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Shortly after my arrival and introduction to his wife and two young kids, Louis suggested that I change into work clothes.
And then when I got bored with that I would go off to explore the meadows and woods and perhaps have a nap in the hayloft.
Louis had a better idea: he had me greasing the tractor axle before I unpacked.
Louis must have had his doubts about me, but he was patient. The biggest machine I had ever handled was a lawnmower.
When the tractor’s wheel sank into a groundhog hole, I almost lurched overboard.
The Vermont I saw looking out of the Greyhound window seemed to me to be a depopulated zone.
It looked the way I had imagined the frontier had looked a century earlier.
But I did enjoy the way you could make tight turns by pressing just the left or just the right brake, instead of pressing them both, latched together for driving straight.
But after a few hours, it could get a little boring, so instead of raking in the traditional graceful rows, I raked my name and a rude word on the hillside.
Certain aspects of the milking process looked almost like fun.
I was impressed with the ease with which Louis tipped and spun the big, full, milk cans out of the barn and into the milk house. The can crashed and gushed its entire contents into a manure gutter while Louis watched, the blood draining from his face at the same rate as the milk — along with the money it represented — was draining from the can. I learned that farm kids at that time grew up in their father’s laps behind the wheel of the tractor and were driving the John Deere themselves well before it was legal for them to drive a car.