One of the outcomes of an early, warm, dry spring is that there has been a fire band in Prince Edward County. This story occurred while that fire band was in effect. It happen just hours after I was given my first lesson on how to operate the new love of my life: my John Deer rider mower. This thing is awesome! Not only is it fun to drive, but it is also gently cooling on a hot spring day. I may never walk again.
Anyway, on this particular Sunday, I was out driving around and having some fun doing figure eights and such. I was trying to mulch up the acres of leaves that had been left on the lawn last fall. I had to stop a couple of times because the leaves were bunching up underneath my cutter, between the engine and the front wheels. About the third time I noticed this occurring, I chose to ignore the situation and just carry on. I was too lazy to get off the tractor again. That was when I noticed a small ribbon of smoke rising from the engine . A fire? HOLY CRAP!! Apparently the situation was more serious than I had suspected. I turned the key off and real flames shot out from underneath. Reverse! Reverse! My thinking was if I could just drive the tractor backwards away from the gathered pile underneath the engine, the tractor would at least be safe. The engine would not turn over. F**K!! I hopped off and stupidly started to stomp on the smoldering mess. That seemed too dangerous. I might get burnt. I tried to pull the tractor back. I tried pushing the tractor. It would not bulge. OMG … was anyone around to help? The machine was too heavy to move. I was going to destroy this piece of equipment within the first hour of ever having used it. The flames were now all around the wheels. How useless was I? With the dry, hot conditions the fire was spreading quickly. I had to do something quickly.
At the time, I was stalled beside two giant 200-year-old oak trees with brush and burnable growth all around me. So…. I just started stomping on the flames and trying to spread the burning leaves away from the tractor using a stick. I even used my hands to pull out some twigs stuck in the pile. It was amazing that 1) I did not burn my feet or hands as I frantically tried to scatter the burning leaves 2) I didn’t burn down the forest, and 3) my tractor’s wheels didn’t catch fire. I was very very lucky. When the smoke seemed to have died down I ran down to the lake, found a small container and was able to throw several pails of water on the engine and surrounding lawn.
There does not seem to be any long-term damage. The tires never exploded. The engine started again and I reversed away from the mess. Wow… I’m glad my new neighbours weren’t watching. I then thought it was a good time to quit using the tractor. I parked it in the garage and I haven’t used it since.