The Farm Chronicles: The wagon and life

Things on the farm usually fell into about three categories: the easy, the hard, and the fun. There were various combinations of those as well. Hard is when it was wheat harvest and Dad’s ancient John Deere combine broke down while farmers were waiting to get their wheat out of the field. He would lay under that combine trying to cobble together whatever it was that was broken, sometimes spending hours. He would ask me to find a wrench. I could never find anything he wanted. He would say it was in a bin in the milk house. That bin had every tool in the world except that wrench. After 20 minutes of waiting for me to find it, he would show up, look down in the bin and pick up the wrench.

Often Dad would be banging on equipment with a hammer or a wrench trying to get a round peg to fit in a square hole and then wrap it up with bailing wire and duct tape in hopes it would last another day. We could have drove 16 miles into Ravenna and got the part, but, no, that would cost money and we didn’t have time for that. So he would bang away and hours later finally get it fixed for another day. The next day, there would be another problem and the process would start over again. To this day, I do not know how Dad was so patient with me as I could never find that tool where he told me it was, and he always found it after waiting forever for me to bring it to him. Those were the hard things. There were many of them. It wasn’t easy transitioning from a Depression-era mindset to a modern time when stores had inventory and parts.

Then there were the easy things. Yes, the easy things. Those easy things…Then there were the fun things, which were also often difficult. One time, Dad bought an old horse-drawn wagon from a retired blacksmith who was selling out down the road about eight miles. The wagon was not updated to be pulled by a tractor or a truck. So we had to improvise. A log chain hooked to the back of the old 1948 Farmall M would do. We headed out to fetch the wagon, Dad driving and me awkwardly standing on the drawbar, hanging on as we sped down the road in fifth gear. It was tricky getting the wagon chained to the tractor, and we had to go home at horse speed so as to not damage the metal wheels.

Mom and I weren’t sure why Dad wanted that old wagon. But he loved hitching a team of horses to it and doing work around the farm. One time, a friend gave him an old bathroom built on a house trailer. We hitched up the team to the wagon and after about a five-mile journey, we loaded that bathroom on the back of the wagon and took it to the campground in our woods. With some modifications, it became my new cabin. When we had visitors, Dad would often hitch up a team and give rides around the farm. That wagon was a lot of fun and of good use. 2 Timothy 2:6 says, “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the fruits (of his labor).” Dad was hardworking and he shared the fruits of his labor with others. We didn’t always understand why he did what he did, but it usually came out well. Good life lessons.

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Bill Wilson