It’s been a quite week in Grand River, Iowa, my home town. Work continues on that cabin south of town at the Two Mile Ranch. It’s been a bit of a conversation piece since that fella bought the ground a few years back. It was fall about a year ago he build a deck, a big deck, but didn’t build anything else. Some of the old timers got to talking about it one day over coffee, wondering if it was some kind of stage for music shows. But come spring,when he began putting the foundation for the cabin in, it was pretty clear he was building a place to live.
He works on it, off and on, and spent most of the summer and fall and winter building on it, a little at a time. Driving by you could watch the progress, a floor, then some side walls, a roof, and by Thanksgiving, it was wrapped up in that white building paper with the big words on the side, sort of like a Christmas present.
The delivery trucks drop off building materials and they sit there, on his deck, like they are ripening in the sun and just about the time he clears the boards and sheets off the deck, a truck comes within a week or so and puts more building materials out to dry. And then, almost like little buds on a plant, the windows, the windows began sprouting on the sides of the cabin.
But this week, he had a different delivery, one of the flat bed semi trucks from the big building supply stores in the big city paid a visit. You know the kind, a long truck that has a fork lift riding piggy back on the end, to make it easy to load lots of materials. The semi truck parked in the driveway and the man from the big city story lowered that fork lift to the ground and began scurrying new pieces for the cabin: a shower stall, a refrigerator, sheets of siding and lattice, and some other pieces. The delivery driver, carefully drove the forklift over the ground about a football field long and then gently placed the load on the deck. Back and forth he drove, carefully placing each new load in its place.
As he was finished, the owner Fritz Nordengren, a Scandinavian, shook his hand and drove off, and the deliver driver loaded his forklift and headed back to the big city. Or so he thought. As he pulled forward, the tires on that semi began to spin in the mud. As they did, the treads became filled wit mud and water and all hope of traction was lost. He called Fritz on the phone.
When Fritz returned to Two Mile, he found the truck and the driver, about halfway across the field, stuck. It was the only time he’d seen a truck get stuck on the property, although he knew visiting fishermen had occasionally pushed their luck to far and had been stuck before. SO first they tried to put some boards, some left of OSB sheets from the siding of the cabin, they put these scraps on the round to see if the truck could drive on them and gain some traction.
The truck driver gave the truck the smallest bit of power, and the wheels spun in the mud and the muck. This truck was stuck.
“What do you think it weighs?” Fritz asked the diver
“I figure about 50,000 pounds” he replied.
Fritz crossed the farm yard and headed to get his tractor. He stepped up into the cab of Ol’Red. Old Red was a 1965 Farmall 706. A tractor that was run by a simple gasoline engine that when it fired up, had the throaty sounds of a serious man’s machine. Fritz pulled the tractor around and backed it up to the trailer of the buried semi.
He climbed out of the cab and wrapping a towing strap around the draw bar of the tractor — a metal bar designed for towing implements, and then around a welded bar on the back of the trailer. He wrapped the strap twice, and then clipped the ends to a hitch pin.
He climbed into the tractor and fired up the motor. He shifted into low and then, he slowly let out the clutch. The big tractor tires dug into the ground and the tractor slowly moved forward as the slack disappeared from the to strap and the tug of war began. For a brief moment, everything stopped as man and machine concentrated on the path ahead and then, as if it surrendered it’s grasp, the earth let go of the semi and the whole group started to inch forward.
The tractor engine revved and sounded more confident and the tractor, trailer and truck began to make the 50 yard trip back across the field and onto the gravel covered driveway..
Slowly it inched across the mud ruts where grass once lay sleeping through the winter frost. Deep ruts, filled with water, where the truck had sunk into the soggy ground. At last, back on the level and drier gravel, the tractor stopped and Fritz crawled out and un connected the straps.
The driver drove the big tuck out the driveway and parked it on the paved highway…then ran back to fire up the forklift and drive it out to the waiting truck.
Fritz, got in his van, and headed out of the ranch, too, thinking to himself, Two Mile, where the tractors are strong, the women good looking, and the cabin is almost done.