space. My prayers were answered, saving me much embarrassment. Joe the mechanic adjusted the clutch, but was puzzled by my mower problems. When he engaged the PTO to fire up the mower, it hummed. Well, maybe it had just been the clutch after all, we figured, and I reloaded the tractor and headed back to the farm. Daylight was fading, but I was determined to mow something that day. When I got back to the farm, the mower got stuck on the ramp edge, but a strong passerby helped me wrestle the mower free. I fired up the tractor and held my breath. I increased the throttle setting, and engaged the PTO. Once again, I got that horrible metal-on-metal scraping sound, but the engine didn't die. I was mowing! I mowed until dark, cutting down about half the field, then returned the mower and tractor back to their storage shed at another farm. Murphy 4, Aimee 4.