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Contributed Article

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 furrow.

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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