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Life on the Farm


Planting potatoes, despite running out of fuel

By Dean Mullis
Dean Mullis
Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield.

I was preparing to plant potatoes at my work farm yesterday afternoon when the gearbox on the rotary tiller went out.

It was barely dry enough to till but we had to get it done because the forecast is for rain. So, early Thursday morning, my co-worker and Lee went to my farm and loaded up my tiller, hiller and furrower and brought them to farm. After we got the potatoes planted, we loaded everything back up and hauled it back home because Jenifer and I, along with Ellie and Levi, had 700 feet of potatoes to plant ourselves.

I had one last pass to make with the furrower when our Kubota sputtered to a stop. Running a diesel engine out of fuel is not a good thing. I think I would have been fine if I had not tried to start it twice, adding more air to the fuel line.

I got 5 gallons of diesel at my dad’s and poured it in. I hoped it would pick up the fuel quickly but it did not. After almost running the battery dead, as a last resort, I got the manual for the tractor. My tractor has an air vent cock on the fuel line that bleeds air out. Open the cock and run the tractor for 30 seconds, shut off the tractor, close the cock, and you are good to go.

Y’all do not realize how cool that is. Growing up, my dad had a Massy Ferguson 135 and a JD 4230 with broken fuel gauges and if you ran them out of fuel, you might spend a half-day bleeding the fuel lines.

Anyway, we got 3-plus 100-foot rows of Kennebec potatoes planted and 5 rows of Bintje.

Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield;
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