Yesterday, Jim and I spent most of the day inside the Cottage. Well…maybe I should say I did. Jim, on the other hand, started doing some of the going-home chores that he normally does AFTER we finish cutting. Things like change oil in the pickups, grease whatever needs greased and preparing for the 900+ mile trip “home, home”.
It was about 4:30 when he walked through the door and announced he was going to take a trip out to the combine. That trip is about 40 miles. “Give me a second to finish what I’m doing and I’ll ride along”, I said. It didn’t take me long to finish typing what I was typing, shut off the internet, throw on my shoes and walk out the door.
Gosh, it felt good to get out of there and head back down the roads that we had been travelling daily until the rains began just a week ago today (Friday). The day was beautiful and the sky seemed extra blue and clear. Once we got just west of Jordan, I noticed it…the color green. It was only seven days ago the color was brown. The desert had come to life after that life-giving rain we had. Jordan was blessed with about half her normal year’s rainfall in just two days.
Jim eased his way into the field and then I could sense his nervousness. “What’s wrong?”, I asked. “Well, I could feel the tires spinning”. This service pickup of ours is very heavy and doesn’t get along very well. We don’t have 4-wheel drive (and probably should). I’ve seen this pickup spin in very dry, powdery soil and get stuck. So, it didn’t surprise me when he bailed out of it and said, “I’ll be back”.
He had to see for himself what condition the field was in. In all the years that we’ve been coming to Jordan, we’ve never experienced rain such as we had. Rumor has it that the fields where the equipment was sitting might have had 7″-8″ of rain. Like I said, the yearly average rainfall for Jordan is 12.73″.
While Jim was walking to the Beast and Frank, I took off on my own. I wanted to walk to the coulee I had been to a couple of weeks ago to see how full of water it was. As I walked through the field towards the road, I couldn’t help notice the HUGE elk tracks that were in the mud.
I returned to the pickup at exactly the same time Jim did. He lowered the tailgate, sat down and started scraping the mud from his boots. “Well, what’d you find?”, I asked. “There’s mud everywhere. But you see, it’s not regular mud. I don’t understand what’s out there. There’s sand and there are seeps and it’s troublesome”. This stresses Jim beyond words. To bury a combine is the worst nightmare he could have.
After he finished scraping the mud, we jumped back in the cab and backed out of the field. “Want to go back a different way?” “Sure!” So we drove to an intersection and turned south. “I’m going to turn left at every intersection we come to” When we got to the first T in the road, he asks me, “Left or right?” I said, “Right.” Then he tried to convince me why we shouldn’t turn right. So, I said, “Why do you ask me if you’re going to do what you want to anyway?” Guess I must have made him feel bad, because he turned right. “Well, we have between 1/4 and 1/2 tank of gas.” I could sense his nervousness. He didn’t know where we were and I was feeling like I had done something wrong by suggesting the turn to the right. Eventually, we started recognizing different landmarks. “I know where we’re at!”, he exclaimed. Whew! This even made me feel better.
We eventually made our way to the highway and headed East back towards Jordan. We came to a familiar turnoff and he headed south again. “How long has it been since you’ve been down this road?” “Gosh, I don’t even know. A long, long, long time!” We were headed to a part of the world that used to be his (our) daily routine a lot of years ago. We were headed to Tom Thumb’s “rock farm”. We started cutting this particular area in 1991. Its nickname, “rock farm”, comes from the numerous large rocks that are scattered throughout the fields. Jim used to come home from these fields stressed to the max. Putting a rock through the machine would not have been good on the ‘ole Case combine. Jim’s dad was the truck driver. Back when it was just Jamie and Jenna and it was our job to haul meals to the field. The last year we were here would have been 1999.
Then I spotted an old friend of mine…Henry. After we bought Henry from my Grandpa, we nicknamed it after Henry Ford. Grandpa bought two of these trucks in 1973 and one in 1974. Jim thinks these may have been the only new trucks he ever bought. These are what he pulled his combines with.
You can find more old pictures if you visit the post titled, “boredom produces old harvest picture gallery“.
“Here, let me take a picture of you.”, says Jim. He knew how much this truck meant to me. I just needed to crawl in the cab one more time to see if it still smelled the same. The same sweet, gassy, greasy smell that I remember from so many years ago. It did. And the tears began to flow. How can a piece of equipment – a truck – make you feel like you did when you were 12? I sort of have this 12-year-old theme going, I guess. First it’s the Massey Ferguson 750 combine and now it’s the 1973 Ford grain truck. Oh…if only they could talk!