And I thought molasses was just for baking…

Our little red Massey Ferguson was laid up in our friend Isaac’s garage for about two weeks.  She had fallen ill of molasses and the prognosis was poor.

We lent her to Isaac a week before she got sick.  He instructed his young son to fill her transmission with hydraulic oil.  The boy mistook a pail of molasses for hydraulic oil and dumped three gallons into the transmission.  Then he started her up and drove about fifty metres before the molasses went to her arteries and she choked.  We had no idea how far it had spread.  The front loader stopped lifting and we feared the worst.

Albert said he’d never heard of a case of molasses that completely cleared up because it’s almost impossible to remove from every valve, port and artery in the tractor.  This means that when the engine and transmission run hot, remnants of molasses crystallize into hard candy and seize up the bushings.  Every time that happens, you have to dissect the tractor, clean it, replace the bushings and put it all back together.  The whole process is slower than…well, you get the idea.  Not only that, but molasses is contagious.  It can infect whatever its host hooks up to, whether it’s a bucket or forks on the front or an auger or tiller on the back.

I said, “You mean to tell me that other tractors catch molasses?”

His answer was “Yes.”  Apparently, dumping molasses into transmissions is a favourite means of reprisal for vengeful bakers with a mechanical bent.  This makes molasses stored in a container marked “hydraulic oil” in Isaac’s garage that day all the more unfortuitous (I know, it’s not really a word, but it should be).  I don’t suspect foul play in this case, but I do wonder what the black strap prevented the boy from seeing and smelling the difference between hydraulic oil and molasses.

I took the picture below on the day our brand-new tractor was delivered to us about eight years ago.  By the look of Albert’s coat, he passed the time until she arrived by napping in the hog pen.


Our Massey Ferguson is our lawn mower, rock remover and chicken coop cleaner.  She’s our trench digger, posthole auger, garden tiller, weed sprayer, wagon puller, wood carrier, snow pusher and my transportation when I’m too lazy to walk from the barn to the far fencepost.  We scarcely manage one day without her.  In three months, she will be ours free and clear and then we’d planned to buy a big tractor for heavy work.  She was supposed to outlive us and still be worth $10,000.  As you can see below, even family gatherings are incomplete without her.  No farmer should outlive their tractor.

Then I remembered that God controls the events of my life, and that I’m not God.  I prayed that our tractor would be healed and make a full recovery, and I stopped fretting about it.  In Isaac’s garage, she went under the screwdriver.  About 250 pints of oil went through her while she underwent transmission dialysis through an IV (ok, a funnel).  The grass grew tufty and the chicken coop smelly while we waited for word of her condition.

A week ago, Isaac brought her home with a clean bill of health and a promise that he would cover any cost should she relapse within the next year.  She’s been hard at work ever since, catching up on the chores that piled up during her convalescence, and she’s done it without so much as a cough or a hiccup, proof to me that God cares about the ordinary ailments  in my life, even ailments as mundane as molasses.


6 responses to this post.

  1. That’s harsh! Poor tractor. I can feel your pain. I’m glad she’s doing better and appears to be free of her artery-clogging dose of molasses. It’s great that you were to leave it with God. I often say my van’s held together with prayer and divine duct-tape so I know that God cares for our machines too. 😉


    • Divine duct-tape – I love it! I shall pray that God keeps many rolls in stock so that you can continue to heed the call of ports unknown, like Glasgow 😉


  2. I am so glad your tractor is better…we have an old Massey Fergie and were tod to clean the transmission to use moasses whoa! (by people who want aus to buy another tractor off them 😦 …. sufficae to say we didn’t ..our question if you know is..what do we use to clean the transmission..hydraulic oil? and then what do we use after it’s cleaned..our beloved tractor went under water in the last flood we had here any advice is much appreciated


    • Hi Fergie, I’m sorry for taking so long to reply. I couldn’t answer your question by myself and every time I meant to ask Albert, I forgot.

      Albert says if it’s just water in the transmission, drain the transmission, change your filters and then add new hydraulic oil. Use the tractor for about ten hours, monitoring it as you use it. If the oil looks milky, drain it when it’s cold. Change the filters and oil again and you should be good.


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