HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 20, 2007, Herald Journal

Another farming fiasco

By JENNIFER GALLUS

It has been made painfully clear that those who read this column seem to enjoy my farming fiascoes. Well, this one is sure to live up to your expectations.

As I’ve shared before, my wonderful husband has a tendency to emotionally overheat in times of stress, while I tend to “under react,” unless there’s blood or broken bones.

It all started on what was a pleasant summer day two or three years ago. I was in the house, doing something, and my husband was cutting meadow hay.

Suddenly, he burst in the front door barking orders for me to come with him to help pull the tractor and haybine out of the creek.

“It’s sinking further and further every second – it’s peat ground, come on, let’s go,” he barked.

Now, immediately, I got internally nervous, and had no interest in helping the cause because I have no common sense about these types of situations nor do I care to expose myself to a crazed farmer in such a state of hysterics.

However, interest or no interest in the cause didn’t matter, I had no choice but to be dragged into the situation.

As we rushed out the door to the barn to get our big tractor, my feet felt like they were magnetized to the ground, as if they wanted to stay planted right at the house. Even they (my feet) knew the likely outcome of the upcoming “adventure.”

We hopped in our CAT tractor and drove to the scene, which didn’t look all that bad to me. My husband had gotten a little too close to the edge of the ditch and the tires of the tractor and haybine on that edge had sunk in some, just enough to immobilize the equipment.

Even though the scene looked relatively minor to me, my husband’s blood pressure was exponentially skyrocketing as he explained the plan of action.

I’m to drive the CAT, “because it’s safer” and he is to be on the tractor being pulled out. At this point, I had never driven the CAT so a quick and loud lesson was given with the end result of me breaking the log chain because I popped the clutch too fast.

Well, this did not go over well at all. I could actually feel his temper heating up the cab of that tractor. Suddenly I was transported into a desert-like atmosphere both temperature-wise and mentally. I could see tumbleweeds rolling around in my brain as I was given a thorough tongue lashing. I think I’ve blocked out most of my memory as to what words were said when I broke that chain.

All I know is tears were running down my cheeks as I was kicked out of the “safe” tractor and ordered onto the “unsafe” tractor.

I got out of the cab of the CAT, walked with my tail between my legs to the “stuck” tractor, and was given another set of instructions as to what to do when the thing started to move as it was pulled out.

I sat on that tractor as if I were a kid who had gotten into trouble. However, I was 30 years old and being scolded for something that I didn’t want to be involved with in the first place.

The tractor, haybine, and myself were pulled out very uneventfully, even though activity leading up to it was unproductive and unnecessary.

I did manage to drive the CAT back to the barn, all by myself, and park it without breaking anything.

It’s the situations where the husband is besides himself, too worked up to communicate in a reasonable manner, that lead to farm-wife failure.

I could’ve predicted this state of unhappiness as soon as he asked for my help. I don’t pretend to know how to do this type of thing so he shouldn’t expect anything less than unqualified assistance.

Of course, when all was said and done, my husband apologized for his hideous behavior. This type of farm crisis, where I’m forced into being directly involved, thankfully has only happened a few times in the 15 years we’ve been together.

It’s not all his fault. He comes from a long line of hot-headed farmers, and each generation of them seems to be mellowing a bit.

There is hope. He has been learning from these fiascoes, and I don’t let him forget them. I’m not one to let a learning opportunity pass!

Kid-isms

I was telling my boys about my first car, and the fact that on its last trip to the repair shop, the repair slip said, “Too hazardous to drive.” It was a 1973 AMC Concord, completely rusted, and not cute in the least.

After I described the vehicle to the boys, my 6-year-old said, “I bet it was used in the war – only the camouflage had rubbed off.”