Clint’s Chronicles on the Funny Farm: The Rest of the Story
I will never forget the day! One of the things that Clint’s plowing Vickie’s yard taught me was to be sure and verify that the message was loud and clear! I had asked Clint if he knew where a little field was across the creek from where we were working that day and he had assured me he knew. I got to the field I had been talking about and there was no Clint. It was an hour or so later that I learned he had actually plowed up the neighbor’s yard. Harrell Hill is a very quiet, easy going neighborhood, but plowing up someone’s yard was pushing buttons even for Harrell Hill. There was laughter over this even for several years and I had to reseed and smooth out the yard twice to get it back in shape. (See Miss Vicki’s yard today on the left.) Oh how I miss the days of all the mishaps and fun we had and lived to tell about it. The Funny Farm stories are real life examples of how we should be able to find fun and joy at even the most horrendous events. I have not had a chance to visit with Glen and Vickie this spring, I think they have just gotten back to the mountains and Harrell Hill after spending the winter down off the mountains. I am sure we will still get a laugh out of the memories though, when we do get a chance to chat.
As late as March of this year I believed I was a country boy. My home is Hendersonville, NC, a nice town of 20,000+ only 1 ½ hours away. But my perspective changed dramatically in late March when I came to spend a few months with my friends Doug and Barbara Harrell at Harrell Hill Farm near Bakersville.
Doug and I go back more than twenty years, I was executive vice president for GTE Corporation (now Verizon) and Doug was a technology marketer. A “country boy” who done good is the way I often thought of me.
Well let me tell you, I have learned some valuable and unforgettable lessons since arriving in the real ‘country’…I’ve worked on the farm now for nearly six months and experienced things which could only happen in a Chevy Chase film – or to me.
Anyway, if y’all will tolerate me I want to share some of my hair raising farm stories. We’ll call them “Clint’s Chronicles on the Funny Farm” – names will be changed to protect the innocent, and chances are I may exaggerate the facts a wee bit. It will go something like this:
Clint’s Chronicles on the Funny Farm
I was filled with joy the day Doug let me drive his Kioti tractor for the first time. A sprig of hay in my teeth, dirty jeans on my body and a holey tee shirt rounded out my attire…oh yeah, and a great straw hat! So if you think I was ecstatic just getting behind the wheel, imagine my delight when he sent me on my first solo plowing mission.
“Hey Clint, you know that field on the other side of the river?” Doug asked. I assured him I knew just the spot. “Why don’t you take the tractor down there after lunch and plow it for potatoes?” Folks let me tell ya, I nearly jumped for joy but chose not to appear too eager. Think about it, me, a tractor and a plow…virgin ground, I was a full-fledged farmer in a few short weeks. My heart was filled with wonder.
I was proud as a peacock drivin’ that machine down Harrell Hill Road. Go figure, this was the coolest experience a man could have. And I was dead set on making Doug proud, sure I would make the best plower – or whatever you call a plow person – ever.
I pulled into my appointed plot of ground, flexed my hands, sat high in the saddle – oops I mean seat – and lowered the plow thingy. When I pushed the little green button that makes the plow thingy plow, I experienced an adrenaline rush. If only my daddy could see me now.
I plowed and I plowed…I waved at folks driving by, some slowing down to gawk at me rather suspiciously. But I didn’t mind, I thought, “I am ONE with the tractor.”
Every now and then I would turn my head slightly to admire the progress, plowing, digging, excavating…I was the ‘real deal’, a virtual John Deere. I hesitate to call it a spiritual experience but darned near.
As I turned the ground, making deep rows for potatoes I heard a soft rap on the tractor door. Glancing to my left, a small woman, her head covered with a sunbonnet, gazed up at me, her eyes a bit frantic. I was more than a tad annoyed; I stopped the plower (or whatever you call it), killed the roaring engine, and asked, “Hello ma’am, may I help you?”
“Yes, I think so. My name is Vicky, what are you doing?” she asked. All the while I’m thinking it’s pretty clear what I’m doing, can’t she see I am a farmer preparing a potato field? “Hi, my name is Clint and I am plowing,” I replied. “I am helping my friend Doug plant potatoes.”
Vicky removed her sunglasses and glared into my eyes, the look was laser-like as she asked, “On my property?” Uh oh…my heart fluttered, my pulse raced, my head began to pound, my skin glowing like a burning ember as I answered, “Oh Lord I hope not!”
At that moment I had a near out-of-body experience as I imagined the consequences for my error. I’ve seen the films when a farmer encroaches on another’s land – he is always shot with a Colt .45. I watched Miss Vicky’s hands, fully expecting her to draw a pistol from her pocket and end my life.
I considered leaping from my tractor and running away, but I was hemmed in – either jump into the Toe River on the left or onto Harrell Hill Road on my right. Surely I would drown in the swirling torrent or get squished by a cattle trailer on the road. So I said to Vicky, “Um, ma’am, I am so sorry. I don’t even know what to say. You see I thought this was the place I was supposed to plow. Please understand, I’m new here, never been a farmer before…in fact this is the first time I’ve ever used a plow thingy. This is my first BIG farm mistake. What on earth can I do to make this right? Just tell me, anything, and I will do it!” Suddenly her countenance changed and with a twinkle in her eyes and a warm smile Miss Vicky replied, “A little grass seed would be nice.”
Later that day my friend Doug visited my victim. They had a good chuckle over the city boy’s error and she told him, “At first I was pretty upset but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such terror in another person’s face. His eyes were as big as hubcaps! I just had to laugh.” And Doug planted grass seed, twice in fact.
As I reflect on this event I am humbled by God’s grace expressed through the actions of a stranger. I would understand Miss Vicky taking great offense for my wrong against her; instead she showed mercy. I learned more about humility that day.
P.S. If you see a 60 year old man driving a Kioti near your property please don’t shoot. He is surely lost and needs directions.