Aside

Give It Enough Snort

15 Feb

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

Give It Enough Snort

                It was one of those falls up here that was wetter than normal. We had gotten our corn silage chopped off and now we were going at our high-moisture corn. I always hired my neighbor, Howie, to come with his combine and two trucks to harvest my corn. While he combined, I would unload the corn into the roller mill that rolled the corn and then blew it up into the silo. Usually things would work pretty well and we could get it done in one to two days.

But, this fall was different, the fields were very wet. Howie parked his trucks on my field road and started to open the field up with the combine. That went fine. As he started to get more of the field off, he had me park the trucks in my field close to where he was combining so that it would be faster for him to unload the combine. I was hesitant to do it, but followed his instructions. He filled the truck way full of corn and the truck started to go down a little.

When I got back to the field with the other empty truck and saw the loaded truck sunk down about six inches already, I felt we were in for trouble. Howie said to me, “Give it plenty of gas, Tom.” Now a grain truck loaded full doesn’t go very fast in first gear even with the gas pedal to the floor. I went ahead about four feet and the truck died. The back end had sunk in a good two foot deep! It was not a nice looking sight.

We looked the situation over and Howie said, “If we try to pull that truck out loaded, we’ll just pull it apart. To which I readily agreed. We went and got Howie’s big four wheel drive Case tractor and two scoop shovels. Back in the field, we drove the other truck alongside the stuck one and then started shoveling corn from the one to the other. By the time we had it almost empty, we were about wore out too. Then we drove the good truck out of the field, and hooked on to the other one and pulled it out with the tractor, all in one piece.

After that, Howie had me park the trucks on higher, drier ground, even though it meant he had to drive a little further to unload his combine. It was late afternoon by the time we got that field done. Since we still had some daylight left, we decided to start my marsh cornfield.

We were being very careful where we parked the trucks for him to fill them; we had learned our lesson very well earlier in the day. Howie got the outside rows all off without any problem whatsoever. So I assumed this field would go just fine. But, there’s always the unexpected. On the other end of this cornfield, I had about two acres that was way too wet to plant in the spring. I had to leave it lay idle all summer long and it grew up in weeds.

When Howie got to the other end, instead of just turning the combine around on the headland, he made a big turnaround out in the weedy hunk, or I should say that he tried to. He got half turned around, and the one side of the combine went down to its axle. When I got up there, I was astonished at what I saw. It was not a pretty sight after a long day of hard work. Howie wasn’t too happy over it either. I asked him, “Why did you go out in that wet area?” To which he replied, “It didn’t look wet to me.”

Howie and I talked it over and we agreed that we would never pull the combine out with its hopper nearly full of grain. We also agreed that we didn’t dare drive an empty truck in there either, neither one of us wanted another stuck truck. So we went and got a tractor with an empty grain wagon and backed it in to the wet area just far enough so that we could unload the combine. After that, we were able to drive the tractor and wagon out of there.

Then we went and got Howie’s big tractor from the other side of my farm where we had left it after pulling the truck out earlier that day. We hooked it up to the combine, and I could tell Howie was real uneasy about it. He said, “If that other tire goes down, I don’t know how we’re going to get it out.” I had to agree with him; I was uneasy about it too.

As I headed to the tractor, Howie’s last words to me were, “Give it enough snort.” We both knew that we only had one chance to get it out with that tractor. I said a quick prayer. When Howie was in the combine and ready, I tightened up the chain and pushed the throttle almost wide open. I wasn’t going to fail by not giving it enough snort. The Lord blessed and the combine came out, for which we were both very thankful and relieved. With the sun almost down, we decided to call it a day.

Every year when we combine corn here, I always think back to that and to what Howie said, “Give it enough snort.” That’s how we need to live our lives, to the fullest, to the glory of God. So many people today live such empty, selfish, meaningless lives. But with God they don’t have to.

Howie passed on a short time ago, but he lived a full life. He was a loving husband, father and an excellent, hard working farmer. He was also a wonderful neighbor and friend to us. I could never have asked for a better one. I’m sure someday I’ll see Howie on the other side, and we’ll smile as we think back to that night down in my marsh when he told me to, “Give it enough snort.” I’m sure too, that there will be no stuck trucks or combines for us in heaven.

