Baxter Black: Balin’ Wheat | TSLN.com

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Baxter Black: Balin’ Wheat

Glen said J.T. liked old pickups, too. But sometimes they had a mind of their own.

Early one summer morning J.T. loaded his good dog, Sam, and headed down to the wheat field. It had been cut and he planned on balin' some wheat straw as long as it still held the dew.

It was a fine western Kansas mornin'. J.T. made two passes around the wheat field before the sun burned off the moisture. He parked the 930 Case with the New Holland round baler and decided he could make it to Winona just in time for coffee shop communion. He leaped aboard his '79 Ford 4-wheel drive and cranked the engine. Unfortunately, it didn't crank back!

Starter problems, he knew. It had happened before. Something electrical that required a little short circuiting wizardry. He raised the hood. Sam lay under the tractor waiting in the shade for his command to "Load up!"

J.T. had no manual choke so he wedged a shotgun between the seat and the foot feed. Diggin' through his Snap On hi-tech tool kit, he fished out a fence stay and a pair of pliers. He shorted the faulty electrical connection. The starter kicked over and the engine caught. It was at that moment that J.T. realized that the ol' '79 was in gear!

It lunged into motion! He slammed the hood and dove out of the way! Out across the wheat field it chugged, pickin' up speed! Sam came out from under the Chase tryin' to jump in the back, but it was goin' too fast!

Down through the stubble it rumbled followed by man and dog in hot pursuit! The ol' pickup displayed an unerring sense of direction and seemed to navigate itself through the bogs, rock piles and round bales. On several occasions when it was slowed by a mud hole or a steep rise, it looked like Sam might catch up. But the pickup had lots of pasture experience and always managed to elude the pore ol' dog who thought he was bein' left behind!

Finally it nose dived into a washout, knocking the twelve gauge out of position and died of natural causes. J.T. followed the tracks and found it face down up against the bank. Sam was in the back where he belonged, but breathin' heavy.

J.T. eventually made it to the cafe around noon to tell the story. Everyone said it sure gave new meaning to the term "gunning the engine!"