The Rest of the Story
By Doug Harrell
As I reread this story of old, I literally had to wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes and off my cheeks. Remembering the day brought back such thoughts of fun, hard work and memories of times gone by. Of friendships that endured for years, of laughter ringing through the valleys of Harrell Hill with friends that are no longer here. Clint was, and will always be, one of a kind. His warmth and friendship with many of us will never be forgotten and his ability to point and make fun of himself on paper is a talent like no other. He was the same in person. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did in rereading and reliving it.
Funny Farm (from January 2010)
By Clint Pollard
Many of you have written, emailed or called about this column. It seems that you find delight in my many foibles, misadventures and near –misses with danger. Also, some have questioned my veracity – that would be TRUTH telling – regarding these tales. A couple things you should know: the Lord undoubtedly protects me from myself and the myriad monsters and events that seek to snuff me out; and these stories are absolutely true (not to say I don’t exaggerate a teeny tiny bitJ) Now get a load of this:
Over the River and Through the Woods, With Hose in Hand I Go!
Unlike the last several years, 2010 was a challenging one for Western North Carolina farmers. We were in the throes of a severe drought which crippled many family farms; the once fruitful soil sizzled and baked under the scorching summer sun.
It was another warm and DRY day at Harrell Hill Farms and I was asking God to open the heavens and pour moisture on our parched farmland. Hay ain’t growin’, ‘maters are wilting, ‘tater patch looks like a forest fire aftermath…the soil is groaning for water. The babbling creeks and free flowing streams had slowed to a mere trickle.
This day my friend Farmer Doug Harrell had drug me all over the mountainous terrain, spraying some kind of dastardly weed killer on the fence line. As you might expect, Doug learned not to trust me on the tractor in the presence of other human beings, so he drives. Close your eyes and picture the powerful Kioti tractor dragging me and 10,000 feet of yellow hose in its wake. I am trudging through the valley, pulling 5 miles of hose pipe; spraying this modern day nuclear waste on a gazillion miles of pig weed. (By the way, one day I will ask the Lord how come He made pig weed…it’s ugly; it chokes edible plants, and has thorns the size of horseshoe nails…that just ain’t right!) Anyway, I’m cautiously running behind the tractor trying to avoid falling into a groundhog cavern. For I know there is an underground monster wanting to drag me to the center of the earth’s core and devour my flesh!
Well, God spared my life and empowered me to expertly dump that load of herbicide which, over time, would free the electric fencing from the choking weeds. Another chore-box “checked,” it’s now time to repair the watering holes for the cows.
As the Cow Panteth for the Water…
I guess they are called watering holes, although they are more like watering tanks…they really aren’t tanks either, they are really cement donuts. Whatever! They devices rise out of the earth and fill with water from who knows where. I mean there is no water on the gardens, no water in the creeks, and here I am looking at a round concrete hicky-doo full of life saving water…go figure. Man, so much to learn on this farm!
Anyway, A.D. Harrell – “Daddy D” to his family – told Doug we needed to unstop these fountains, geysers, watering holes…whatever in the heck they are. Seems mud and debris were hindering the flow. So off we go to do whatever a farmer does to unstop a cow’s drinking fountain.
Pride Comes Before Electrocution!
Well, there’s an electric fence around the pastures to keep the bovine in and others out. Weeks ago, I was shown where to connect and disconnect the power for safe entry. If you care, the power comes out of a little out-building, sort of an ancient haunted shed type structure beside Daddy D’s house. My first foray to the shed I fully expected a two-headed snake, a gigantic spider or at least a swarm of bees to assault my personage. And, so as not to disappoint, I ran face-first into GIANT spider webs appearing like a Johns-Manville fiberglass factory. Thankfully not a single behemoth approached me, and Doug told me always to remember to disconnect the power before touching the wire. Duh! What kind of moron does he think I am?
As we neared the cow watering spigot I thought I saw Doug take the wire in his hands to steady his vault over the fence. You need to know that Doug and Daddy D are my heroes, in many regards, but I especially long to be a farmer like them. And, Doug and I have long had a competitive “thing” between us, whether playing golf, picking beans or eating cake. One always hopes to outperform the other. Back to the fence…
Following in Doug’s footsteps, I grabbed hold of that barbed wire, with both hands, preparing to carefully lift my right leg over. BAM…BANG…%$#@!…lightening raced through my fingertips, tingled through my wrists – continued up my arms, neck and head, spilling down into my back and belly, exiting through my feet. Heck I don’t know – it’s not a constant shock, it’s a SLOW electrocution technique. I felt like an electric eel, did the hokey pokey, wriggling and dancing to the rhythm of pulsing electricity. Nearby, Doug had “that look”, as if he was suspended in time and space, unsure he was seeing what he was seeing.
Meanwhile, I’m clinging to this fence for dear life – smoke emanating from inside my wet gloves (Okay, not exactly pouring out but so it seemed). Yet I thought, “If Doug Harrell can hold this wire I CAN TOO. I will not give up.” And I did…and I did…and I did. My hair standing on end…each appendage covered in goose bumps as body hair rose to the heavens…smoke coming from my ears…I was convulsing to the beat of intermittent electricity. I wore a hunted look, a sickly grin as I was not about to fail what I thought was another test of my farmer mettle.
Before long, Doug finally approached and said, “Uh, what are you doing?” At that moment I lost my will to continue this insanity…I don’t care if Doug had held this fence for longer than I…time to surrender. Periodic bursts of electricity passing through Farmer Clint’s body cannot add to life expectancy…I would simply lose this challenge!
Pouncing over with both legs, I released the wicked barbed wire at last. I gazed at Doug with newfound admiration and inquired, “How did you do that? I mean, didn’t it hurt you?” Confused he asked, “How did I do what?” Perplexed and annoyed I continued, “Hold onto that wire so long…it’s HOT!”
As I’ve come to expect, Doug just smiled at me – that kind of smile that implies, “Oh goodness where did I find this guy” – and said, “Clint, the fence is hot. I went under the wire, not over it.”
I burst into laughter, the kind that shakes your belly and innards…still smoldering from the prehistoric torture fence. Still somewhat dazed, I asked Doug, “Why did you let me do that – I could have been killed?” With that twinkle in his eyes and wonder in his mind he replied, “Well, I don’t know about that. It’s not likely you would be killed. But I’ve learned that when you mess up it’s with gusto…and by the time I catch what you’re doing it’s too late to save you.” I grunted, and we moved on to help Daddy D unplug the cow fountain.
A Final Challenge to Farmer Doug!
Tapping on Doug’s shoulder, I pronounced with utmost confidence, “Bet you can’t hold a hot fence as long as me.” Incredulous, he said, “Yeah, you win that one, Pollard,” as he walked away chuckling and shaking his head.
I thought about my misplaced pride and how trying to outdo another, much less a friend, is not what God wants from me. Improper display of pride is shocking – get it, shocking! (That’s funny I don’t care who ya are!)
Regardless of my incompetence as Farmer Clint, I know that the Lord stood there with me – although He likely kept His distance while I held that hot wire.
Once again, miraculously, God proved that He is God and allowed me to “cheat death” on the funny farm.