From my journal: January 11, 2010
There must be a thousand frozen cow patties on the ground. It has been unusually cold and because of the snow we’ve been feeding a lot of hay to the cows. Since they spend a lot of time where the hay is, it creates a dense pattern of dung on the already frozen snow. The cow patties freeze and become hard as rocks – rocks as big as footballs.
This past year the passenger door of the Hydrabed truck broke and a neighboring farmer happened to have a spare door that fit perfectly. Farmers are very resourceful and never throw anything away. I can hear my neighbor now, “We better save that door, we might need it someday”. It’s nice having a door that closes without a lot of persuasion. I’m known on the farm as “gate boy” which means I ride “shot gun” and open all the gates. I get in and out of the truck a lot. The broken door was a source of consternation for years. The only odd thing about the new door is that it’s jet black. The rest of the truck is white.
Jeanne, five foot four inches, can barely touch the pedals of this all wheel drive, six wheelin’ hydraulic monster and much to my amazement she can feed the cows with this truck in the frozen snow. Most farmers in these snowy conditions would use a tractor. But not Jeanne, she is going to use a truck. To do this she has to drive fast, really fast. That’s because she doesn’t want to get stuck. Complicating matters is the multitude of frozen cow pies which are so prevalent that one cannot possibly drive in a course which avoids them. So here lies Jeanne’s dilemma: To drive fast enough on top of the frozen snow to avoid getting stuck yet slow enough to not cause damage to the truck or its passengers by the prevalence of unavoidable frozen cow paddies. Since the frozen obstacles cannot be avoided and the cows must be fed, damage to the truck and its passengers ensues. For me the single black door on this white truck will forever symbolize this dilemma.
Jeanne’s hard driving spirit is well suited to the task as we haul ass over the frozen field. Here we are in this big farm truck with hydraulic arms; Jeanne is in her soiled farm clothes. It’s all so rough and tough yet this woman is so feminine. She has leather work gloves on and pearl ear rings. I look down at her right foot stretching for all its worth to reach the accelerator and notice the only thing touching the pedal is the very tip of her boot yet we travel at an ungodly speed bumping violently over the rocks of dung. How can the end of such a small foot result in such speed?
Exacerbating my anxiety is the fact there is nothing to hold onto in this speeding massive feeding truck. Dexter, our faithful Border Collie and I bounce uncontrollably and violently as we race to Jeanne’s desired feeding location. I have seen Dexter’s entire body in mid air…