Growing up in the country with dairy farmers for neighbors, it seemed like at least once a summer our large rain-soaked lawn would suddenly be full of cows that had somehow got out of their pasture! After helping to get them back where they came from, it was my job to “clean-up” the evidence left behind and then prepare to fill the hundreds of “hoofprints” left by the herd of cows on that soggy lawn and some of those hoofprints were several inches deep! My father had tried getting a load of topsoil delivered, but it resembled gravel more than soil…..But I had discovered that up in the woods behind our house there was good topsoil all over the floor of the forest-you just had to scrape off the leaves and dig it up.
We had a small tractor and two-wheel trailer but no digging equipment, so that meant a shovel and rake were my tools. I had previously made several trails in that woods and my father also knew where the trails were. When I was ready to dig and haul topsoil down for the first time, he warned me about something. He said: “When you have weight in that trailer, don’t take the steep trail down, go to the far side of the woods and come down the gradual slope. The weight in that trailer will push you down the steep grade and you will start going really fast and could even jackknife.” I said ok…..but I was thinking, I made those trails, I know how to handle that tractor on ALL of those trails…..So…..I went to work getting my first load of topsoil.
I found several places where it was fairly easy to scrape 3″-4″ of nice topsoil off the surface without digging into roots from trees or bushes. It didn’t take long until I had a nice full load on that trailer, (maybe a little too full I would soon learn!) I was really close to the steep trail that my father had warned me not to take if I had a heavy load behind me. But remember, I made those trails and had been up AND down them hundreds of times. So, I thought: If the tractor feels like it’s struggling with the weight, I’ll go the long way down, but if it feels normal then I will just continue down the steep hill. I took off and stopped several times and it didn’t even feel like I was pulling any weight! I’ll be just fine…..I THOUGHT! Everything was normal as I started down the steep hill when all of a sudden, the rear tires of the tractor are no longer making any traction and are “skidding” as the weight of the trailer pushed me faster and faster! All I could do is steer straight between the trees on each side as I kept gaining speed on that skidding tractor! I knew that at the bottom of the hill where it leveled off, I would have to go right or left, but at the speed I was going I would have to go STRAIGHT where there was no trail and go between pine trees that hadn’t been trimmed yet. It only took about 30′ of being on the level and off the trail for that wild ride to end and for me to learn a lesson that I will never forget! My father had warned me that weight in a trailer will “push” me down the steep hill, but I thought since I knew the trails and tractor so well, I thought it wouldn’t apply to me. Perhaps that knowledge of the trail and tractor helped me once the tractor started skidding down the hill, but it didn’t change one of the laws of nature. However, I now had a full understanding of what my father meant, and I Never tried that again!
I was fortunate that day to be able to learn a lesson without getting hurt or damaging equipment. There have been many farmers over the years in similar situations hauling loads down hills who were not so fortunate. Just weeks before I moved away from the hills of New York, I was working in the store and one of the local men named Bill came in. He was working part-time for a farmer who was also named Bill and they were chopping corn for silage-a very common chore for just about all the dairy farmers in the area. When Bill came in, you could see he was upset about something just by looking at him. He then proceeded to talk about driving a tractor down a hill with a load of silage behind. His eyes got “wild” as he described the tires skidding and the tractor going faster and faster! He said: “I thought for sure I would jackknife, and I’d be killed, I kept yelling Lord Help Me, Lord Help Me!” Then he said he made it to the bottom and got off the tractor and left the tractor and wagon there and told Bill I quit, my tractor driving days are over!
In the book of Matthew Jesus refers to a woman as having great faith Matthew 15:25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord Help Me!” She said.
I believe God helped me AND protected me that day as I took that wild ride down that hill. And if anyone reading this didn’t know that pulling weight behind you will PUSH YOU DOWN A HILL…..I hope you will at least remember that simple law of nature!
Till Next Time…..