A Glimpse into a Farmer’s Soul

There is nothing more intimate than climbing in another man’s work truck. It’s a glimpse into his soul. If only George W. Bush, instead of gazing into Putin’s eyes, would have gotten into Vladimir’s work truck, he would have known Putin was a dirty, no-good dictator, who couldn’t be trusted. As it is, we invaded Iraq instead of Russia, and consequently the current leader of the free world thinks injecting bleach is a good idea. Not that I haven’t thought the same once or twice, but that’s when I was really depressed because cattle prices plummeted, which, to be fair, occurred during the Obama administration. 

But enough politics, back to work trucks. I love a king cab, the filthier the better. It’s always revealing to see what’s left of the stimulants another man needed to stay awake and well-nourished on the farm: Mountain Dew bottles, crushed Red Bull cans, orange nab crumbs, honey bun wrappers. My truck is littered with M&M wrappers and Diet Coke bottles. My wife’s poppaw Lowry is eighty-four, and whenever he rides with me, he says I need to stop drinking that “dope.” Dope is what old timers here in the foothills call Coke. Unfortunately, many farmers have graduated to more hardcore substances. Sun Drop is a major problem now. Shelby, NC, is kidney stone capital of the world. 

But last year, I got into a farmer’s work truck and noticed something unusual. Instead of your normal farming essentials, like a tin of Skoal and a dip bottle, this farmer, James DeWalt, had a copy of Plato’s Republic sitting on the dash. I did a double take. “Why do you have Plato?” I asked.  

“To read,” he said, “the new combine has GPS-guided steering. You just gotta do the first round to set up the field boundary, and then the combine takes over and drives itself.”

“So you read Plato while combining?”

“Yeah, I’m trying to catch up on the classics now that I have all this leisure time riding around the field. I read Aristotle during corn harvest. ”

To be honest, I was really impressed. Who woulda thought Jim DeWalt was a man of such refined reading tastes? But that’s what a work truck can reveal. Personally, I always thought technology was making humans dumber. Take me, for example: I only know three phone numbers by heart–one is my own cell phone, one is the number to my childhood house (now inhabited by complete strangers), and one is 911. It’s sad that I don’t even know my wife’s number. She’s just speed dial number one. Thankfully, I don’t text much, so I can still write in complete sentences, but the calculator app has also destroyed  my ability to do longform division. 

working on combine

But if new technology can increase my reading time, I’m all for it because old technology has not. Several years ago, I spent $400 on on an old combine, an Allis Chalmers All Crop Harvester, but it breaks down every fourth round so I have little leisure time to enjoy anything while harvesting grain. But when I realized that for $400,000 I could have bought a combine that drove itself and allowed me to read the masters, I was smitten with envy. At least, I was until I read the following article in our local paper.

Come to find out, Jim fell asleep while reading Plato’s allegory of the cave and auto-steering malfunctioned. But despite making headlines, he had a good attitude about the mishap. He said if John Deere ever creates a combine that does laundry, he’ll be the first to buy.

10 thoughts on “A Glimpse into a Farmer’s Soul

  1. There’s a certain smell as well. I do utility line clearance tree work and as a ground man I changed trucks and foremen regularly. Danno’s truck smelled like bad feet and had more flies than I could count, Will’s truck smells like a rotting produce dumpster. Clayton had one (several) of those pine tree shaped “air fresheners “ 🤮
    Now that I’m a foreman and have my own bucket truck, I work to keep it as clean as possible and notice no smell at all, but then I can smell my own house either. And 10 years on an ambulance, going into thousands of homes, know for a fact that each one has a particular stank to it.

  2. Ha that’s awesome. We are seen as the local weirdos because we do not have a truck, and have found a way to get through almost everything with our Subaru. Will eventually order a trailer for it, but so far everything either fits inside or on top, or just gets delivered 😁

      1. yeah we never thought we’d be subaru people but when we realized we could transport 10′ 2×4’s inside with the hatch closed, i was sold 🙂

  3. Love the old truck reference. In the late 90’s I was an operations supervisor in West Texas. I received a call from our land people that the gentleman who leased about half the field we operated from the University of Texas, wanted to discuss clean up on old abandoned drilling locations. He was a multi millionaire many times over with sheep operations in 3 states.

    Surprise, surprise, he shows up at my field office in a late 70’s beatup brown Ford extended cab. He had on faded overalls, partially tucked into well used boots and a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek. He wanted to drive so off we went. I still remember the sweet tobacco scent of his spit can on the dash!

    He had a love for nature and the land! He was a true steward of land! You wouldn’t have guessed that he was wealthy. Loved the hours spent with him and some lessons learned on managing land. Loved his old truck too!

    1. We’ve got one of those types in our county too. He’s got more money than he knows what to do with–made it in rental properties–but drives usually drives a beat-up old Ford Ranger.

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