The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

A brush hog is a large, flat, heavy duty mower that fits on the three-point behind a farm tractor. It is driven by the tractor’s power take-off. Brush hogs are pretty handy. Mount that behind a tractor and you can mow a five-foot width through just about anything you can drive a tractor through. Or over.

Over the past many years, me and my brush hog have had a lot of fun knocking down prickly ash, heavy weeds, small Poplar trees, and thistles the size of giant Redwoods. It is highly enjoyable to look behind you and witness this cleared path that you and your brush hog have just created. It is the ultimate in Guy Stuff to pull up just short of a six-to-eight-foot-high thicket of prickly ash that would rip you to shreds if you were to try and walk through it, rev up the tractor engine, let out the clutch, and in a few seconds of apocalyptic crashing and banging, chew it up and spit it out like pieces of spaghetti.

One summer, there were so many thistles in my fields that I received a nice letter from The Weed Prince, a Petty Functionary who lives in a castle at the county seat. I don’t remember nor would I tell you exactly what the letter said, but it basically complimented me on the number, variety, and sheer magnitude of my many thistles. It also pointed out that, despite my visible accomplishments in the field of thistle agronomy, I would be better off financially if I got rid of them.

Me and the brush hog went out there, where I discovered that mostly, the best thistles sprout from gopher mounds. After grinding down many gopher mounds, the brush hog broke.

I went and bought another one, a nice used one that the machinery jockey claimed had been owned by a little old lady from Boatville who only used it to mow between her Begonias. The only problem was the jockey couldn’t find the power take-off shaft that was supposed to come with it. “No problemo,” he said, “I’ll find it and drop it off at your farm next time I go by.”

He doesn’t go by, apparently, so I scavenged the shaft off the old broken brush hog, used it, winter came, and I kind of forgot about it, in the process of using that shaft on the snowblower when the first winter blizzard hit.

Over the winter, I ruined the one power take-off shaft that I had. (I had a close encounter with my wife’s canoe, which was concealed in a snow bank. Well, ex-wife now. Maybe not on account of that particular blunder, but on them all.)

Spring came. I needed the brush hog. No power take-off shaft. I called the machinery jockey. I said to him: “Did you give me the shaft from that brush hog deal last summer?” There. Can’t be any clearer about what I needed.

“Weren’t you happy with that brush hog?” he asked.

“Sure I was, but did you give me the shaft?”

“Listen,” he said, “I give people good deals. I don’t give’em the shaft!”

I said: “You said you’d give me the shaft!”

He said: “If you’re not happy with it, bring it back.”

I said: “But I am happy.”

He said: “Well, then, don’t be claiming you got the shaft on the deal.”

I told him I still wanted the shaft. That I needed the shaft. He said that most people don’t want the shaft.

I said: “You sold some machinery to my next-door neighbor, and you said you’d give him the shaft when you delivered his.

He said: “Well, that guy’s a liar. I never either gave him no shaft. I’ll give him a what-for if he says I gave him the shaft.”

I said: “I don’t know what a what-for is, but I don’t want one. You sold me that brush hog, that’s for sure, but what I don’t know is if you gave me the shaft.”

“Okay,” he said, if you insist. I gave you the shaft.”

“You didn’t!”

“Yes I did!”

He hung up.

I guess, looking back on the whole transaction, I got the shaft when he didn’t give me the shaft.