December 27, 2012

They don't pay me enough for this.

As you may recall this blog once went by the title Confessions of a City Gal.  It was the documentation of my slow but sure progression from a dyed in the wool city girl to a down the dirt road farm wife.  I'm pretty sure my header read something like, "One chicken, goat, casserole, and stomach bug at a time."  Well, today I have achieved a FarmWife necessity.  I learned to drive a tractor.  Not at all by choice, let  me tell you.

My neck, still sore from my free fall out into nothing snow, needed some TLC this afternoon.  As Husband readied himself for work, I readied myself for R&R.  Advil, a warm buckwheat stuffed heart, blankets, and Lord of the Rings on DVD were all gathered as I hunkered down on the couch hoping to catch a few naps.  Husband kissed us all goodbye and headed out into the snow with my cell phone in hand.  10 minutes later the phone rang.  Husband's van was stuck in the snow a little over a mile down the road.

He tromped up to a neighbor's house to call his folks.  His dad had already left for work meaning there was no one to help pull him out.  He headed down the road towards our house only to be picked up by a guy in a truck who dropped him off at our drive.  He came in, changed into coveralls, and told me to pack the kids up.  We were going to rescue the van.

After dropping the kids off at his mom's we headed to the barn to start up the tractor. The tractor had other ideas.  Ideas like sitting in the cold barn and not going anywhere.  Husband grabbed the starter fluid and showed me where to spray it.  Unfortunately it was empty.  We tromped through the snow to the old barn to get another can of starter fluid from the new tractor.  Then back to the new barn and the old tractor and tried again to no avail.  Back to the old barn and new tractor only to discover Husband has no idea how the new tractor works and it's battery is dead and hasn't been hooked up to the charger as FIL had told Husband it had.  Back to the old barn with the battery charger in tow.  30 minutes into the adventure he finally got a tractor started.

That's when the fun began.  You see, FIL's old tractor is a 1970's Deutz open cab tractor.  Open cab.  As in  a seat totally exposed to the elements.  And seat as in one seat.  Not two.  It was 32 degrees outside so I knew I was in for a cold mile jaunt down the road. Much like driving a convertible in the snow.  A convertible with only one seat and no doors.  A convertible that smells like cow pies and diesel fumes.  What I didn't know was that Husband thought the best way for me to ride behind him was by standing on the hitch tongue on the back of the tractor.  It's a metal piece about a foot long and about 6 inches wide.  It also moves somewhat freely.  "Stand here, put your other foot on this bar to steady yourself, and hold on to the seat back," he tells me.  "Try not to hit any bumps," I replied realizing I was basically surfing behind a giant piece of machinery down a road covered in snow, ice, and mud.  I do not surf. In fact, I have the balance and physical grace of a new born giraffe.

Husband thought I'd be warmer behind him than perched up on one of the fenders.  He may have been right, but I only know I will never ever ever be persuaded to stand on the hitch of a tractor again.  I don't care if that's the only way to avoid a herd of hungry zombies.  I'll take my chances with the undead.  I have never been so scared in my entire life.  I'm pretty sure I cried a full quarter mile of the trip back to the old van.  It was unsteady, exposed, and so cold I couldn't feel my fingers to be sure I was still holding on to the seat properly as we jostled down a rutted, potholed road not visited by a road grader in far too long. When we had to turn around on a lease road and back the tractor toward the van, I flat refused to go another inch clutching to the back of that beast.  Instead I walked/jogged the 1/4 mile from the lease road to our van.

By that time another man with a back hoe was by the van.  He helped Husband hook up the chain and pull it back off the snow bank he'd pulled down the road with him.  As soon as the van was unstuck, Husband realized we couldn't get the tractor, the back hoe, and our van down the same 1 lane cut in the road.  I was standing behind the van when the back hoe driver asked if I was having fun.  "I don't remember this being in the wedding vows.  I knew I was marrying a country boy, but no one warned me about this kind of stuff."  Husband hops out of our van and says, "Babe, do you know how to drive this tractor?"  I laughed in his face.

45 seconds of instruction later and I was driving the tractor down the gravel road between 2 foot drifts of snow and slush so Husband and the other guy could maneuver the other vehicles around each other.  Husband put the tractor in 2nd gear so I couldn't go very fast and told me to stay in the tracks in the road.  The only time that 1 mile trip down the road has ever been longer was when I was standing on the hitch on the way down.  Cold made colder still by the constant wind I was creating driving down a frozen country road.

Husband backed the van all the way down the road because he figured it would do better with the rear wheel drive if he didn't turn it around.  By the time I made it back to his Mom's driveway he'd driven the old van home and jogged back to his parents' so he could get the tractor back into the barn.  I moved off the single seat and back onto the fender for the last 200 yards of the trip.  "I just want you to know I cried from the cross roads to the lease road."

"What?  Why?" he asked in a frustratingly clueless manner.

"I have never been that scared for that long in my life!" I snapped back.

"Oh, you mean when you were standing on the hitch," he said.  "Well, now you'll have something to blog about."  He knows me too well.

Now I'm freshly showered to rid myself of the smell of diesel fumes, dressed in lazy clothes straight from the warm dryer, wrapped in a blanket, with a pot of coffee brewing happily in my kitchen.  I can feel all of my fingers and toes once again.  My neck still hurts but then I'm sure having my shoulders up under my ears for 45 minutes didn't help.  Husband finally made it safely to the highway and to work only an hour or so late.

I've learned a new skill.  That means the snow can melt.


zann said...

Life is certainly an adventure, particularly for you dear friend :) great blog post.

Penny said...

having been a "farm wife" long ago, I can feel your pain! I am glad all is good and you are now warm and cozy...

Layla said...

Gaaaah!!!! I will never leave the city. Ever, ever ever. I will only move FURTHER into the city. That said, you will survive any kind of disaster and I will cry and scream for coffee and not know how to do a thing, dying with an overly priced latte in my hand. So, really - you got the better deal here.