Howard Lake Herald, June 8, 1998

Nothing like good ol' horsepower

By Vic Gruenhagen

You wanted a wild farm story; I got one.

When I was 10 or 11 years old, Dad started me out cutting first crop alfalfa with two young horses named Ted and Dolly.

Well, Dad made the first two or three rounds. It went real good. Then he walked home to haul milk to the creamery, I remember.

I was using the new rubber tire mower that Dad bought for about $400 from Fred Main, the New Idea dealer in Howard Lake. It had a nice little 4-foot cut sickle.

So, on my fourth or fifth round, I hit a nice pheasant nest. I stopped the horses, and put 11 or 12 eggs in the little tool box by my feet on the mower. I was going to take them home to put under an old cluck chicken that Ma had in the hen house.

This field was right west of the railroad bridge, next to the old Highway 12 state road. Sure enough. The early morning freight train came down the tracks, and my horses got scared of the black smoke and took off, trotting at first.

I hollered, "Whoa, whoa, whoa."

Then I kicked the lever on the mower out of gear. Then I jumped off and slid, still holding the lines as the horses galloped down the road with me on my belly trying to stop them from galloping.

I went about 60 or 70 feet before I let go of the lines. They ran down the old road wide open, over the bridge for home on a full gallop.

Luckily, the sickle didn't catch the railing on the bridge. I was chasing them on foot. They ran into our yard, and Mother was outside hanging up clothes when they galloped by her on our driveway.

She hollered at them to stop. It didn't help. They finally stopped by a shed where one small door was open. One horse tried to run in the door, but the other horse couldn't get in. So what happened was the pole on the mower rammed a hole in the wall of the shed, so they had to stop.

Me and Ma unhooked the horses and put them in the barn. We fixed the hole so Dad wouldn't see it when he came home.

Believe it or not only four pheasant eggs were broken in the tool box. Mom put the rest of the eggs under the cluck in the hen house.

A hired man finished cutting hay later on that day. I had enough of that wild ride.

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