Girl Out of Water – Tractors

Reader Contribution by Maura White
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Tractors are a farmer’s best friend.  Oh, they will say that their
wives are important to them, but their tractors might as well have a
place at the family dinner table.  A farmer will be outside, mowing or
plowing, and you will see him cock an ear toward the sound of the tractor engine
and listen.  I’ve watched as my man turned off the tractor, climbed
down and said, “She sounds a little funny, I’d better see what the
problem is.”  This is the same man who has walked right past a sobbing
teenage girl without acknowledging all the wailing, sat through ten
rings of the telephone without flinching (or answering it), slept
through a huge tree falling in the front yard that brought neighbors
four doors down out of their homes, and tuned out a dogfight outside the
back door.  This is the same man who can’t hear me when I talk while we
are driving because he is deaf in his right ear (though much to his
chagrin, for the three years we lived in Japan he was forced to not only
listen to me while we were driving, but also acknowledge and
participate in conversations in the car.   Vehicles there drive on the left
side of the road, and since the steering wheels are therefore on
the opposite side of the car, I was now on his good ear!).

One day I volunteered to drive his tractor to clear the hill where we
were to plant trees.  It hadn’t been cleared in so many years that the
blackberry bushes were taller than the tractor.  It was like running
over giant spiders:  as you drove over them, you ran over the main body
but the legs came up over the sides of the tractor and caught at your
pants and hair, like in an old science fiction movie.  I was given
instructions that I could drive over most anything up there on that
field, except for the really large trees.  So off I went to bush hog the
hill.  I was doing so very well, going back and forth and up and down
the hill, mowing and clearing like a professional.

Honey Locust trees are indigenous to Middle Tennessee.  The trunk is
quite dense and they are very strong.  They have a thorn on them that is
a virtual weapon, resembling a medieval sword up to five inches long. 
They range from a small shrub-sized bush to quite tall, thick-trunked
trees.  I mowed them down with abandon.  Except for one.  It really
didn’t seem to be too big, so I aimed for it and drove over it.  Or
attempted to drive over it.  When our tractor hit that tree, a terrible
noise came from both ends and then it stalled.  I looked toward the
barn, and sure enough, my man was already on the run.  When he arrived
and looked at the tractor, I could tell by the look on his face that I
had done some major damage.  It turns out that I hit the tree off
center, which apparently is a bad thing.  It pushed the radiator back
into the fan, which continued to turn, so it sliced the back of the
radiator off as it spun, causing, of course, all the radiator fluid to
run out and all over the ground.  One of the large thorns had pierced a
front tire and caused a blowout.  Also, that thick trunk had pushed the
side of the frame on which the radiator sat back toward the back end of
the tractor.

So there we all were, in the field, my man swatting his hat against
his pant leg and trying not to swear, the poor forlorn tractor looking
like it had just been through a battle and was limping and bleeding all
over the battlefield, and me, hand on my mouth, repeating “Oops” and
“Sorry.”  And oops, I WAS sorry.

Over the next several weeks, you’d think that I had tried to drown a kitten by the looks I was getting from my husband.

It is now fixed and back in the barn, and sometimes, when I walk by
it, I almost hear it murmur, low and under its breath, “just keep
walking.”  So I do.  And I don’t volunteer to mow anymore.

 – Maura White grew up on the Pacific Coast in a sleepy beach town and
has lived all over the country, as well as in Asia.  What a change it
was for her to move to the country.  This lifestyle takes some getting
used to and she uses humor to help her make the adjustment.  She and her
husband are working to make their farm, Double Star Bar Farms, a
successful family farm.  She keeps
saying “You can take the girl away from the ocean, but you can’t take
the ocean out of the girl!”
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