Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cap Waving and Other Signals

"What happened to you?" I asked my brother, "You look like you've been Ultimate Fighting and took a kick to the side of the head." "It's quite a story," he replied, and so he began.
I've mentioned here that the Missouri River in these parts has been running bank full most of the summer. The brother in question lives on the banks of said river from the time his spray plane hits the air in the spring until he finishes running my combine in the fall, and then they high tail it for the Gulf Coast.
After heavy rains upstream, there will be assorted pieces of trees floating past their river cabin. A few weeks ago one such event washed a large cottonwood tree, top first, part way up his boat ramp. A gentle push from his little acreage tractor would be all that was needed to break the tree loose from its mooring.
Yes, his tractor is small, but it does have a loader, a rollover protection top and front wheel assist. Fearing nothing, he guided the tractor down the ramp to the point where he met the top of the tree and began to push. His front wheels came off the ground a bit but he didn't want to stop since the operation was working so well. As the tree set sail, his front wheels settled into what he thought would be about 2 inches of mud on the ramp.
The only problem was the shallow mud wasn't shallow. It came all the way up to the frame of the tractor. And there he sat, up to the motor in mud on the banks of the Muddy Mo. The mud was so deep that he couldn't even use the loader bucket to ratchet himself out.
Right here is the point when any farmer who has been paying attention will avoid going to the house to ask for help. Why, you ask? Because if you get another man to help you, he'll be willing to forget whatever stupid statement you might come up with while pulling the tractor out of the mud. Women on the other hand realize that there will be a "transfer of blame" just because they participated. It will become their fault that you got your tractor stuck. This makes it so the man must ask nicely when he's so mad at himself, he could chew nails.
"Honey, do you have a second to come help me? Please?"
Which in turn will bring a response which refers to the last time she helped pull you out of the mud some eight years ago and that sounds like this, "Is it something you think I can do right this time?"
And so it went. He got his nice 4-wheel-drive F-150 backed down the ramp, hooked a chain from drawbar to drawbar and then gave very explicit instructions. "Get in the truck, tighten the chain, and after I get on the tractor and am ready to go, I'll wave my cap and that will be your signal to go."
He again waded through the mud, started the motor, pushed the clutch in, found reverse and waved his cap with his right hand. It was right then that he noticed the approximately two dozen paper wasps that he had dislodged with his waving cap. They had a nest up under his sunshade. He now began waving his hat with a vengeance in an attempt to kill the wasps that had already landed a couple of punches (stings) to the side of his head.
Meanwhile in the truck, his better half has made the decision that crazy hat waving can only mean one thing: go faster. And so she did. The more he waved the hat in what she thought was his disgust with her slow pace, the faster she went. After the stings began, he quickly decided that his cap waving now needed to mean, STOP! I WANT TO GET OFF THIS TRACTOR!
He told me later that he thought about bailing off of the tractor, but he didn't think he could have survived it. He'd never gone that fast on a tractor before, especially in reverse.
Thinking back, he said, this was at least as exciting as the time the cam shaft broke on his spray plane and the propeller quit turning.
Doing some research I've found that paper wasps aren't considered "aggressive" unless you do something to aggravate them, like for instance waving your cap at them.
I guess in that respect, they're similar to women.

And The Best Actor Award Goes To:

the oppossum that's been laying in the road in front of our house for the past 3 days. Alright already, you look dead, now get up and leave.

Thursday, October 07, 2010