One day while visiting us this summer, my niece Sarah wanted to try her hand at running the Hustler zero-turn mower. I take advantage of help when I have it so, after a short lesson on how to operate the mower, I sectioned off an easy area for her to mow. Once she aced that, she maneuvered around a few trees and I was pleased to see her progressing carefully and with skill as she edged around all sorts of landscaping and flower beds. Soon, she was smiling and enjoying accomplishing something that she’d never done before. Not everyone masters the art of operating a zero-turn mower so quickly, but Sarah seemed to have it down, so I moved on to another area of the yard to tackle some push mowing in areas too tight for the zero-turn. About thirty minutes later, a more nervous yet smiling Sarah came to get me. Perhaps a little over-confident in her operation, she had knocked down my home-spun bird bath and, in her subsequent panic attempting to reverse the machine, she also hooked the picnic table with the rear tire and mower decking. I was just glad she wasn’t hurt, that the mower wasn’t damaged, and that, minor damage aside, she had truly helped me out. Since I meant to take that bird bath down more than a year ago, we had a very good laugh in the end. And with that, Sarah decided she’d had enough mowing for the day.
And just the other day, I was using my new battery-operated chainsaw, busily cutting limbs and thinking about how easy this saw made my work. Compared to the rather rough and jerky cutting of my old chainsaw, this new one was like slicing through soft butter. I could work much faster and get more firewood stacked in half the time. I became so focused on the ease of use that I was surprised when the small limb I was cutting, still attached to the trunk by a thin rope of bark, swung down unexpectedly in a twisting motion and whacked me across the nose. The ease of my new chainsaw had me feeling a little too confident. I was lucky I didn’t break my nose.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, something odd turned up in the slough, which was quickly drying up to a small puddle. I first thought it was a dead duck. But as I inched forward with the buggy, I realized it was actually a duck decoy, apparently left by the previous owner. I did not manage to retrieve the decoy from the slough that day as I couldn’t get close enough by walking out to it, and had nothing to reach out into the murky water to drag it back towards dry land. I mentioned the decoy to FD, who said he’d retrieved another one from that same spot in the past, and that we’d go out to fetch it later in the week.
The following weekend, FD and I finished our work planting new wildlife feed plots and checking fences. It had been hot and tiring work, so we rewarded ourselves with an ice-cold beer and a leisurely trip in the buggy so FD could check out the decoy in the slough. The slough had dried up even more in the past week, which would make it a little easier to reach the decoy. As I drove the buggy over what looked like dry ground at one end of the remaining puddle in the slough, the back of the buggy quickly sunk in tarry mud! We tried using the buggy wench to pull ourselves out but, with the buggy sunk to the frame in the thick mud, the wench just didn’t have the strength required. So, we hiked back to our storage building to get the tractor. But that too proved useless, as the tractor couldn’t get the buggy to budge. And worse still, FD buried the front end of the tractor when trying to cross the slough in an area even farther away from the water hole, and one we had driven the buggy over many times in the past. Apparently, the weight of the tractor was enough to break through what turned out to be just a dry crust on top of a soggy muck underneath. So we hiked back to the storage building yet again, this time for FD’s 4-wheel-drive truck. But that too failed – the Ford just couldn’t budge either of the vehicles from the bog, uselessly spinning its tires on the vegetation lining the slough. At this point, I felt extremely deflated, thinking the “Ford Tough” advertising was just that… a marketing ploy. Finally, we had success after a phone call to a friend who has a bigger rig. He pulled both the buggy and tractor out with ease. FD and I were so thankful, relieved, and a bit elated as we drove back to the house. Then we spent the next two hours power-washing tarry slough mud from the tractor and buggy.
I have found that the events that make for the best storytelling are often unexpected surprises in life. We have all had moments of astonishment, shock, failure, or flat stupidity that catch us off-guard. The good thing is, at least most of the time, no one gets hurt and we learn from these experiences. I do not think either FD or I will drive across the slough again, even if it does appear to be dry!
© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…