With the work week rapidly closing in I took to the back roads yesterday afternoon in search of a story. The weather was less than prepossessing. Somewhere in the vicinity of Oriole this 40s vintage GMC caught my eye. I stopped. As I made my way into the field for a closer look I could see someone approaching from a distant line of outbuildings. The reaction of landowners to someone on their property with a camera is something I worry about. In this case however the farmer was jovial and more than happy to tell me something of the history of my subject. He recalled that it used to have a flatbed and was used to haul feed, logs, and hay. It lost its transmission nearly forty years ago and needed to be towed home. Because vintage vehicles such as this cannot speak for themselves their owners will often do so on their behalf if encouraged. This one told me the GMC ran smooth and quiet, no matter what she hauled. There was one time however, he went on, when we were hauling logs over the mountain and she lost her pipe … boy she ran loud that night and I could see flames fresh off the manifold. Older farmers very much enjoy telling their stories and it seems they’ve always got one at the ready. Dale likes to tell of the time he was hauling feeder hogs in his pickup and one broke through the rack and rode with her front feet on the top of the cab … all the way up and over the mountain. Dave tells of the time he was catapulted clear across the bed of a hay wagon while adjusting the kicker on his baler (he was very lucky not to have been killed that day). I believe Dan embellishes just a bit when he tells about the time the bull got out and he stood eye-to-eye with it as he placed himself between it and the county road. Jon boasts about the time his girlfriend stacked more than 200 square bales on an open wagon … what a woman. And Bob delights in telling about the time he lost his wedding ring up a cow while doing a pregnancy check. Although the particular collection of farm stories that I am privy to is unique to the people I have come to know, similar sets are an important part of all farming communities here and across the globe. Like the tangled network of branches and roots which comprise the forest and bind it strongly, our stories are the spoken representation of the hard work, dedication to purpose, and sacrifice which bind our agricultural communities. Stories are part of the culture. They are collected and then disseminated. Stories are threads … the complex mesh which results when they are plied is the fabric we call community. [Thanks to my very good friend Sam for catching and correcting an initial error in stated vehicular vintage.]


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