Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cutting Vines, Grace Portrayed

Cutting Vines
A week ago Dad asked me if I’d be willing to cut vines for harvest; I was surprised and a little ecstatic. To be invited to drive tractor, that’s the real deal. It’s not that he hasn’t had any of us drive tractor before, but he generally just has himself, his guys or someone needing a job, other than his children, do it. Being the cool person that I am, I calmly told him, “Sure, I’ll give it a go. Uh, you’ll show me first though, right?” To which he answered, “of course” which I think is similar to my cousin telling me “no duh Sherlock.

Field with cut vines.
My tutorial showing me how to do it lasted about 30 min to an hour, and resulted in a before bed list of 20 things to keep in mind. After showing me Dad asked me what I thought. I said it seemed simple enough…  My Father keeping things in perspective said, “It’s not too complicated; Kary (brother) did it last year.”  No pressure.

I am now into my 5th day of cutting vines. Yesterday was not good. Actually the first several days didn’t go so well.

Day 1: It was ok, but the vines were slipping out a lot and brilliant me figured that was somewhat normal? WRONG!

Day 2: Better on the vines, (I think) but Dad had to come show me how to turn the tractor for the staggered rows without landing it in the canal. Praise the Lord that didn’t happen, I’d never live it down. Thankfully after he showed me I was mostly fine, although I may almost have gotten the tractor stuck once. But it didn’t so, since there are no pics, it didn’t happen.

Sweet potatoes pulled up, NOT GOOD!
Day 3: NOT GOOD. Let’s put it this way, I ended up missing beginner’s night volleyball and hanging out with friends to fix what I’d screwed up and finish that half of the field. Thankfully it went better at the end and by that time I was so exhausted, I didn’t care.

Day 4 – YESTERDAY: I cracked. I went out there on the note of things were going better when I left last night. Unfortunately that note did not carry over to the field or machinery. Row one went well, and then it started acting up. The right side kept getting jammed and I kept having to back over to cut the vines, and potatoes were coming up, because the stupid thing was pulling the entire plant instead of cutting them and……..after 2 hours of trying to make it work, I stopped the tractor, climbed off and sat in the shade. I didn’t want to call Dad out again, he’d had to help me the last three days, I was ready to throw in the towel, but couldn’t quite pull the trigger.
Then I saw I had a missed call from Mom. Turns out, she'd called me with a question about butter the night before, by the end of the conversation I’d told her me cutting vines wasn’t working and they should see if Kary could do it again. In grief I drove the tractor back to the shed, parked it and went home. I was too ashamed to call my Father and tell him myself, I left that to Mom.

I went to my room devastated by yet another failure. The only thing I could think of was to get away. There are some things that are impossible to live down. I was a failed farmer’s daughter. I couldn’t even do a simple job, it was humiliating. Eventually I got up and started looking at hotels, far away from home. A drive sounded like a good idea. I even contacted Domi (another brother) to see if he could take the girls to Youth Group.

Dad putting on the new blades. "They're like shark teeth."
It was while I was curled up again, taking a break from trip planning, that Dad called me. He said it wasn’t me, it was the vine cutter acting up, I’d done nothing wrong. He asked if I was going to leave him hanging. With that statement alone he won me back. He asked me if I enjoyed it and I said “yeah, when it’s working.” He told me it was too soon to call it quits and that my problem was shaken confidence and asked me to meet him in the field in an hour.

How could I say no? I didn’t want to quit, I just didn’t want to ruin harvest or be useless. I felt bad for always needing his help, but I’ve realized, he doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge! In fact, he often goes into extra detail.

He met me in the field and first explained what he’d fixed. Next he drove two rows showing me it was working and explaining things as he went. Then he showed me a wonder that is up there with cut grass.  We went to another field where the sand is heavier and the vines are thicker, and when the vine cutter came through the vines fell away and laid out like a dream. It was truly beautiful. After a couple of passes he gave me the wheel and how well everything ran. It was like Christmas.

I wish I could say my confidence has been fully restored, but it hasn’t. It’s better; I can face my family and go out in public. I wish I could say it ended on that high note, but it didn’t. I went back to the field of difficulty that had me frustrated and cursing. But as Dad told me last week this job is “learn by yelling”. How well my father knows me.  

 I’m nowhere near my Da’s ability to cut vines. I can’t shift while sitting sideways, I can’t turn as tightly and I still mess up with the pole, but that’s ok, ‘cause I’ll learn. From the beginning Dad told me he wasn’t underestimating my ability to mess up, but here’s the kicker, he still chose me and gave me a chance. And instead of letting me fail and quit in shame, he’s working with me to help me get better.

Yesterday my FATHER'S grace was portrayed through a bearded man with rough work hands, and a red SPJ hat. Hopefully in the days and weeks to come, I’ll mess up less. And if a, heaven forbid, disaster happens (not that uncommon in the field); hopefully I’ll remember yesterday and take comfort from it.   

I have to say, today was a nice respite after the last couple of days. The vines cut like butter, and since I went out around the time the work day was ending it was so peaceful. As the sun started setting, making everything golden, life just sort of melted away. All the to do lists, failures, decisions, and plans didn’t matter as I sat on the tractor basking in the glow, cutting vines. 


  1. P.S. The last picture is really cool.

  2. We missed you at Volleyball and hanging out but I can tell you were doing something much more important. You are an amazing tractor driving, vine cutting, writer.

  3. Thank you both for your response and words of encouragement.

    The pictures of Dad were an extra bonus. When I went to take some of the vine cutter he just "happened" to be working on it. 10 cent miracle?