Most farmers will likely agree that no matter how hard a fell a tries to do the right thing, some days it just doesn't turn out exactly the way he plans.
For instance, there's my old friend Mike. He was raised on a dairy farm in the Ozark Mountains, and learned from an early age to be helpful whenever he could. Since chores are part of every farm child's life, Mike did everything from buck in' bales to milk in' the family's Holstein herd. One day, however, Mike's efforts to be helpful went awry.
He'd finished his chores for the day and decided to take a walk to one of the many ponds on the expansive farm and while away the hours before bedtime. As he crested the hill, he saw a sight that froze him in his tracks: a cow who'd just had a calf was stuck in the pond, and couldn't get herself out of the water.
Always a dutiful son who'd helped his mother carefully lift hobbled cows with the tractor several times before, Mike thought he knew just what to do.
With no one around to lend a hand, Mike ran straight to the barn and fired up the John Deere. A few minutes later, he arrived at the pond and discovered the downed cow had floundered even deeper into the pond's muddy waters. With no time to waste, Mike backed the tractor to the water's edge and hopped off to attach a strap to the cow's behind. That's when Mike's good deed took a turn for the worst.
Mike had driven the John Deere several times, but the urgency of the situation must've made him forget to engage the brake. The way Mike tells the tale, it all happened in a terrible flash: he began to wade into the water when the tractor suddenly rolled into the pond - on top of the cow!
To make matters worse, the tractor's engine was still running. When the intake hit the water level, the engine inhaled a death-breath of pond water. Mike could do nothing but stand and stare at the carnage before him. Instead of being a hero and saving the cow, Mike had killed both the tractor and the bovine.
Needless to say, Mike hid in the barn until well after dark. In the end, the tractor was rescued and repaired, but that old cow was gone for good. After his hide was good and tanned, Mike learned to think twice before being so 'helpful.'
Jason B. Harmon, Editor jharmon@ogden pubs.com