“It’s not like we’re unfamiliar with the concept of rust,” Larry said. “Remember the time the floor of my ’58 Impala rusted out and you could see the street when I pulled the mat to vacuum it?”
“Right,” I said. “So what did that guy mean Did you buy the truck at the beach? They don’t salt for snow at the beach.”
“Don’t know. I looked while they had it up on the rack and I didn’t see any rust.”
We were still smarting from the comments of the man who’d installed the shiny new running boards on Bob-the-Truck. It was clear from his attitude that we were a couple of nursing-home escapees who’d gotten hosed on a purchase. Of course, we did operate on trust that Tommy’s truck would be okay, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to be fine for our purposes. And the new running boards are great.
Turning back onto our property, we noticed that Paul, the guy from Craig’s List, was there unloading his tractor and mowing rig. We hadn’t heard that he would be there, so the day took a definite turn for the better. Excellent! He got right to work and the orchard soon began to look, well, mowed. See below:
Having finished the actual orchard, Paul asked if we’d like him to mow around the rest of the area. Mark’s people had been there again, and now the fence hugs the road and draws a fairly small circle around the building site. Unfortunately, it also fences off the slash piles we’ve been working on. But it would be easy to mow at least around the big central oak, so of course we agreed.
Note that snag in the tree, poised to decapitate anyone sitting on the stump. Left here by Shonnard’s tree fellers on the grounds that they had no way to remove it.
Larry, meanwhile, had donned his protective power-saw gear and with the help of rubber soled boots and a board had stepped across the very-much-live fence wires and was attempting to start the saw. Paul noticed his difficulty, and observing his technique, literally jumped from his tractor across the fence and ran to help Larry. “Having trouble?” he politely asked, and then proceeded offer instruction on the arcane secrets of power-saw management. Seems Larry had been incompletely schooled by the Stihl people, and while he’d been successful in starting the thing with their method, it had apparently been at some peril to various body parts.
Paul disconnected the mower and attached the tiller. It took at least an hour to break up the turf, but he eventually determined that he couldn’t improve on the job. He’d need to come back in a couple of weeks when the material had decomposed to a degree that could be more completely broken up.
But so long as he was there, did we want him to put a chain on that snag and pull it down with his tractor? We did.
He succeeded and was busy loading the tiller onto his trailer when I noticed Larry fall. On the ground, on his back — a sight that looms in my nightmares. “Are you okay? Is it your hip? What happened?”
“I’m fine. I just need a minute.”
“Can you get up? Shall I get Paul over here?”
“No! I’ll be fine. Just give me a minute.”
I was afraid to let Paul get away until I knew if Larry would be able to get up, so I paced around, wringing my hands until he rolled over and began to stand up, a piece at a time. “What happened?” I kept asking. “What were you doing?”
“I was just crossing the fence and the board I was using to hold the wire slipped. I got shocked.”
“But it’s not that bad. We’ve both gotten shocked. It’s not so . . .”
“Between my legs.”
Still makes me laugh.
Life went on, and while I was leaning against the trailer writing a check for Paul, we noticed that the chain had come off Larry’s saw. He held it up in a question for Paul, who nodded. Brought it over to the trailer whereupon Paul whipped the housing off, reattached the chain, tightened it, checked the oil, and handed it back. Here’s Paul, whom we now call The Godsend:
The next morning — that is, today — we were packing for a quick trip to Black Butte when Larry came out of his office waving a message forwarded from the people who’d built the road. Seems we were delinquent in having various stages of the road construction inspected by the county. Oh dear God, what now? Were we going to have to tear the road apart so that some hard hat from the county could observe whether the job had been done correctly? As you will imagine, this darkened the mood in the Viehl household quite significantly. Grrr. But, the official from the county called, said he did not know why this notice had been sent, all appeared in order, inspections complete. He would check it out and phone us if there were anything we needed to worry about. Don’t call us for another couple of days, okay? Every time the phone rings . . .
Farming is not, it seems, a profession easily learned in the winter of life.