Don’t Use Your Truck as a Dozer

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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I’m not sure what happened to the end of 2015. It just sorta disappeared. I never got my Christmas tree up. The Hooligans Christmas card went out the week of Christmas and some after Christmas. Usually I’m finished my Christmas shopping several weeks before, but this year I was shopping up to a day or so before the holiday. I haven’t gotten anything for the Hooligans yet except equipment to repair the underground fence. Karen at NW AL Herding Dog Rescue took care of them sending them some pumpkin biscuits. She runs the rescue that the Hooligans were adopted through.

The week of Christmas brought warm weather and rain, lots of rain. We experienced a lot of flooding with the Tennessee River and Spring Creek overflowed their banks. The high water, made for a nice night time shot of the old railroad bridge. The spillways at Wilson Dam were open for several weeks. Mom and I had planned to go out of town, but we could sit inside our houses just as easily as sitting inside a resort.

In my defense, it’s kinda hard to get in the Christmas mood when you are having record high temperatures in the 70’s to low 80’s. After the freeze in October, trees were fooled into thinking it was spring. My star magnolias were in full bloom on Christmas day. Several of my friends had quince blooming. A lot of time was spent trying to find a break in the underground fence. The Hooligans certainly weren’t going to tell me that it wasn’t working. The only place the wire was above ground was down along the dry creek and by now it was under an inch of composted leaves. I took a potato hook and pulled it perpendicular to the creek every couple of yards checking it for wear and tear. When I got next to a tree broken off half way, the wire came out freely. One of the broken off limbs had fallen smack dab where two wires were spliced together. It was getting dark by now and I rushed to the house to get enough wire to circle around the tree to the other missing end until I can remove the tree I heard an owl. I’ve been trying to get a photograph of an owl and stopped and caught myself looking for it. I had to remind myself I didn’t have enough day light and left the owl hunt for another day. The fence was working fine much to the displeasure of the Hooligans, especially my problem child Patches.

A week later the fence wasn’t working again. This time it took a couple of weeks to find it after ordering a break detector from the company. A section along the fence at the bottom has a break in it some where. I’m not sure if I scalped the area with my mower or if it was damaged by an auger when the fence was replaced. I bypassed half of the lower forty just as winter finally arrived. Until spring when a new wire can be buried, the Hooligans will have to manage roaming on an acre instead of three.

With the cold, the mice moved into the back barn. Blackie was so busy chasing them, she wouldn’t come eat. I placed one of those sticky traps on my grinding rock bench where they were leaving their calling card. I placed a piece of dog food in the middle and caught four. I put a new card out along with another piece of food in the middle. After a couple of days, I had two more mice. The third day the trap was missing off of the bench and was at the other end of the garage next to the doggie door. My guess is that Blackie spied the mice and also got a nose full of sticky stuff. I haven’t been able to get her to hold still to see if she is missing any hair.

In one of my last posts I wished my neighbor James Sizemore a happy 100th birthday. He passed a couple of weeks ago as the older folks say. He and my Dad were part of that generation that worked long hours and worked hard. As products of the Great Depression, they could get a lot of mileage out of equipment. They could work harder and outlast someone fifty years younger. In his late nineties, he had gallbladder surgery about the same time as one of my co-workers. Peggy went by the day after surgery to take him supper and couldn’t find him in the house. She went outside and there he was working in the garden. My co-worker came back to work a week after surgery and was complaining how it still hurts. When I told him about my neighbor, he said, “No way.” Yes way, I said.

When he was 99, he became very ill and his daughter said they were considering calling in hospice. A month later I drove by the farm to get pictures of combines harvesting corn, and there he was on his tractor bush hogging the berm between two fields. I’m not sure how many times I’ve called Peggy over the years to say your Dad is going to kill himself. I especially was concerned the time he had his tricycle Farmall in a ditch up against a telephone pole with one back wheel in the ditch and the other back wheel on the rim above the ditch. Those old tractors were so easy to flip over.

One afternoon about five years ago, I was working out in the yard. It was a nice, peaceful and quiet day. Soon that peacefulness was interrupted by a very loud explosion and a thick cloud of black smoke bellowing up into the sky in the direction of Mr. Sizemore’s house. I got on my John Deere and headed down the road until I could see his house. Everything looked okay, no fire trucks there, so I turned around for home.

After I talked to Peggy, I found out what happened. Her Dad was burning a pile of brush and stumps. He was using his pickup as a dozer pushing the stumps into the burning pile. One of his shoves he was a little too aggressive and landed up going up on top of the stump and couldn’t get his truck back off. When he realized that he wasn’t going to get off of the pile and bailed out of his truck and ran. Shortly afterwards the gas tank exploded. A couple of years back, he allowed me to come and get pictures of his barn. While there I found another old truck, and a plow, disc and bush hog he bought from my Dad.

Moral of the story, don’t use your truck as a dozer.

I made a trip over to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge over the weekend. The temperatures were in the high sixties. While there I was able to get pictures of some of the thousands of sandhill cranes and five whooping cranes over wintering on the refuge.

When I got home, a pair of bluebirds was checking out the box by the driveway. Winter will be back this week, so they don’t need to rush.

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