I’m not particularly helpful to the farmer when it comes to farm work but I have managed to learn how to drive a plow and a hay rake. Anything I offer to help with is greatly appreciated by the farmer because taking care of a farm by himself can be pretty demanding during the spring and fall. Suffice it to say, my plow endeavors have been infinitely more successful than my hay raking endeavors by a long shot.
The truth is, I have a fear of the tractor tipping over. Most plowing is pretty ho-hum but there are times when I hit a sideways incline that makes me nervous and I freeze. Let’s face it, tractors are like school buses-all metal, no seat belts and no airbags either. Bounce around upside down one a couple of seconds and wait for the concussion. Not to mention the look on your husband’s face when he sees you hanging upside down in his precious cargo.
One day my husband asked me to accompany him with the hay rake tractor to a small piece of land our neighbor’s kindly allow us to take hay from in in exchange for hunting on our land during the season. A very quick job, he assures me. The area is mostly open except for one long patch in between two rows of trees. Just rake those up and you’re done. Now, remember, he says, don’t get too close to the edge on the left side. It’s muddy and it goes down to a big muddy ditch. I got this. I made it twice around the trees before I got too close to the left and did a mudslide right down into that huge ditch full of mud. That slide down into the mud lasted forever. You know, it’s amazing how the brain can hold on to the idea that danger can maybe, just maybe, still be averted. Then there is the moment that you realize it cannot. That moment came as I looked up into the trees and realized I was sideways and sinking. I freaked out! All I could think of was climbing out of that tractor as fast as I could but the door was above me and gravity was not my friend. I managed to kick the door out and climb out. I can’t imagine how ridiculous this would have looked had someone been watching. I thanked God they had not. Then, as I stood there behind the trees obscured from my husband’s view, I thought about how to tell him what I did.
It is not easy to get a person’s attention when they riding in a tractor with the radio on full blast. So I stood there for awhile and cried. Occasionally I would look at the tractor half upside down and then I’d cry again. It occurred to me that if that ditch held more water than mud, I could have drowned. It also occurred to me that I broke a tractor. I broke a tractor and now I’d have to pay for a new one. That really made me cry. I didn’t want to buy a tractor. I wasn’t done paying off my car. I didn’t even know if there was such a thing as tractor insurance! Do they cover stupidity?
After five minutes of intensive arm waving, my husband realized I was no longer in a tractor but standing there with mud up to my thighs and mascara running down my face. I showed him my latest catastrophe. In between those horrible weird heaves you get when you do the ugly cry, I told him, ”I’m so sorry….I broke your tractor….I didn’t mean to slide into the ditch…….I’ll pay for it…….wah…….” To his credit (and superhuman emotional resilience), he hugged me and told me not to worry. They would get it out somehow and it probably wasn’t really broken, maybe just a litle dented. He was more worried that I had gotten dented. Only my ego, my friend, only my ego.
I was relieved my husband was so nice about it but still horribly defeated and soon to be embarrassed as people came to help us get the tractor out of the ditch. It took 3 tractors with cables and an assortment of neighbors to hoist the tractor back on it’s feet. There was much ribbing and requests that I pose for pictures. Yep, that’s what happens when a city girl doesn’t follow directions. To this day I still think that mud had it out for me and i didn’t stand a chance. Thankfully, the tractor was no worse for the wear and I didn’t have to buy a new one. My husband knows better than to ask me to rake the hay on that piece of land. Come to think of it, he hasn’t asked me to drive a tractor since…..