Farm Industry News Blog

That comes with delivery

Iowa farmer Jeff Ryan ventures out into the cold with his tractor to rescue a delivery van in the ditch.

Time is of the essence, so I opted not to unhook the tractor from the hay cannon. Zip over, do the job, zip home. A few minutes, tops. Why bother to unhook and then have to re-hook again later?

I headed down the road and decided to come at it from a different angle than the most direct route. Turning around wouldn't be a problem once I got there, so why not see some country on the short trip to the scene of the crime.

Lo and behold, once I got to the corner where my uncle lives, I saw no one in the ditch. This was probably a minor driveway miscue, so maybe a little bit more pedal was applied and my cousin got himself out. Then I looked to my right and saw what appeared to be a delivery van in the ditch about a quarter mile away. It was a white delivery van, just like the ones Spee-Dee Delivery Service uses.

Huh. Looks like my aunt was not using a nickname for her son to reflect his driving. This was actually a guy named Spee-Dee!

I pulled up to the crime scene and got out of the tractor. No one was trapped in the van and no one was in sight. A call was placed to my aunt and uncle's house. Busy signal. A call was placed to my cousin's cell phone. He was still at work, so he was not only not up to date on local traffic conditions and situations, he was not involved in them. Another call was placed to my uncle's house. This time, I got through. I told my aunt that I was at the scene. She said the driver would be down right away. That's when I decided to hop in the tractor and start backing up to their place. Beach your vehicle in cold weather and then have to sprint a quarter mile to and from the scene repeatedly? No thanks!

I barely got started down the road when the driver started running toward me. He wasn't looking for a ride and headed straight to the scene. I hopped out when I got there and we surveyed the situation. He had apparently driven down the road and encountered a combine that crowded him toward the shoulder. (That was driven by another cousin of mine, but we'll leave him out of this story.) This particular road is fairly narrow, so two vehicles meeting or passing need to pay attention if they're normal-sized. If they're wide, then it's a bit more of a challenge. Granted, this was a pretty tiny combine, but it's still wider than a vehicle.

The delivery outfit's name more or less implies what their rate of travel is, don't you think? Accordingly, the Spee-Dee guy veered a bit too wide and ended up eating some Road Ditch Surprise for his afternoon snack. He didn't just kind of slide off the road, either. Nope, he had that puppy pretty well marooned at a rather precarious angle. Had there not been snow to cushion his landing, I'd say he may have seen the road above him by the time he came to a stop.

My first suggestion was to hook my log chain up to his rear axle and see if we could pull him back out the way he went into the ditch. That was mainly because he didn't have any chain hooks anywhere on his van (when I looked the first time I was there) and I didn't want to be the one to have to dig a snow fort in the ditch to find his front axle! My suggestion to Captain Cruise Control was to hop in the van and put it in Neutral. No need to try backing out during the procedure. Let's just take the coefficient of drag and change it in our favor.

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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