This week we had an accident on the farm. The worst we’ve ever had. Thankfully nobody was hurt and the damage to the equipment was minimal.
I once almost turned over a JD Gator because we had it overloaded with rocks and were going up a steep incline. It didn’t turn over, the bed released and the load dumped, dumping us unceremoniously back on the ground instead of going over backwards like we were about to. I forget what we were building but something that kids build on the farm in the summer. Probably a new pond, by hand.
One time I turned a three wheeler over because I wasn’t watching where I was going. We had green army men with parachutes and we were conducting parachute experiments. We had them tied to the rack of the three wheeler and I drove right off the road, right up an incline and it rolled over, as three wheelers are prone to do. You see I was watching the parachutes behind me, not the road in front of me. The parachute experiment failed. My buddy, who owns Buck Naked Farm now, was on the three wheeler at the time with me and got trapped under it when it rolled. I jumped free and then saved him from being pinned. We still talk about this one.
Once I got a Gator (actually an AMT 600, this was a long time ago) so covered in mud that it took us hours of washing (under the very stern and pissed off direction of my father) to get the thing usably clean again. We didn’t actually turn it over this time. Instead we were testing the new Gator against our old three wheeler. We wanted to see which would win in a tug of war. As the Gator kept winning, we decided to even the playing field by putting it in the mud to mitigate its extra traction. At the point I was standing on the seat in a sea of mud while the three wheeler was on dry ground, the three wheeler finally won.
All of these, combined, pale in what happened this week. Yarik was driving the tractor down our paved farm road, apparently in low gear, and simply ran off the road and into a ditch because he wasn’t paying attention. The tractor slipped down then rolled into the fence, barely missing Yarik in the process.
If you look closely at the picture, you can see we have the skid steer chained to the tractor, and the bucket truck in the background. On the bucket truck is a 30,000 pound recovery winch. It’s hooked to the back of the tractor. By pulling the farm tractor back onto it’s wheels with the skid steer and holding it there, I used the recovery winch to slowly walk it backwards and up out of the ditch.
Yarik had a scratch on his back. The tractor had one broken hydraulic line and a bent exhaust. The fence got a bit squished. Yarik managed to scramble back onto the tractor and turn it off before it ran out of oil on its side, saving the engine. All in all very, very minimal damage to what could have been terminal. I explained to Yarik how close he came to getting killed through inattention. I tried to be gentle, to understand the instances I told above. I thought I was pretty nice. Then Dustin pointed out this picture to me.
Here we are hooked up, chained up, shackles in place. I’m just waiting for Vicente to take some pictures since I’d jumped up and ran down to this scene when they came and got me. I’d left my phone laying right where it was so Vicente had to take the pictures.
The other side of the scene. Yarik is standing there wanting to help but the adults have shown up and we won’t let him. Unfortunately he got yelled at, by me, a few times because he kept stepping into dangerous areas during the recovery. Only enough to get him clear and safe but yelled at just the same. Even after the accident, I don’t think he understood just how dangerous all this was. At this point nobody knew just how bad the tractor was, or even if we’d be able to get it out of the ditch. I also wasn’t convinced he was ok. Adrenalin can mask injuries but I’d inspected him to make sure he was ok and he appeared to be so.
I’ve heard of resting bitch face, only because one of the ladies where I used to work joked about it. I don’t think I actually have it naturally. However, being a kid, scraping mud off of a Gator, under the physically palpable glare of a Staff Sergeant/business owner/father, I was shocked to see what my face looked like when Dustin pointed it out in this picture. I know that face. Impatient but patiently waiting, pissed off, worried sick, planning the next 10 things to do, angry and sad all at the same time. I’ve been on the wrong end of that face more times than I care to think about. What I didn’t realize until now was that I had that face. I hope I can make it another 40 years without having to use it again for something like this.