We’ve all seen them. In fact, some of us have actually driven them. But the truth is that whether you’ve driven one or not, it’s pretty hard not to notice a vehicle that belongs to a busy farm family.
Back in the day, we drove a car that was embarrassing for the kids to be seen in. It was actually a pretty elite car on the inside, but the outside design left a little to be desired.
Because of that, it wasn’t overly disappointing to me when our young children – in a frenzied game of something-or-other – shoved a plastic molded Johnny Depp character from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie into the narrow spokes on one of the hubcaps.
Though there were a few cars like ours around, we could always spot ours (for a lot of reasons), but in part because Mr. Depp, unable to be extricated without a head-ectomy, was stuck in the spokes and rode around there for months.
Oh, the headache he must have had.
But truly, farm family vehicle sightings happen all over, and they’re easy to spot.
Most prominently, you can’t tell what color the vehicle is supposed to be. Our sons drive an old black Ford Ranger as their clobber-around work truck.
They bought it in high school, and now that they’re two years out of college, I’m sure it has never been washed under their ownership.
“It doesn’t look as cool if it’s washed,” they say. You have to visually examine the cab to tell the truck’s color-the rest of it is gravel dust grayish brown.
Grass is sometimes seen dragging from the bottom of the driver’s door. How many times does a farmer open the door as he drives along, checking the condition of grass hay that needs to be cut? Or finds himself in the pasture and closes the door on a patch of long grass? It’s obvious that “grass skirts” are totally in style in Iowa at certain times of the year.
Most families travel with various necessities somewhere in the car.
During the hectic fall season when she takes her meal-serving job on the road, the farm wife travels with a box of tableware, napkins and plastic bags of all sizes.
Suspiciously, she appears ready to quickly serve up some good road kill if she happens upon some. Her family curiously investigates for white stripes before consumption.
For certain farm vehicles, there is a crusty odor that lingers. Nose hairs may or may not be endangered, or crusty, depending on what went on that day.
Some farm vehicles are as dusty on the inside as they are on the outside. It’s gone too far when you can’t see to drive because of the dust wafting inside the car.
A quick swipe around the dash and doors with a chore sweatshirt usually tames it for a short time.
Farm family vehicles often have a rear hatch that you could actually field cultivate.
As the gravel dust billows behind the car, it occurs to the farm wife that clean rear windows are a reality for city people and those living on paved roads.
Usually she doesn’t want to see what’s back there anyway – more road dust.
The farm family’s vehicle sometimes carries stinky people in it, including the farm wife, so she travels with blankets to cover seats while manure-splattered clothes briefly occupy that seat.
A washing machine and disinfectant spray are usually close at hand after such outings.
As for the farm family’s pickup truck, it’s a wonder there’s room to carry people in it, because it serves as a makeshift office, vet supply store, agronomy center, fertilizer plant (of all sorts), tool shed, communications center, clothing store and kitchen.
If there’s room for you in there, consider yourself honored. You could be riding in the spokes, like Johnny Depp.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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