The 8N and the Fox
by Zane Sherman
Dec. 13 1998, Renfroe, Alabama.
Last night I dreamed about the day that I plowed the field of about 10 acres
over on what Jimmy and Dandy called the Ledbetter field. I was driving the
1948 8N Ford tractor that Jimmy bought in 48 new This was prebably in about
1951 and maybe even befor the house was built. This would have made me to be
about16 years old and I drove the tractor for nothing and would have paid to
drive it if I had had any money which I didn't, but neither did anyone else
at that time.
I was breaking land with the old 2 disc Dearborn plow that you don't
see anymore. I covered about 24" each round that you made with the plow and
tractor and sometimes it seemed that Jesus would come again before I could
possibly ever finish a field as big as 10 acres! Even though I loved to drive the
tractor. On one of my rounds around the field after I had done about 2 acres,
I stopped the tractor to back up and turn 90 degrees right. I looked down the
last furrow I had made and there was a full grown red fox jumping up and
landing on all fours to catch a grasshopper and eat it.
He didn't run away as
soon as he saw me but continued to hunt in the furrow for bugs and
grasshoppers. He was a big and beautiful dog red fox and
didn't seem to be afraid of the tractor as I advanced ever close to him. He
just kept jumping up and landing on all fours. When I finally got to within
about 59 feet of him he looked up at me and the 8N and trotted off into the
woods. I thought to myself how lucky I was to have been able to see a fox in
the wild and him not even to have been afraid of me and the tractor.
As I came
to the same place in the 10 acre field I looked down the furrow to where the
fox had been and there he was again! This time he looked at me, and as if
to ask my permission he started to hunt again and continued to do so until I
was within about 20 feet of him. This time he trotted off but not to the edge
of the woods, only to the edge of the field and watched as I plowed past
and looked me straight in the eye. He continued to watch until I was well past
him and he came back and began to hunt in the fresh plowed dirt of the
The fox continued to do this nearly every round I made with the
tractor except for a time or two when I thought that he had gone on his way.
Then there he was again - but this
time he was just laying in the last furrow that I had plowed watching me as I
came closer! He just layed there until the last moment, got up and
just moved aside for me to pass. I pushed in the clutch and stopped the 8N and
he moved away a few feet and then turned and looked at me as if to say "OK you
can go on now" I restarted the tractor and went on around the field again and
again and the fox continued to swap furrows as I advanced across the field
like a snail going around world.
I can only assume this... but it was awfully hot
that day and I think that he probably discovered that the earth that had just
been turned was a lot cooler than anything else he had found that day and
decided to stick around look at me and enjoy the air-conditioning..
The Ledbetter fields are all over grown now with brush and pine trees
and I suppose that I am the last person who could tell you where they were,
but I'll always be able to see them in my memories.
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