Dad and the trailer-load of manure

Three-minute story

Dad and the trailer-load of manure

At fourteen I worked on a local farm, milking a small herd of cows every morning before setting off for school. At weekends and during the holidays there was more work for me, often working with tractors, and I made myself very useful. My dad was a keen gardener and grew vegetables for our table that were always plentiful and which tasted delicious. The farmer for whom I worked got wind of this and asked whether Dad would like a trailer-full of manure for the garden.

There was, and still is nothing like well-rotted farm yard manure for a vegetable garden. Listen to gardening experts on radio or television and they will all give the same advice: if you can lay your hands on farmyard manure grab as much as you can. Once Dad and I had loaded a trailer I drove it proudly along the farm lane until we reached Lodge Lane, the start of the public road. Here Dad insisted on taking over with me sitting on the mudguard of the tractor.

Ours was a busy road, the flow of traffic punctuated regularly by the red 247A buses on their way between Gants Hill and Harold Hill. As we approached the house at a steady fifteen miles an hour, the tractor was roaring and a tail of traffic slowed and waited to get past. We pulled just past the house and stopped.

If you have ever tried to reverse a trailer with a motor vehicle you will know, that turning the vehicle in the opposite direction to the one you require the trailer to take is difficult and is leant only by slow and repetitive practice. This is difficult on a busy main road where motorists hate even a moment’s delay. From my seat on the mudguard, and then from the start of our driveway I tried to get my dad to do what I knew only too well I could have done so quickly which would have been to the relief of my father and the even greater relief of the dozens of drivers who were impatient for us to get out of their way.

This was not to be; driving unlicensed, and driving without the protection of insurance for other road users, is not only wrong, but illegal. This Dad had made very clear. His explanation did little to pacify me while, embarrassed and impatient, I made myself unpleasant to him while he tried again and again to reverse the trailer into our driveway. If only he would have the sense to let me take over for a moment and get the tractor and its difficult trailer off the road and out of the way of the traffic.

Eventually he succeeded and the precious cargo was unloaded and formed an impressive heap in front of our garage doors, next to the wall of a neighbour who also grew vegetables and who would be rewarded with a few wheelbarrows full. Looking back I find myself appalled by my behaviour with a father who was always so kind and patient.

What makes it difficult to reverse a trailer?
What frustrated the writer about their journey?

Why did the writer’s father insist on driving on public roads?
Can you see any other way of solving this dilemma?

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