One evening recently I helped a friend by planting soybeans with an eight-row, split-row Kinze planter. When I finished the machine I was in, I was to move to his farthest and last farm to plant, some 10 miles away. I knew the area, more or less. It's 'more or less' that can get you into trouble.
"Go back here, turn left, go past a road, turn right a the next road, cross the highway, go down the next highway to a T-road, trun left on it, wind around for five miles and you'll be a the next farm," my friend said.
The tractor engine was making noise, I was already tired and it was hot, and I thought I knew about what he meant. So I said, sure, I can do that. So he left to plant corn.
After I finished the field I was in when he visited me, I folded the planter for road position. I love that feature, but there's just one little problem,. If you know the planter at all, it has a slender but very stout steel bar that stands in the middle of nowhere on the tongue so that when you swing the planter around, the planter frame locks into it. Unfortunately, my head has found it about six times in two seasons. I know I'm clumsy, but it looks like some smart engineer could figure out how to link that piece to a cylinder, so it folded down out of the way while in the field, then popped back up to move the planter. My head would appreciate it, although Tylenol sales might go down.
Anyway, I hit the sucker pretty good, always with my head, while preparing to move. So the rest of this story I would like to blame on the blue bar, although its probably a stretch.
The journey started fine. I made the first turn, went by the country school, through one of those blink or miss it towns. Then it got fuzzy. Did he say turn at the first road I came to, or the next? He said something about a Tee-road. There was a tee road coming up, so I turned right.
That's when I saw the sign- 9 foot clearance ahead! Are you kidding me? Nine foot isn't very much. I looked at the tractor's exhaust pipe, looked at the planter raised and folded behind me- man, I think I'm over nine feet. Maybe that's just to warn people and its really twelve feet or so. Soon I was near the overpass. It's an ancient railroad bridge someone forgot to replace 60 years ago. And nine feet might be a stretch- it looked more like eight feet. There was no way- I must be on the wrong road.
Fortunately, there was a lane that I could back into and turn around. I certainly wasn't getting somebody else's tractor stuck under a concrete bridge. My headache was already bad enough.
Back on the main road, sure enough, a half-mile up there was another road. This one turned out to be the right one.
I finished the trip without further incident, and by the time I got there, my head quit hurting. But later when I told my friend what happened, he cringed at thinking what might have happened if I had tried to go under the bridge. Actually, cringe isn't the word he used.
The moral of this story is very short- Keep your head down, both in the field and when approaching low bridges!