Thursday, March 01, 2018


I’m only five years old. I think that might be 35 years old, maybe more like 50 in people years considering the amount of hard work I’m required to do. It is hard work, sure, but I enjoy it. Sitting idly quiet makes it harder to get moving. I get creaky and living things begin to set up house beneath my protective body. It’s better to be useful, get moving, make a respectable presence.

We live on a ten acre ranch which, given my small frame, feels more like 1000 acres. I was chosen specifically because of my narrow frame but mighty strength. I’m in charge of keeping all the low lying vegetation from becoming impassable freakazoid monsters. Occasionally, I find myself feeling sorry for the rose bushes and other wildness, but I keep my feelings to myself and do as I’m told - chop it down!

Yesterday morning, I woke with a roar as the key turned and the clutch pressed and the throttle given a little back and forth action. It was time to take care of business. It’s spring in Texas and that means things are growing and I must keep that growth under control.

It felt great to back out of my parking space of four months. Oh! What’s this? I get new blades. I only get new blades every couple of years, when the space between my blades becomes an entire path of tall grass left behind between my tires. It’s a task that takes driving up a couple of ramps and sitting patiently as the correct socket wrench is located and the proper pressure applied in the correct direction. This could take mere seconds if only someone had made notes the last time, but we like a challenge around here. Soon enough, the new blades were ready and I rolled back down the ramps ready for action.

I left the inner acre where the cabins are and took a route right against the fence toward an area that has been neglected for years. About six months ago, the power company came here to cut trees back away from the lines. They chopped the living devil out of our beautiful friends. While they removed most of the brush and scraps, they left a good deal of smaller branches which are problematic for a tractor of my small stature. Therefore this area had been neglected. Removing these branches was part of the winter property clean up. Now, I ran my new blades over this area and the grass nearly smiled as the old was brushed away making the green beneath shine.

I was feeling great. Four passes completed this previously neglected area. As I turned to begin my work of the larger pasture area, I stopped. I didn’t mean to stop. Uh oh.

In February, the month otherwise known as “Texas Springtime,” we get rain. Our soil around here is a foot of sand over clay. Clay is a funny substance. It can be hard as bricks when it’s dry, but when it’s wet, it is slick as snot. It also drains slowly. The sand can stay soaked on top of slick-as-snot clay for days if there’s a good day or two of rain in a row.

There are places where the water and over saturation are obvious. There are also places where the grass grows green and the texture or saturation of the ground can’t be immediately seen. This is sort of the equivalent of black ice. You don’t know until you are in a turn and you slide out of control in the case of ice, or get desperately stuck in the case of this mud.

The first time this sort of quick-sand over snot-clay phenomenon occurred on this property, some friends in their truck and fifth-wheel trailer came to visit. They got stuck once. And they got stuck twice. The second time, all the humans scrambled with all their might and brain cells to find a solution. They did everything. They attempted to jack up the vehicle only to watch the jack descend into the mud rather than lift the truck. They shoveled away mud and added rocks only to watch the truck descend further into the mud as the rocks were swallowed down and lost forever. They tried a bit of cursing. They also tried a bit of praying. Neither vengeful wrath nor holy patience seemed to do much good.

Finally, having left the scene for five days, a tow truck man was called. “Oh, sure, we can come out. It’ll be $500. If you need to use a credit card, that will be 3% extra.” I am only a small tractor. In these parts, most folks have large diesel type tractors that they use for just these sorts of predicaments. The tractor down the road had already been on one such mission, but he too had gotten stuck in the quick-sand snot-clay. The decision was made to cough up the money and have the pros come on board.

Within thirty minutes, the whole ordeal was over. Well, over as long as they didn’t get stuck again! I know it was difficult to hand over the credit card, but the pros did in thirty minutes what the average Joe’s couldn’t do in four days.

So, here I sit. I watched as the sun descended upon my orange shiny body. I’ve never been out all night exposed to the elements as sounds of wild animals wander around searching for their dinner. I watched as the sun rose this morning. I wonder if I’ve been forgotten or if a rescue mission might be planned for today. The earth is still pudding, but it’s supposed to be sunny and warm for the next two days.

I know two things. First, when I get out of this situation, we will walk the swamp end of the property before approaching it. Second, With two more days of sunshine, the vegetation is going to need more of a reprimand than it did yesterday. I’ve got my work cut out for me!

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