Sunday, January 11, 2015

Revelations from a Tractor Cab

      Tractor Time.

       Listening to the BS stories in the feed store, I hear many "good ole time" stories about driving the tractor down by the river, in the fields, hauling hay or the tractor unintentionally ending up in a location not normally meant for large machinery.  Then there are others that view it as a place they must spend time while they finish yet another task on their To-Do list.

     There are so many things that little space does for me.  It can be an escape from the daily grind.  From house chores, whom no woman/man thoroughly enjoys, I don't care how much you say you do, we know you are fibbing.  It is time alone to think or not to think at all.   Most of the time there is minimal signal on my phone, therefore, the calls asking or telling me what I must do when I leave my voluntary confinement, have to wait until I end my day and drive up the hills when the cell signal will reach me.

     My husband had a fit when I started attempting farm chores directly after finishing my time in a wheelchair of sixteen months.  He also noticed the determined set of my jaw.  He closed his eyes so he could hide how he rolled them all the way to the back of his skull and sat down with me to form a safe plan.  We now have a tractor with a cab(thank you!), one that the clutch is easily pushed to the floor, easily shifted into a new gear, has heat/air and an air cushioned seat.  I did not ask for all of these amenities, but if this is what my husband concludes is safe for me, then by all means I will accept.

     Because I did not walk much until my third year of recovery, my time in the tractor was limited.  Once I got there, I could only climb in and out two or three times before my ankles would collapse.  We practice rotational grazing on our home farm, so this was a challenge as I would have to open and close gates to reach my destination.  Many of my adventures were me sitting, looking out the back window, then at the cows, estimating if I could complete my duty before any cows found the opening, which meant I could mark one climb out of the cab off my list if I did not close the gate.  There was a time when I estimated every length of a walk and how many steps it would take to get there, so saving any amount of extra effort was mulled over.

     My farm pardners are inexplicably patient with my injuries and amount of time it takes me to complete my endeavors.  They are also patient when it doesn't work out so well and I send them a picture of my "Oh shit, this happened today".  Amusement at my texts while they are in meetings, me questioning why I simply cannot figure out how to hook certain machinery together or understand why it will not start because a particular lever must be in a certain position beforehand.  I have flipped off every piece of farm machinery we use.  When you have been performing these functions for much of your life, you take for granted the elementary check list you go through each of these times, but for someone like me who is in the field alone and I remind you, very little signal ( no "how to" YouTube videos) it can be purely exasperating!  I grew up with a 1936 Continental tricycle tractor, then to my husbands 1970's John Deere and I was always deemed the driver not the hooker upper.  

     Today though, I can almost always figure things out and am at the point that I can utilize my hours to rid my mind of any conflicts or use it to interpret those conflicts.  There are days when I just
want to sit in the silence of the cab, let the drone of the engine or swish of the tedder, take my thoughts to nowhere specific.  Plugging in my iPod, I may sing anything from Alabama to Nelly to White Snake, inadvertently conducting my own concert right here in rural America.  I do not know what the cows think of me or my singing, namely because I do not speak cow, but they say the same dang thing every time they talk anyway, so who really knows.  

     Those other days, I speak to myself from the time I enter to the time I leave that tiny space.  Working through my personal struggles, praying for peace and understanding and hoping my life continues in the wonderful direction it is traveling.  Society conveys that we must look to others to be the hero in our life, while I agree that life is made easier with the support of others, I believe we can all be heroes in our own lives.  We, as individuals, are at the helm, right?  We ultimately decide what direction we are going to take, whether we will get up and make it a great day or drown in the sorrows of our dark thoughts.  Hardships are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.  Our character is always up to us.  As I sit in the middle of a field, I smile at once again having a focus besides recovering from my injuries.  There is one thing that I crave the most from these times, one thing that I must have in my life to survive and that is accomplishment.  I cannot live without it, I must have a purpose.

      Whether I have a grand revelation or not, at the end of my farm day, I always appreciate that I am going to be A-Okay.  If there is one piece of advice that I will  pass on to every farmer, man, woman or child, it is:

Always. Close. the Gate.


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