Life on a Farm for a City Kid

60 years old doesn’t seem that old to me but I might be mistaken. Two recent experiences sort of pointed out that maybe Father Time is moving a bit closer to me. My wife Elizabeth and I live in rural eastern North Carolina where she grew up on a farm. The farm has been in the family for many years and is mostly involved in raising grass-fed cattle. This effort is led by a neighbor who leases the land and does a good job keeping the cows happy.

I grew up in the city near Washington, DC and don’t have a lot of ag skills to offer but cutting the grass and taking the trash to a recycling center about 10 miles away seems doable to me and generally I am capable of handling the tasks until recently. Keeping the grass cut along our entry road isn’t too tough if you remember to stay out of the ditches that run along one side.

Event #1:

Unfortunately I failed in this effort and slid the zero turn lawnmower down and into a ditch that fortunately was dry. I tried a couple of times to get out of the ditch but this didn’t work and I almost flipped the mower over backwards with me on it! What to do?

No one was home so I called the place where we bought the mower.

Store: “Hello, Horne’s.”

Me: “Hi, I’m Mr. Maxwell’s Yankee son-in-law, Dennis and I’ve driven our new mower into a ditch and can’t get out. Can you come tow me out?”

Store: “Are you located across the road from the Funeral Home and next door to the Graveyard at the Maxwell farm?”

Me: “Yes.”

Store: “O.k, we’ll send Mike over shortly to help you.” (Roadside service from a lawnmower company? Never happen in the city!)

I waited along the road by the mower for about 10 minutes when a white pick-up truck drove up.

Mike: “Are you Mr. Maxwell’s Yankees son-in-law?” Asked the teenager driving the truck.

Me: “Yes, I’m Dennis. I’ve driven into the ditch and can’t get up!” Trying to add a little humor. I noticed that the kid didn’t have a any sort of equipment, tow bar, winch…nothing.

Without saying another word the young man jumped into the ditch and grabbed the front of the zero turn mower with a 60" cutting deck with one hand. He then yanked the front end up and with 2 steps pulled it out of the ditch and placed it safely on the grass strip I was cutting.

Me: “Wow! I can’t believe you could pull the mower out with one hand like that!”

Mike: “No big deal. I do this several times a day around here”

Me: “How much do I owe you?”

Mike: “Nothing because your a good customer!”

I gave him $20 and thanked him.

Event #2

I generally take the trash to the recycling center (which has no recycling bins?) once a week. Sometimes I end up not going and this creates a big problem for me. We fill a large trash container and another smaller one every week so waiting a few more days really increases the load. I use a small Toyota pickup truck to take the trash. The recycling center uses these giant containers that look like shipping containers with no top. The sides are about 7 feet high but usually they put a set of wooden steps to help with the task.

The last time I went about a week late the weight of the bag was unbelievable. Despite the heavy duty nature of the bag it still burst as I tried to launch it over the side of the container. Most of the trash went into the container but I still had a giant mess to clean-up.

So recently I had another delay and went to the recycling center dreading my task. As I drove up I noticed that they hadn’t put out the steps! So now I had to launch this mess straight up over my head and try to spring it into the container. I tried. I really did. With everything I had I tried to swing the bag around my body and try to launch it. Nothing worked. The huge bag just sat there on the ground taunting me. Just then a pick-up pulled up with two teenage boys inside.

Me: “Hi, could you give me a hand lifting this into the container?”

The kid in the passenger seat looked at me and said: “Sure!”

He came over and I started to lift under the bag to give him a hand.

The kid: “That’s ok, I’ve got it!”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Kid: “No problem!” And he took the bag off the ground with one hand and tossed into the container with a smile.

Me: “Wow!” “Can I pay you?”

Kid: “No, that wasn’t a big deal!” And waved goodbye.

Well, age 60 isn’t that old but around these parts I qualify for assistance apparently!