Autumn is here, and it’s a time for all things pumpkin and one last chance to enjoy the nice weather before winter sets in. A tractor hayride is the perfect way to celebrate the season with family and community alike. Got a tractor and a hay wagon? Great, let’s get started!
Consider a quick oil change and tune up to ensure that everything’s running smoothly so you aren’t met with any surprises. This is especially important if your tractor sits without being driven for long periods of time, you might need to give it a charge. Make sure your tractor has a proper hitch — if you’ve installed it recently, a couple of safety chains from wagon to tractor might not be the worst idea either. Also verify that the tractor weighs more than the gross weight of the wagon it’s pulling, including people and hay. The weight of the load impacts your ability to brake and maintain solid traction. You’ll also want to pay attention to the load limits on those wagon tires.
Next comes making your wagon a comfortable and enjoyable ride for passengers. Decorations are a must have, and Christmas lights are a perfect solution for ambient passenger lighting that isn’t too big of a power draw. Instead of running lights directly from the tractor battery, throw an inverter on there. A 400-watt inverter should be sufficient, but if you’re planning to really wow everyone with your illumination, it’s worth your time to do the calculations exactly.
Decide your hayride path, clear it of any brush or obstacles, and do a test run a day or so before the haul. This way you can find out if there are any tricky turns or bumps, and also get a feel for speed (very, very slow). Do not attempt to incorporate public roads. It’s a safety hazard with other vehicles around and, depending on where you live and what permits you do or don’t possess, it could be illegal. And speaking of legality, if you’re planning to offer rides to people outside of your immediate family, do yourself a potentially big favor by having riders sign tractor hayride liability waivers.
Everything you do to prepare for the tractor hayride is done in the name of safety. Hayrides are a lot of fun, and make for some great memories, but never lose sight of the fact that you are taking others’ well being into your hands, especially children. Set firm rules from the beginning (like remaining seated) and be certain they’re understood. Ideally, your wagon has some sort of railing on the sides, but if it doesn’t, don’t allow folks to hang their legs over the edges as clothing can get caught up in the wheels. Designate an adult to enforce the rules and sit near the back of the wagon, where they can communicate easily with the driver in case a stop is needed.
Tractor hayrides are a fun and easy way to enjoy fall and share a memorable evening with others, especially if you’ve already got a tractor lying around, it’s a perennial favorite for kids and adults alike. Thorough planning, precautions and general maintenance will go a long way to keeping everyone safe and happy.
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Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.