It was a beautiful spring day, and Bill Garvey, of White Lake, Michigan, had
decided to take a vacation day and get his garden ready to plant. Enjoying the
scent of morning grass, he jumped up on his tractor, an old International
Harvester model H, built sometime in the 1940's. Old Betsy, as he called the
tractor, didn't have hydraulics to lift up the implements like the new tractors
so Bill was using a double bottom, trailer plow instead. In this arrangement,
disks cut up the sod which is then turned over by the plow. The front tires are
close together, which causes the tractor to be tippy. But Bill wasn't worried.
He and old Betsy had worked together for a long time, and what could go wrong on
such a simple job?
As Bill sat down on the fiberglass seat he had installed 10 years earlier, it pinched his leg. "I should fix that crack," Bill thought. "But not today.." The garden area had two-foot-tall grass in it, and was way overdue for shearing. Maneuvering the tractor, he drove it down the hill with the plows cutting deep into the fresh ground, then raised the plow, turned around, went back up the hill and did it again. But the tall grass was getting caught and wrapped around the plow blades, and by the time Bill had made the third pass, he needed to stop and clear off the plow, so it would turn the sod over properly.
"I carefully backed the tractor and plow back up the hill I had just plowed," Bill recalls. "Success! I was able to push the grass off." But just as he pushed in the clutch to stop, the cracked fiberglass seat broke away from its mounting. Bill was still going in reverse! He fell back off the tractor while it was still moving.
"The lever that adjusted the depth of the plows went up the back of my shirt, my legs were up in the air and I was trapped," Bill says. "My face was right beside the right rear tire, which is five feet tall, and I could hear it thumping, trying to finish the climb up the plow, which was jack knifed. The right rear tire of the tractor was already on top of the tire of the trailer plow. The narrow front end of the tractor was only inches from tipping over---I could hear and feel it tearing my shirt."
This was it! Bill was going to be crushed by the tractor. "Dear God!" He cried out. "Please help me!"
Just then, the crank handle, which adjusts the angle of the plow, flipped up, and hit Bill in the face. It cut his cheek, but now he had a chance! Grabbing the handle, he used it to push himself up and get his feet back onto the deck of the tractor. With one jump and a lunge, his left foot hit the shut-off button. The engine quit.
"I crawled off the tractor and got down on my knees," Bill says. "I had tears in my eyes and thanked God for sending one of his angels to help me." It took him awhile before he could stand again, but he did. He was fine, except for some small scratches and his shaking knees.
Carefully, Bill pushed the clutch for the tractor and let it roll slowly, down off the plow. As it moved forward, it almost turned over again. Bill was afraid to start the engine. Somehow he got it back on all four wheels.
As his heartbeat returned to normal, Bill looked at the tractor more closely. What had caused the crank rod to turn? Maybe the tire hit it? And yet the handle had moved immediately after he'd asked God for help..
Bill's wife Lorraine was as grateful as he was when she heard the story. "Don't ever plow with your tractor alone again, Bill," she begged.
"I wasn't alone," Bill pointed out. And he thanks God each day for sending the help that he needed.
Joan Anderson Copyrighted by Joan Wester Anderson, used with permission. Originally appeared on the Where Angels Walk website, http://joanwanderson.com .
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