Oil Spills from Farm to Gulf

June 25, 2010

All it took was a damn $.27 cent lynch pin, and that’s if you buy only one.  Most of the time I buy them five for a buck.  When I think of that, it makes me feel worse.

There’s not much to a lynch pin.  A quarter inch round piece of metal stock about two inches long, with a piece of spring wire that snaps into place.  The lynch pin’s job is basic.  It holds a hitch pin in place or like yesterday, it holds the tongue of the swather onto the tractors draw bar.  That is, it holds the swather in place if you snap one on.

Early afternoon and I hooked the swather up to the tractor.  The swather is about a quarter mile from the shop and when I got to it I found I didn’t have a lynch pin the make the connection.  No problem, I thought, when I get to the shop I will put a pin in place.  In the meantime, the swather is heavy enough to make it to the shop without a problem.  Yeah, not a problem as long as I remember.  As I rolled up to the shop a few folks arrived who were interested in looking at and possibly buying a few goats.  We walked out to the pasture; looked at goats, and talked about the attributes of their mothers, weight gain, and overall confirmation.  Once they picked out a half dozen goats, we ran them into the barn, and then loaded them into a four-horse trailer.  Forty minutes or so after they arrived they were headed back down the drive with a trailer of goats.  Hmm, you think I remembered the lynch pin?

I went back to the swather, checked it over, greased joints, oiled some chains, and then drove out to open up the hay field.  I figured I would make a couple passes around the perimeter and then cut the remainder of the field the next day.  Second pass around the field I made a tight turn over some rough ground.  Tractor, swather, and I bounced.  One little bounce, that’s all it took, and the swather jumps off the draw bar and the hydraulic hoses rip away from the swather.  No hose means one thing, hydraulic oil—two gallons of oil—pours onto the ground.  Forgetting one little $.27 lynch pin and I create quite a mess and hours of fixing.

Looking at hydraulic oil on the ground, flowing and mixing with the vegetation, I couldn’t help but think of the gulf and oil.  Like the gulf spill, this spot of ground will never be the same.  Vegetation is sure to die, and the number of dying microbial animals is probably uncountable.  Who knows how long it will take the soil to recover?  Sure, I will pick up contaminated soil and move it out of the area, but the soil will only end up somewhere else.  The plants and animals may come back to the ground of the two-gallon oil spill, but the soil taken from the ground of its being, will never be the same.

Spills are spills, I think, and when I look at mine, I have to think of my complicity in the gulf spill.  As long as I continue to use oil for heating, transportation, or food production, at some level I support offshore drilling, whether I protest it or not.  I’m not all that sure what this means for me, but a $.27 lynch pin has me thinking.

© David B. Bell 2010

1 Comment

  1. So, I guess JustHospitality needs to include asking folks to wait for your time to come around to the place of being in sync together. I think most farm-folk get that. BTW: this kind of oil-soil is useful on the driveway, or in front of the shop, as a weed/dust-reducing resource =).

    I now have a sticker on the car from Greenpeace:
    “Spill, Baby Spill! Ban off-shore drilling” I guess it seems out of character on a car that can easily go 130 mph — I feel ya! I feel ya!


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