Aside

Christmas Brings Hope Even In Difficult Days

11 Mar

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

Christmas Brings Hope Even In Difficult Days

                Christmas is the most wonderful season of the year, a season full of love, hope, and giving. A season that blesses us all. Or at least it should be that way, but unfortunately it isn’t always. Sometimes it can be a very difficult season.

I had a very challenging Christmas back in 1992. Joanne was expecting, and this pregnancy was not going well for her. As a result, I was doing almost all the farm work here. On Dec. 13, early in the morning, Joanne went into labor and had to be flown by helicopter to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital where she delivered our son Joshua. He was born weighing only one pound ten ounces. The doctors gave him little chance of living, and they said if he did, he would probably have serious problems the rest of his life.

It didn’t look good at all, actually it looked very hopeless in the natural, but with God there is always hope. Joanne and I had been praying for months for Joshua already, so when this happened we just kept on praying. Don’t limit God: God can do anything. God loves to do the impossible for praying people.

With Joanne in the hospital with our new-born son, I was alone here on the farm. I talked to Joanne late every night on the phone. The question came up, “What do we do for Christmas this year?” After talking it over, we decided we would celebrate it as much as was possible like normal. We decided though that this year, I would have to get the Christmas tree from our big woods by myself.

Since I was going from early morning till way late at night just doing all the chores on the farm here, I came up with an idea to save me a lot of time in getting our Christmas tree. I was spreading manure from the barn every day on my cornfield down by the big woods. Earlier that fall, I had noticed a beautiful nine foot tall pine tree right on the edge of the woods there. So a couple days later, I took my hand saw with me, and once I had the manure spread I stopped and cut the tree down. I had my 560 Farmall tractor that does not have a cab on it, on the spreader. I got back onto the tractor and decided to drive with my left hand and hold my Christmas tree by the butt upright with my right hand. I guess I was quite a sight driving my tractor through the fields and then up the township road with my Christmas tree towering over me and the tractor! It was extremely difficult hanging onto that tree when I was going up the township road in road-gear. By the time I got home with my tree, I had decided that I would never bring another Christmas tree home that way ever again.

Next, I got the tree into the house and trimmed down to the right size, then I set it up in our living room. Then, I got to do something I had never done before in all my life: I got to decorate it. And I enjoyed it. By the time I got it done, it looked pretty nice.

There was something special about that Christmas tree all decorated and lit up in our living room. It was like it was full of hope and life because by it we were once again going to celebrate the birth of a baby boy born many years ago. That baby boy was Jesus, and His parents were going through some very difficult days too. Joseph couldn’t even get a room for his wife, Mary, to have her baby in. The best he could do for her was a stable with some livestock in it. Then a short while later, they had to leave in the middle of the night and flee to Egypt because King Herod was committed to killing their son. They had very difficult days, but I believe what the angel said to Mary really helped to see them through. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37. Joanne and I fully believed that the same God who saw them through would see us through also.

So that Christmas, Joanne, Catherine and I celebrated the birth of our Lord and Saviour around our special Christmas tree. And what a joy it was as we trusted Him to see us through our difficult days. Little did we know what lay just ahead in the next couple weeks.

In early January, Catherine started to cock her head side-ways a lot. So we took her in to see the doctor, and to make a long story short, we ended up taking her over to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital to have open-heart surgery. Without it they said she wouldn’t live much longer. So now Joshua and Catherine were both patients at that hospital, and Joanne was staying there with both of them. I was once again on the farm here by myself. But I really wasn’t by myself, I had Jesus, the one whose birthday we had just celebrated a couple weeks before.

And yes, Joanne and I kept walking in faith, hope and love believing God to see us through. He saw Mary and Joseph through, so why shouldn’t He see us through our difficult days too? And He did. Catherine came through her open-heart surgery well and has grown into a beautiful, young woman. And Joshua is a very strong, hard-working young man today. What can I say, “For with God nothing is impossible.”

God is still in the business of seeing people through difficult days and situations. He gives hope when in the natural things look bleak. I’ve found out that sometimes in the darkest days, His light shines the brightest. Because of Christmas we have an eternal hope no matter what dark days we go through here.