The Rest of the Story
Clint’s first day on the farm! It does not seem possible that that day was almost nine years ago, how time flies. The story is still as good as it was the day he wrote it and even funnier than it was watching it unfold before my eyes! The old Jeep is still on the farm, but I have not started it in a couple of years. No doubt it would still run, but the bed probably would fall off for sure this time around. I guess it will just have to stay in retirement to remind me of days of joy, glee and misery on the farm during Clint’s time there.
A Cornucopia of Catastrophes
A Hodge Podge of Hilarity
A Diary of Dangers
By Clint Pollard
I now know that you don’t care how I title these little missives, your interest runs no deeper than to guffaw at my misdeeds and near-misses with meltdown. Wherever I go people approach, stare at me, shake their heads, smile and say…”Can’t wait to hear what you did next!” Just last week a lady “liked” one of my Facebook posts and asked, “Aren’t you the ‘crazy farmer’ from the Funny Farm?” Well yes ma’am, I am one and the same!
Day 1 On The Farm
It was late March, 2010, when I arrived at Harrell Hill Farms. I hailed from the Big City of Hendersonville, NC, a mere 1 ½ hours away but it might as well be another planet. Imagining myself a “country boy” all my life, try to picture my surprise when I truly arrived in the real country; thinking I was from “the mountains” in Hendersonville, consider my shock as my eyes beheld the hills of Yancey and Mitchell County. Holy smokes!
I figured my buddy Doug Harrell would have mercy on my first-ever Farmer Clint day. You know, maybe I could carry a stick of firewood, possibly feed the cows, do whatever it is that greenhorns do when they first set out to be farm hands. But noooooooooooooooooooooooooo, not Doug…no mercy had he!
The first clue that life was about to change for City Slicker Clint was hearing Doug bellow up the stairs…”Pollard, are you up? We’re burning daylight!” Mind you, I’ve always been an early to bed, early to rise sort of fellow…I’m talking in the rack by 10:00 pm and up at 6:00 am; seems like a civilized schedule, don’t you think? The notion of arising at 4:30 am was never a part of my thinking…until today.
I must confess that the serenity of an awakening farm is something very special…the unfiltered sunlight peering over the mountains, critters and their morning sounds, the total lack of traffic noise and city sounds, ‘twas somewhat heavenly. Plus, Doug prepared buckwheat pancakes with homemade syrup…oh yeah, and I had my first-ever taste of pure sorghum molasses, man alive that was fine stuff! Although partially asleep I still liked the way my new life was developing.
Unsafe At Any Speed
In previous tales I made mention of “Blackie”, my assigned mode of transportation and a vehicle I came to honor and adore. It is an ancient, let’s say 1965 model Jeep truck (I’m not sure that is correct but I am the one telling the story!) Anyway, Doug escorted me into the frigid morning air and introduced me to the ugliest, scariest, most decrepit looking vehicle you can imagine. Admiring my new ride I asked, “What am I supposed to do with that?” With that slight, mischievous, crooked grin I’ve come to love, Doug explained that this would be my farm truck for the day. I made every effort to be impressed and grateful, trying not to barf.
There were a few things I should know about “Blackie”…first, never turn the ignition totally off when stopped – it freezes the switch preventing you from being able to start the vehicle again; the brakes were a bit dicey, so it was wise to keep a hand on the emergency brake; the door handle on the driver’s side tends to ‘want to fall off’ (how does an inanimate object ‘want to do something’???) leaving you trapped like a rat inside; the window on the passenger side needs to be left rolled up….OOOPS, too late! (If you begin rolling it down, like I did, it falls inside the door and you need the jaws of life to retrieve it); ya gotta put the sucker in 1st gear when parked, otherwise it has a tendency to roll downhill since the emergency brake kinda sorta doesn’t work; notice that the truck bed is being held intact with baling wire so don’t make sharp turns; blah blah blah! Keep in mind, I arrived at this Funny Farm in my 2004 F150 Ford truck as my “ride of choice”…Doug would later chastise me for driving a “city truck”.
