Getting the tractor out of the mud

Rain, melting snow, mud, and tractors don’t play nice together. A tractor that becomes mired down in the muck will surely bring some high drama and a few choice words. But take a deep breath and figure out a plan that is safe and won’t damage the equipment.

Kent McGuire is an ag safety and health coordinator at the Ohio State University. He says when the wheels of the tractor first start to spin, stop, raise the implement, and engage the differential lock.

"Put the tractor in reverse and position the throttle at about 1/4th open. Slowly engage the clutch and try to back out of the wet spot. Keep the tire spinning to a minimum," says McGuire. "If this fails, stop, because if you continue to spin those wheels, the tractor just will dig in deeper and deeper."

Try digging the mud away from the front and rear wheels, and place boards behind the wheels to provide a solid base for backing onto. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to check your pride and call someone to pull you out.

"Try to pull the tractor out in a straight line and backwards through the same tracks if possible, there’s less resistance if you’re pulling back through those existing tracks. Make sure that the towing devices such as chains, tow bars, or straps are big enough and strong enough to handle the load," he says. "Many times, they need to be rated at 1-to-1.5-times the weight of the stuck equipment."

McGuire also recommends draping something heavy over the tow chain so if it snaps, it falls to the ground rather than becoming a shooting missile back at you. Do this safely and you can laugh about the whole thing later.