One and a half men

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

Life As I Know It

By Olivia Fowler

There are times when extra help is needed to complete a project on Fowler Farm. Usually Fowler can drum up assistance, but sometimes his go-to man isn’t available. That’s what happened last Saturday.

The cool spring and extra rainfall delayed planting this year until the latter part of May. So every daylight hour of the past two weeks has been dedicated to all the tasks necessary to produce a decent crop.

Meanwhile, things have been happening in the yard. Broken branches have fallen from trees, weeds have popped up and plants have needed transplanting or dividing.

For a couple of years we’ve talked about taking a large limb off one of the oak trees in the front yard. The limb in question is growing out over the top of the trellis in the walkway. It’s dropping leaves and acorns into the fountain and has the potential to destroy the trellis should a high wind bring it down. So we’ve talked about removing it, but that’s as far as it has gotten, until last Saturday when Fowler had caught up in his schedule enough to set aside time for the project.

One of the tractors is a 5610 Ford, 75 HP with a spear attachment and a bucket. It’s the most versatile and possibly the most useful tractor on the farm. Not only is it used for normal tractor activity (bush hogging and plowing), but is also in service to haul brush, move big round bales of hay and carry loads of firewood.

When trees need trimming or limb removal, one person can operate the hydraulic lift while the other person stands in the bucket and is transported up and down where needed.

Although I’ve often offered to operate the bucket, Fowler has never taken me up on the offer. I don’t know why this is, but he seems to prefer getting help from friends and relatives other than me.

It’s been more than 30 years since I pulled the front off the Super M when driving down the road on one tractor pulling the other behind as Fowler tried to crank it. That is another story.

Anyway, Fowler decided to show me how to operate the lift so he could cut the limb off the oak. I asked for some practice time before he got into the bucket with the chainsaw and went through a three-minute training session. He’d moved the tractor into position, then climbed down and got into the bucket with the chainsaw.

I slowly raised the bucket, leveling it as it went up to prevent Fowler from being dumped out. When it got to the necessary height, he motioned to me to stop, and I did. Then he cranked the chain saw and started cutting the limb off in sections. Finally, he was ready to go back down ,and I lowered the bucket pretty smoothly. He wasn’t dumped or thrown back against the metal bars.

He cut everything up that had fallen to the ground, loaded it all into the bucket and then let me drive the tractor down into the pasture to dump the load onto the brush pile. I did this with skill and finesse. At least I thought so and am now bragging about it.

I’m thinking of adding this new skill to my resume. Being able to operate heavy equipment will surely make me a more valuable employee. After all, it’s important in today’s job market to be versatile.