It has been a stressful last couple of weeks but, knock wood, life is momentarily back under control. In between the various family alarums and competing commitments I’ve managed to get quite a bit of my farm work list accomplished. God has been helpful and held back the snow. (Though I’ve been pleased, Lucy and DH peer outside every morning, hoping for white stuff, and gnash their teeth.)
While the temperature was above freezing last week I stained the trim on DH’s cabin that had been waiting for two years. I had been going to rent an extension ladder but my friend D heard my plans and lent me his.
D was untying the ladder from his roof rack after hunting when he said, “Got your mower back yet?” He knew one of the tasks on my list was to bring my old lawn tractor back from Betty’s field to store for winter.
“Actually, no, I was just speaking to Mike yesterday. He said I could borrow his trailer so I’ll probably run into town later for that.”
“How about them ramps you got?” He knew I have a pair of light metal ramps that I can use to drive equipment up onto my truck.
“Oh, well, you know —”
“Scared?” D said abruptly.
Indeed I was, very scared. The ramps are aluminum. They do not attach to the truck tailgate but merely rest against it. Driving the walk-behind brush hog up on the truck six weeks ago, I’d miscalculated, the ramps had slid apart, and I and the heavy brush hog had both fallen off the tailgate — luckily without injury, but with plenty of fright. Attempting to load the larger lawn tractor seemed an invitation to disaster. As the lawn tractor is not articulated, there would be a moment when the front of the machine was in the air before the mower deck slammed down into the truck bed.
“If you want, I’ll help you.”
Hallelujah! D is a heavy equipment operator who loads giant machines every day. My scary lawn tractor would be nothing to him.
We drove down to Betty’s field. I set up the ramps. Without the slightest hesitation D drove the mower up into the truck. It was a tight squeeze to fit the deck between the wheel wells but he parked it expertly and the job was done. Hooray! Isn’t it wonderful to have someone else take charge!
I drove us back to the farm. D lowered the tailgate and set up the ramps again, kicking loose stones out of the way. He casually mentioned loading a four-wheeler on a similar rocky driveway and ending up in the hospital for stitches. Oh.
Then he nodded at the mower in the truck. “OK. Get up there and back it off. I’ll brace the ramps.”
“Me? Back it off the truck? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Get up there!” he snarled.
I climbed into the truck. I was sure he must be joking. “You’re kidding, right?”
I looked at his grim face. He was not kidding. In fact he was standing at the tailgate practically under the machine. I was sure I would do something wrong and he would be killed. “I don’t think —”
“Hurry up!” he snapped.
I sat down on the mower and turned the key. The engine roared. I looked over my shoulder again. “I really don’t think I can —”
D scowled ferociously. “Do it!”
Which was a more frightening prospect, D’s temper or death by lawnmower? That was easy. Terrified, I began inching the machine backward onto the ramps. There was a lump of ice in my stomach.
As the mower began to lurch over the arch in the ramps, I automatically pushed in the clutch to brake.
“Don’t stop!” D roared.
Startled, I released the clutch and zoomed down the ramps with a clatter. In a moment I was breathless and safe on the ground. Thank God. It was over and I was alive.
“Don’t never brake,” D’s voice said calmly, “goin’ down ramps. They’ll kick out and you’ll fall.”
When my heartbeat returned to normal I realized I could cross another chore off my list. Bring mower home from Betty’s. Check.
Only about a dozen more tasks and I’ll be as ready for winter as I can be.