Fat Farmer “Wannabe” Fetches Fertilizer
My assigned task was to “side-dress” Christmas trees with fertilizer…using a foreign object which Doug called a backpack (more on that in a moment). I drove the short distance from the farmhouse to the barn on Harrell Hill Road to fetch a gazillion bags of fertilizer. Remember, if you can, that I was not the svelte, fit Farmer Clint you know today…no, I was a rotund 300+ lbs. of pure blubber. Well, by the time I finished loading TONS of fertilizer on this death-trap of a Jeep I felt as though I had done a week’s work – and it was only 6:30 am.
Slip Sliding Away
I was dispatched to the home of Larry Harrell, Doug’s brother, HIGH on a hill off Hwy 226. When I saw the driveway I was reminded of the Tower of Babel, you remember – men trying to build a tower to heaven? This doggone driveway disappeared into the clouds…the steepest climb I could imagine, not forgetting that I was in Blackie! I motored up the first leg of this death driveway finally arriving at the top. Knowing that I would have to carry the 400 gazillion pounds of fertilizer bags I decided to drive the Jeep into the Christmas tree patch…bad idea!
FIRST LESSON for Farmer Clint…a 50 year old Jeep with questionable brakes, heading downhill on wet grass/weeds, is likely to slither right off the edge of the cliff…as I maneuvered this bucket of bolts, or better said as it maneuvered me, my life flashed before me…I was sliding uncontrollably toward the precipice on grass slick as glass, soon I would be toast…and this my very first day! When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a tiny dogwood tree protruding from the cliff’s edge…putting Blackie into a power-slide, okay so it put its own self into a power slide, the Jeep came to rest precariously on the very lip of the cliff, held in place by the twig. I quickly dismounted, dropping the erratic door handle in the grass (more on that later), and knelt in the wet grass, happy to be alive. Immediately I phoned a friend in Hendersonville, recounting my first hours on the farm, and warned him that he may need to rescue me from this madness!
Flubber On The Mountain
I was encouraged by the way Doug described the backpack thingy…”You don’t have to carry the bags of fertilizer; you just pour them into the backpack and use this little hose to drop the pellets around each tree.” Yeah, yadda yadda yadda…
- First of all, there are about 5,000 trees that I will have to dance around…
- Second, the 5,000 trees are planted on the side of a MOUNTAIN…a BIGGG MOUNTAIN…
- Third, I am FAT, VERY FAT, and I have to walk my chubby self sideways on this mountain…
- Fourth, when you dump the fertilizer into the little backpack thingy it weighs 50-60 lbs…
- Fifth, when you add 60 lbs to the backpack thingy, and then add that to 300+ lb. Farmer Clint…you now have 350-360 lbs. of Farmer Clint walking sideways on a HUGE MOUNTAIN…
- Sixth, did I tell you that my right ankle is fused? Well it is…that means it is more like a hockey stick than an ankle, it does not bend and has no flex…
- Seventh, when a FAT man with a fused ankle tries to walk sideways on wet grass on a BIG MOUNTAIN and his foot doesn’t bend he is very prone to FALL OVER…
- Eighth, when a FAT man – with a fused ankle – carrying 350lbs falls down the BIG MOUNTAIN, he doesn’t just fall, he ROLLS a long way…
- Ninth, it is very hard to get back up when a FAT man is lying on wet grass, on the side of a BIG MOUNTAIN, with 350-360 lbs. attached!
But get up I did! Over and over and over again, I fell my chubby cherubic self down that BIG MOUNTAIN, spilling fertilizer as I barrel rolled down the hillside…but I always arose and climbed back to my last position.
As the sun set behind the beautiful mountains of Mitchell County I heard the roar of a diesel approaching my Christmas tree patch…at last I was to be rescued…it was Doug on the KiotiJ tractor. That ever present smile on his handsome mug, he joined me alongside Blackie, hooked a BIG chain to it and pulled me to safety. Back at the barn, arm in arm, Doug asked, “Well, Pollard, how was your first day?” Not to be outdone by this Paul Bunyan of Harrell Hill, I replied, “It was great Doug. Can’t wait for tomorrow!”
Praise the Lord, for the very first time – BUT NOT THE LAST – I had cheated death on the Funny Farm!
Still humbled in the hills,