I have not been sleeping recently. I’m often awake at 1:30 AM and always up by 3 AM. I’m not as unnerved by these periodic bouts of insomnia as I used to be; I’m simply working methodically to cut out coffee, wine, or anything else that might be a factor. Still, I can feel the creeping mental dullness.
Ten days ago I took this photo of the entry to the bottom of Betty’s pasture. This is the only way into the field for a truck. Babs and I pulled the shelters and ran the sheep in at the dry top of the hill.
This low area is always muddy. It is also a steep drop-off from the driveway, and flanked by boulders on both sides, making it a narrow left turn. My poor truck took a beating last summer, sliding and fishtailing in the mud between the rocks.
My plan this year was to spread crusher run in the worst of the wallow. Betty had given me permission to do whatever I wanted. I knew I couldn’t afford an 18-ton tandem load (18 tons is surprisingly little when it comes to crusher run; it is incredibly heavy). The expense, however, is not the material but the trucking. I spoke to folks at the quarry and learned that I could drive over and have them fill the back of my pick-up for only $12. I was thrilled. I planned to peck away at this job through the summer, improving the entry one hand-shoveled load at a time.
In the meantime, though, I had to get water to my sheep. Babs and I had carried buckets over the stone walls higher in the fields, but now I wanted to fill the 40-gallon trough.
I don’t know where my mind was Monday morning. Asleep, perhaps.
I forgot all about our wet, wet spring. I drove blithely down the slope.
The mud was not the usual puddle to splash through. It was a quagmire. The truck sank instantly to its bumper, its front wheels buried. I put it in four-wheel drive and tried to reverse. Nothing. I climbed out and slopped around the front to take a look. The sunken nose of the truck was jammed up against boulders. There was no way I could move an inch.
I was so tired I barely reacted except to wonder what Tony, the neighbor, would think about the giant new lawn ornament cantilevered alongside his driveway.
I hiked up the hill in a fog and moved the sheep to fresh grass. “No water this morning, girls, sorry.”
I literally couldn’t think what to do. The school has a tractor but I hated to ask. I wasn’t even sure a tractor could pull the truck out. Finally I sat on a boulder in the middle of the field and called D for advice. D is extremely gruff but knows everything about machines.
“For Chrissake! With the ground this wet? Why the hell would you —?” he began, but broke off. (The great thing about having a reputation as clueless is that people eventually are unsurprised.) D had some ideas but unfortunately he was already at work and could not help.
I trudged the half mile back home. My friend Mike drove by on his way to the dump. I told him about my truck.
“Oh, gee, Sis, how come you — ” But he stopped too, simply shaking his head.
Mike didn’t think a tractor was the answer. The whole back end of my truck would need to be lifted and pivoted away from the rocks before the truck could be hauled up the slope out of the mud. “Think you need a tow truck, Sis, with a winch.”
“Gosh,” I said unthinkingly, “I wish I could call AAA.”
“Try it!” Mike exclaimed.
“I don’t think they’d call getting stuck in mud in a pasture a ‘roadside emergency.’ ”
I went inside and telephoned AAA. Tony’s long driveway was recently given a 9-1-1 road sign. I explained to a kind dispatcher that my truck was slightly “off-road.”
Two hours later a tow-truck was there. So was Tony, whom I had telephoned to explain my abandoned vehicle. Both Tony and Jay, the local garage owner driving the tow-truck, were smiling. Obviously I was a fool and they were too generous to rub it in.
As Jay hooked up the winch, I told Tony my crusher-run plan and asked if the next time he had his tractor out he might push back the closest boulders a little. He agreed.
In fifteen minutes my truck, now coated heavily with mud, was back on hard ground. I carried six buckets of water to my sheep over the wall and drove home, sagging with tiredness.
Two hours later I received an email from Tony. He had taken out his tractor immediately. Not only had he pushed back the boulders but he’d laid down a couple of yards of his own stone and crusher run in the worst of the mud hole, which also softened the drop-off.
What a kind, kind neighbor. I wrote my profuse thanks.
Tony replied, “Always glad to help a farmer!”
I knew he was teasing but I smiled for hours.