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The Great Amish Tractor Tragedy and Other Farm Happenings

August 9, 2010
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Last Wednesday I began my foray into rural education at the local high school. Wednesday was the first day of school for the students of ______ County. It was an incredibly smooth first day of school by my standards, and my hunch was confirmed by the exhortations of the principal and central office staff. The day started with a whole school assembly in the gym (in our entire school district there is not an auditorium thanks in part to all of those who voted down the nickel tax that would have provided for the renovation of old facilities and the creation of new ones).  The principal spoke sincerely and thoughtfully setting a positive vision for the students to start their year by. From there we dismissed to homeroom (a temporary advisory that meets only a few times during the school year). My homeroom was made up of Juniors who were sweet, welcoming, hilarious, gregarious, and very well behaved. The rest of the day was a whirlwind consisting of seven periods, some as short as fifteen minutes and others as long as fifty. A normal class period should be fifty minutes long, but anyone who has ever taught knows the first week of school is far from normal. My students are funny and interesting. I have five English II classes, full of very typical examples of the tenth grade species, and I have a yearbook class filled with twenty-eight of the cutest 11th and 12th graders you have ever seen. Since I have no previous yearbook teaching (or learning) experience the kids have been very helpful and surprisingly organized in their efforts to make sure the yearbook gets off the ground.

One of the best parts about working outside of the farm is that everyday when I come home there is a new surprise or unusual circumstance waiting for me. On the first day of school I drove down the driveway to discover Geoff attempting to jump start the truck with the riding lawn mower. It was adorable. I felt like I was in one of those classic 1940’s tugboat movies (you know the movies from the era in which all films were based on plots involving small boats pushing or pulling larger boats through precarious situations). Turns out you cannot use the radio of the 1995 clunker truck to listen to music while you pick pears for two hours without running down your battery. Lesson learned my friends. On that same day Geoff harvested easily over 100 lbs of pears. Well done Farmer Geoff, well done. Now all we need to do is drastically improve our pear preservation techniques and we will be ready for the full brunt of the harvest. I can proudly report that Geoff canned three jars of pears and I made one crumble. That took care of about seven of the 100 lbs of pears. A person can only eat so much crumble after all.

On day two of school I arrived home and my sweet husband greeted me with, “You better change clothes, there has been a situation.”

“What kind of situation?”

“A happening?”

“What kind of happening.”

“You’ll just have to see it. I can’t do it justice by describing it.”

“Is anyone dead?”

“No.”

“Are all the animals okay?”

“Yes.”

“Has part of the farm been destroyed?”

“Not exactly…”

“Not exactly ?!?”

I changed clothes and was able to draw a few more clues out of Geoff. I learned that the “happening” involved the Amish and that Geoff had again been wearing shorts during a major Amish interaction.

We got in the truck and drove out to the back of the property. At first nothing looked out of the ordinary. Then as we came around the corner and up the slight hill I saw what could best be described as a stone henge made of tractors. As we got closer I realized it looked more like the evolution of tractors. Picture the very first cro-magnom tractor burried all the way up to its axels in the dirt. The next tractor, slightly more evolved, was submerged only to the tire rims, and the final tractor, the most evolved, was sitting plainly upon the dirt. Weird. You do not see that everyday. My first response was, “Do we get to keep them?” Evidently not.

Apparently our neighbor sent his thirteen year old son to come hay our fields (on the first day of school) and, since teenage boys are known for their attention to detail, he started mowing the field without noticing that parts of it were still wet. He reached a certain point, got a little stuck, and proceeded to get himself really stuck.  As any wise thirteen year old should do, he sought out adult advice at this point. Walking up to the house he commandeered Geoff and our truck and they all went merrily along to save what shall henceforth be know as tractor #1. Not long after tractor #1 got stuck, 1995 clunker truck got stuck also precipitating the need for Geoff and the young Amish Lad to climb the ridge and borrow our neighbor’s other tractor. Wind rushing through their bangs (both Geoff and the Amish Lad wear bangs which works out so well for this story), Geoff and the Amish lad drive back to the farm and successfully get the clunker truck unstuck. Immediately thereafter the tractor that shall now be known as tractor #2 gets stuck. Second verse, same as the first, all together now! Geoff and Amish Lad set off to find a third tractor (tractor #3). They find the Lad’s elderly Uncle who has an elderly tractor and they bring that out to our tractor cemetery. At the exact moment they get all of the tractors hooked up in a daisy chain of farm mechanical failure the fuel pump in tractor #3 fails and we become the proud owners of our very own tractor stone henge.

The next several hours are punctuated by visits from curious beard sans mustached neighbors and relatives of the Lad. The first set successfully uses tractor#4 to tow tractor #3 to the shop for repairs. It is not until the next day however that tractors #5 and #6 arrive to remove tractors #1 and #2 from our field of dreams. If you sink it, they will come. Geoff is winning the who can meet the most neighbors contest by a hefty margin.

Photo courtesy of G. McPherson

Other than that things are pretty normal here on the farm. I pepper my days with spontaneous fits of tears and uncertainty, and Geoff continues to come to the rescue with words of wisdom and calm logical thinking. I believe my current feelings about the transition to this new life can best be described as the perfect storm of Band Camp ’92, London ’01, Moving to the Quarry Townhomes, Wedding Stomach, and the first month of marriage. For those of you not familiar with my change averse history/compulsion to introduce change into my life at every opportunity, I have a way of putting myself into situations that I find highly traumatic at first, but then grow to love and be unbelievably thankful for.  For the sake of Geoff’s psyche, I am hoping for a quick transition, but we cannot put a timetable on these things. It takes me as long as it takes me to get used to “new”. For the most part we are having a wonderful time. The farm is growing, I am employed, we are both meeting new people everyday, and we have more squash than we know what to do with. Who could ask for more?

Killer sunset.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    August 9, 2010 4:36 PM

    That may be your best post yet. Hilarious.

  2. Uncle Chris permalink
    August 9, 2010 5:16 PM

    Great story Kids believe it or not it sounds like a lot of fun! Glad things are going well for y’all. Love ya

    Uncle Chris

  3. McKinley permalink
    August 9, 2010 9:42 PM

    You’re funny! I will miss you both on our first day of school but am so thankful that you get to spread your love and wisdom to kids outside of Texas. Those kids don’t even know how lucky they are 🙂

  4. August 9, 2010 9:45 PM

    LOL I just used one tractor tonight to pull my husband out of a wet hole. Do they ever learn? Your was a lad, mine is a 52 year old man. LOL This is common on our farm when he’s mowing waterways and road banks. Me, I stay on the level dry land.

  5. Allison permalink
    August 10, 2010 8:29 AM

    I think this is the start of a joke,”How many adult men does it take to pull a 13y.o. boy out of a mud puddle”…tehe. I am always amazed at what Amish children can do in comparison to the English children. I have a 14 y.o. soon to be 15 y.o. son and I can not imagine him driving a tractor, let alone cutting a hay field and knowing what to do if he got stuck. Maybe I should lend him out for a while…..naw I would miss him too much and he can cook pretty good.

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