Daredevil Farming

I was twenty feet in the air, arms and legs flailing, catapulted backwards by the heavy machine.  When I hit the ground, landing flat on my back, I couldn’t breath.  Above me, the apple trees were in bloom, pale pink and white blossoms, with a royal sky unfettered beyond.  My mother ran to my side, screaming.  I gasped for air, but I couldn’t make my lungs work.  Barely a farmer, I was about to die. In agony, I finally drew a ragged, crackling breath, then another.  I lay still for quite some time, remembering how to breathe again. We had inherited my grandfather’s orchard a year before, and were learning how to be apple farmers.  My grandfather used all sorts of equipment in his operation: tractors, sprayers, forklifts, mowers.  Each piece of machinery required an education unto itself.  I was fifteen, and though I was learning how these things worked, what I enjoyed most was simply riding around on tractors.   I wish I had studied more.  This tractor was hooked to a large boom sprayer.  I didn’t know that this sprayer required two rear safety props before it was detached, buttressing the weight of the heavy spray tank.  Instead of locking the props, I straddled the draw bar, and pulled the pin.  Gravity kicked in.  I held on for the ride of a lifetime. Straddling that bar probably saved my life.  I locked my arms, and as th

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