Flindt on Friday: Wanted – discreet source of tractor parts

It’s slightly embarrassing to have to ask – and let’s keep this between ourselves, shall we? – but does anyone know where I can get hold of new steering wheel for my 2018 Massey 5713S? I need a new round one to replace one that, unfortunately, isn’t.

I would go to my dealer, but they’d probably produce the “Blimey, we don’t sell many of those!” line – and then ask how it happened. I could try bluffing and say it was a mysterious spontaneous breakage, and try yet another just-out-of-warranty claim.

The first problem with that plan is that I’m a terrible liar, and the second is that I have already drawn heavily from the deep well of just-out-of-warranty goodwill claims – it might be running dry.

See also: Read more Flindt on Friday

Insurance assessment

Even going to NFU Insurance for a claim could be rather humiliating. They’ll take one look at the details of the “incident” and write a nice formal letter consisting of two words, the second one being “off”. You wouldn’t blame them, and here’s why.

I bet this isn’t the only farm where odd jobs are being done that would normally get procrastinated into eternity. A couple of Saturdays ago, arable work was nicely up together – a genuine opportunity to lock the tractor barn and… and what, exactly?

In my case, it’s eat. While other unfortunate folk are using their lockdowns for intensive yoga, interior decorating or buffing up their Swedish (as in the language, not the au pair), I’m scoffing. All that weight lost after the hip op, back on again.

The only solution is to unlock the barn and get back in the tractor. “I know”, I thought. “I’ll take the loader and grab, and push some of this winter’s fallen trees back off the tracks.”

I had a very jolly afternoon doing some “public good”, and making mental notes of the next supply of firewood. All that lovely ash – although the fact that so many of them are coming down is worrying.

I got the last one done, and headed home via the track next to Clump, closing up the grab as I went. The sky was blue, the birds were singing, the bluebells were out, the wheat looked lovely, spring had most definitely sprung most stunningly – and at that very moment, the tractor stopped dead.

I wasn’t closing the grab; I was pressing the wrong button on the joystick, and lowering an open and slightly downward-tilted grab to the dirt. Result: 10kph to 0kph in a scary millisecond.

Seventeen stone of finest Hampshire beef (that’s me, by the way) failed to stop. I don’t remember much about it – just a strange bewilderment.

Hobnob airbag

My left thumb hurt like heck, as did my teeth, and my lower ribs felt like they’d been hit by an iron bar. I gave them a good poke (as props do after losing a scrum), thinking, “no, not hospital, not now, please!” All seemed sore, but intact.

Once I’d gathered my senses, I realised that the “iron bar” was the steering wheel, and it had acted as a mini-crumple zone. It was now a very odd shape.

Thank goodness, too, for all the cheese, ginger beer and Hobnobs; the perfect inbuilt “airbag”, protecting my ribs. And the next thing I did? Check, of course, that no one had seen me do it.

It’s not the sort of tale to tell the dealer or the insurance company – a tale of complacency and idiocy at the tractor wheel, which once was round, but now isn’t. So, if you’ve got a spare one, pop it in the post.