Vapor Lock 11 July 2014

catepillar oat hay vapor lock

Wheat harvest this year is test of a farmer’s patience. A cool and wet spring slowed the ripening and drying process such that when we’re usually winding up harvest by now, we’ve hardly begun. The heat came on this week, but this morning it is so humid that my run felt like those I’ve done near Atlanta when I’m there visiting my best friends, drenched when I return. I saw this huge caterpillar yesterday when I came home to switch trucks. I have no idea what sort it is, but it can move fast! If you know, please leave a comment.


Driving trucks to town, I passed by the oat field where we’d baled the small bales the other day and where I raked the swathed oats into rows for the big round baler. Passing the baler in the dark of night as I left the field and he entered it, I hadn’t seen the big rounds until today. I love the way they look, scattered around the field like so many pieces on a game board. Oat hay has the sweetest smell, clean and fresh and so different from alfalfa or sorghum.


As the day heated by the sun moved into late afternoon, a familiar sluggishness in the truck engine nagged at my mind. Pulling off the scale with the truck loaded, I began to lose power and then the truck gave up completely, like that little engine trying to take toys up the mountain to the waiting girls and boys, “I can’t go on, I can’t go on, this job is not for me…” It died and right in the middle of the elevator traffic pattern. But, in true community style, help was not long in coming. I dumped my three piddley half-gallons of water on to cool the fuel line, leaving the hood open to relieve the vapor lock. The small white pick-up towed me out of the truck traffic pattern to wait for everything to cool, and the man with the small pool brought over a five gallon bucket of water. Thirty minutes had us going again; unloaded I stopped by the pool man’s spigot and we doused the engine to cool it further. The elevator employees gave me a hard time about taking a break in the middle of the road and I told them I had to stop there because I’d ordered a pizza and was waiting for delivery.


Almost five o’clock by this time, I thought for sure I was home free. Seven miles from home, the engine gave me the message that I needed a lot more cool water. Dead on the side of the dirt road, the three half-gallon jugs once again emptied, the hood open, and possibly a few choice words spoken as I kicked the tire, I sat in the shade behind the truck with some beetles and nice view of the wheat field waiting to be cut and waited about 45 minutes before ole’ red cranked over one more time and took me home.

About Sally Gerard

I am a writer, runner, teacher, singer, guitar player, mom, lover, coffee drinker, hunter, antique tractor driver, horsewoman, sister, and lover of the outdoors. Did I mention that I love lighthouses?
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5 Responses to Vapor Lock 11 July 2014

  1. G Kohl says:

    Sally – caterpillar possibly a white lined sphinx? see image about half way down page – Thank you for your day to day stories of life as a farmer/writer, or is it writer/farmer.


  2. Sally Gerard says:

    I did look but the stripes are the wrong way.


  3. Sally Gerard says:

    Wow, that is really cool. I tried to Google image search, but could not find a good match. I’ll look at a Monarch!


  4. Kathy Cordes says:

    I think your catapillar might be a monarch butterfly. Did you know that every summer it is only the fourth generation of monarchs that migrate south. They have to lay eggs and go through all the other stages 3 times before fall! I think that is so amazing!


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