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The Salesman

I lived on a 70 acre farm. We had a big farm house, barn and some out buildings. The yard was really big and my dad had purchased a John Deere 110 lawn tractor. Kinda looked like this.

I was probably about 10 years old which means my brothers were 8 and 6. My dad always said this was his ‘hobby’ but I know it was designed to keep us boys out of trouble for as long as my parents could. We had lots of chores and helped out but I have to say I have some really good memories from those days.

This is not really one of them from that time but as I look back it just makes me laugh. It was in the summer and on a farm in the summer you are sometimes putting up hay. We had hired some help to do the lifting of the bales into the barn and it was a few days ordeal to get it all done.

It’s hot and sweaty work and the hay baler creates dust and debris that just settles over everything and makes you itch something fierce. Especially when mixed in with the sweat. It was not my favorite time of year but I can say I still love the smell of a fresh cut alfalfa field.

Now if you look close at the picture you’ll see the stuff holding the bale together. It can be baling wire or baling twine. My dad used twine and it’s a bit like a tough, rough textured rope. That’s important to the rest of the story.

We were done baling for the season and my brothers and I were charged with picking up all the twine that had blown around the farm. It was caught in the fences, around trees, shrubs and all over the yard. My mom was planning to fire up the John Deere 110 tractor and cut the grass that sunny Saturday afternoon.

One of the lessons I have learned from my own boys is the difference between ‘done’ and ‘finished’. When my sons were younger we would send them to clean their rooms. A few minutes would go by and they would present themselves and say ‘I’m done’. Now my experience had told me that it takes more than 3 minutes to clean up a mess like that so I would go inspect. It was clear that there was more to do. At least to me. After some repeats of that cycle I realized that “done” meant that they were not going to do any more and finished meant “there was no more to do.”

So my brothers and I took a few minutes to pick up the discarded twine and reported to my mother that we were ‘done’.

She got on the tractor and began to ride around cutting the grass. Imagine some of that twine getting tangled up in the three fast moving blades under the mower deck and jamming up that whole machine. It chugged to a stop and died.

My mom was mad. Really mad and really loud as she got off the tractor, stormed into the kitchen to get a big knife to cut the twine from the underside of the mower and was still yelling at us boys when she stepped out the front door. She was surprised when she was greeted by a salesman standing in the yard by the tractor looking at her, the knife and us boys.

He was a Bible salesman.

We have a really nice collection of Bible story books that sit proudly on the shelf in the living room. Several volumes and a huge King James Version of the whole bible. It was a good day for that salesman.

Thanks for listening,
Jerry Robertson