Friday, May 30, 2008

What If Momemts

Dad and I used to work together a lot on the farm when I was a kid.

We'd be in the pasture back when I was a kid and he was even younger than I am now. We'd fenced the entire farm with perimeter and cross fences. We had 160 acres and today that seems so small but when you do the work yourself then those are a lot of fence posts to have dug by hand and a lot of barb wire to have stretched.

When we started we dug those holes by hand. It was much later when we got the tractor mounted fence post attachment. That thing almost killed Dad once. He was up in the middle of the pasture working by himself. I am uncertain why I was not there. My brother probably was still a bit young to be out there maybe. So I heard this later.

Mom and my brother looked out the west window and saw Dad walking across the pasture towards the house. So it must have been before we built the big house. Mom said she could tell something was wrong and finally she could see that Dad wasn't wearing any pants. I think they ran out to meet him but I don't remember.

He had been digging post holes with the new attachment. In one particular place the ground was hard apparently and he felt he needed some more weight on the post hole digger. So he left the tractor in idle and stood up and walked back along the top of the attachment to add his weight and try to help it along.

The attachment was driven by the power take off assembly of the tractor so there was a shaft that went horizontal out from the rear of tractor to the top of the digger. There was a universal joint there where the shaft connected by a shear pin.

Well that shear pin was kind of long and Dad's khaki pants had cuffs. And so when Dad stood in the right place and the shaft was turning and the shear pin caught on the cuff of his pant leg. The khaki was pretty good material and the cuff was pretty strong. So as the shaft turned the shear pin twisted the pant leg and suddenly Dad felt his leg being pressured downward.

He said he knew he was in a lot of trouble but he said he didn't really panic or anything. There wasn't really time for it anyway because suddenly he was prone along the shaft and his body would be turned with it.

Except there wasn't really room for his body to turn with the shaft. This all increased the load on the tractor. The pants tore which tells you there was pretty good pressure if you've ever tried to tear a piece of khaki cloth.

Dad said he could hear the tractor engine load up and he fully expected it to kick in with more power and then his leg would break and be twisted off his body. And he wasn't sure what else was going to happen. But all this happened so quickly he couldn't do anything about it anyway.

But the tractor engine died when it loaded up and the digger stopped turning and Dad was able to find his little pocket knife he always carried in his pocket. Then he cut his pants free.

That he walked back to the house shows how upset he was.

1 comment:

~Betsy said...

I can relate to hand digging fence posts!

I'm sure glad your dad was OK after his adventure. That could have been very serious. Isn't it something how these stories stay with us?