Life and Limb: A True Story From an American Farm
A Farm Nostalgia Story
Americans are often nostalgic about ways of life from bygone eras including stories from early family farm life. Few modern people have much experience with farming as a way of life and its many difficulties.
My Dad did grow up on a family farm and has wonderful stories to tell about it. So, here is another one:
My Uncle Don continued to run the family farm with his mother, my Grandma, after Grandpa died and my Dad left farming for a more modern occupation. Uncle Don was a bachelor with no children to help out on the farm and only occasionally hired workers for particular tasks like bringing in the harvest.
Thus, he and my Grandma effectively ran a small farm as the business which provided their livelihood through good times and bad. This was no easy task and farming has always been known as a fairly dangerous occupation. Today I am about to highlight just how dangerous because Uncle Don came within inches of losing his arm entirely or at least having it mutilated beyond use!
After World War II, the farm became increasingly mechanized with tractors and other implements which improved crop yield and saved labor. My uncle owned two tractors, a small less powerful one from pre-WWII days and a larger extremely powerful one. These work implements were becoming fairly required to maintain production, but accidents involving them can be hazardous indeed, so please read on!
What started out as an ordinary day soon turned extraordinary. Uncle Don was to load corn into a storage bin (I think they call this a grain elevator) for use later to feed the cows during wintertime. The day was brisk and cold as wintertime was bearing down.
Anyway, he happened to choose the smaller, older tractor for the job at hand. He hooked it up to some kind of grain elevator device with a conveyor belt and gearing to be driven by the tractor. As he hooked up this ensemble of equipment, he was wearing the bulky, restraining type of clothing required for such a cold day.
He fired up the tractor and all went well for a few seconds or so and then the equipment jammed. In trying to clear the jam, he got the sleeve of his coat caught in one of the belts on the elevator. His arm was being pulled right into the gearing run by the little tractor!
A few seconds went by where he envisioned losing his entire arm or having it mangled horribly! Then, lo and behold, the tractor sputtered and the engine died! Shaking, he pulled out his pocket knife and cut the sleeve of his coat away to get his arm free. He then immediately disabled the engine so it would not start again. But his aching arm!!!
As you can imagine, Uncle Don was quite shaken up and had to take a break from work to assess his arm injury. He recalled thinking that Grandma would be mad at him if an expensive doctor's visit was required, as he went to the farmhouse.
Grandma was not mad, but was worried and flustered out of concern for his well-being. She performed some rudimentary first aid on the arm which had been severely wrenched, bruised, cut and aching (and ached for weeks afterward!). But the arm was not broken or the joints dislocated, so no doctor visit was required.
It dawned on Uncle Don that if either he had used the bigger, more reliable and powerful tractor, or if it had not been so cold as to cause the engine of the little tractor to sputter and die, his arm would be history. These two coincidental variables (and quite possibly some help from above!) saved Uncle Don’s arm.
Well, dear reader, incidents involving loss of limb are fairly common among farmers, but this time my Uncle Don escaped such injury. He did live to a ripe old age and thereafter was far more careful when using the dangerous machinery required for running a farm.
Other Farm Nostalgia
I have been so pleased about the responses made from readers of my "Farm Series" of hubs. It appears there is much nostalgia and many others love hearing about trials and other goings-on from early farm life.
The first hub I wrote involved the loss of a limb by one of the family dogs, A Pet Rescue Story: Brownie, the Three Legged Dog.
My second was Rabies Scare: A True Story From an American Farm.
The third hub was about a near-accident my Uncle Don had, Life and Limb: A True Story From an American Farm.
My fourth was the Hubnugget winning The Story of a One-Room Schoolhouse.
A fifth one is Farm Life During the Prohibition.
The response of readers to these stories touched me personally and readers have continued to ask for more stories! So now I regularly call Dad so he can continue relating these stories and I will continue to publish them as he does. Thanks for reading! -- Laura in Denver