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Farming with a learning curve

Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012, at 10:26 AM

When my husband and I married many years ago, my farm veteran mother-in-law told me (her new intern) I had a lot to learn.

I soon learned how much.

Within just a few years, I learned to garden, till, drive a tractor, disk, field cultivate, drive a stick-shift, drive a semi-truck, feed cows and fill a tractor's fuel tank.

Being from the city, I didn't know anything about any of it, except filling a gas tank. After all, I was a modern woman. I believed in self-service stations.

One spring long before we had children, I spent all day helping Hubby fill the bean planter and together we were working on finishing spring planting. I really was a partner in this, I thought, patting my city-fied back over all I had learned in my short time in farm land.

The tractor was running low on fuel and with only a little bit of daylight left and rain in the forecast, my farmer husband gave me instructions.

"You go over with the pickup and get the fuel tank plugged in. I'll cut through the field, and we'll fill up real quickly," he said.

I rushed over, feeling like a real farm wife. You know, the kind I'd read about in farm magazines.

When my husband pulled up, I was ready. I jumped on top of the tractor, unscrewed the gas cap and started pouring diesel in.

I was so proud. I remembered how Hubby had used the gas cap to prop the trigger so the diesel poured in as fast as possible. I did the same thing.

My husband took advantage of the time to fill the planter, and I decided to help.

After several minutes he said, "Honey, have you checked..."

It was too late.

Diesel was spewing from the top of the tractor at full force, and I climbed up as fast as I could to unprop the cap. Pulling out the hose, I sprayed the tractor, myself and my very unhappy husband.

"I thought it shut off automatically when it was full, like at the gas station," I sputtered after getting the flow stopped.

My husband's amazement turned to laughter and then to tears. Or maybe it was tears to laughter, I'm really not sure. 
I was sure about one thing. Life on the farm, was definitely different than life in the city. Even for a modern women.

My mother-in-law was right. I did have a lot to learn.

And even now, I still do.

Editor's note: A book of favorite Semi View columns from 2008-2011 is for sale through Sept. 28. Copies can be pre-ordered at The Marshall Democrat-News office, 121 N. Lafayette, Marshall, Mo., 65340.

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