When the Forklift Dies~ August 31, 2012

By August 31, 2012 Farm News

There are many important farm implements, and at this time of year, perhaps none so important as a forklift.  And like one’s health, you don’t really appreciate how dear it is until it’s not working so well.
We use our forklift almost as much as we use oxygen around here.  It is not uncommon to move 20 pallets around (that’s about 36,000 pounds of fruit), 20 bins of fruit (another 16,000 pounds) and when the spirit is really moving us, our dog (not really, but what a great visual that is!). We use the forklift to load pallets into our semi, to move bins of fruit from our packing shed into our coolers, to move pallets of boxes around…you name it, if there’s heavy moving to do, the forklift is our Johnny On The Spot.  Imagine then, the challenges when the forklift is in the sick bay, as was the case last week.
I called Steve at noon on Wednesday, overall a pretty nutty day on the farm, and I thought that a little “How’s hump day going?” cheer might be just what was needed.  I was greeted with a litany of farm issues, the most notable being that “…the forklift left a trail of leaking goo on the ground, was over heating and could only be used for two minutes at a time and then had to cool off for an hour.” Which would be fine if it was say, December.  However at the height of harvest a leaking, overheating forklift may not be the worst thing, but it sure feels like it.
At dinner that night, we were doing our best to problem-solve the barely-working forklift.  Our son asked, “What about Bill and Linda?  Do they have a forklift?”
“No.”
“How about David.”
“No, He doesn’t have one either.”
“What about the Wilson’s?  Don’t they have one?”
“Who?  We are the only people on the mesa who have a forklift”, Steve says.
Our daughter says, “How about borrowing one from Delicious Orchards?”
“A great idea, however, they are fifteen miles away and I don’t think we’ll be driving a forklift down highway 92.”
“Well, it’s good we still have our old forklift”, says our son.
Silence.  And then Steve leaves for what seems like the fifth time since dinner to load up another pallet of fruit onto the semi in the two minutes before the forklift overheats.
The next morning, Steve goes out to find out if the old forklift, nicknamed The Orange Beast, is even a viable option.  There were good reasons it was retired in favor of the “new” lift.  The key is gone.  The battery is dead.  There are two flat tires.  Best of all, it’s buried beneath farm equipment that’s heavy enough to be moved with, you guessed it…a forklift. Seven hours later, the old orange forklift is puttering slowly, with hardly a clutch or steering, but oh-so-thankfully placing one bin of fruit at a time on the packing line.
Thank goodness for our local repairperson, Craig and his Dad (think ZZ Top lead singer and one of the Lawrence Welk guys).   They putter, tinker and diagnose a seized water pump on the forklift. Forty-eight hours later, the forklift is working, Old Orange is sitting in front of the packing shed where it will stay, and for a short while, one crisis is mitigated.

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