The first time I encountered a field car was when I was 17 years old. My family had recently moved from suburbia to an old farm out in the country. I had never driven a car before and was looking forward to getting my permit. But the 12-year-old kid next door had his own field car. He could barely see over the steering wheel and he was driving his own car!
The vehicle actually belonged to his father. It was a beat-up old station wagon. But the thing ran and the boy had full use of it. He would fire up the beast and barrel out of his back yard into the field behind his house. After hours and days of driving, he had worn a big figure 8 dirt track into the grass. Sometimes his younger brothers and sisters would pile in for a ride.
It was unthinkable that a boy could have and drive such a vehicle in the suburban neighborhood where I had come from. There were no fields—only hundreds of little ranch houses with small yards. I could see that the country life was different. There was more freedom, more opportunity for adventure.
FAST FORWARD THIRTY ONE YEARS....
Our old 1993 Ford Taurus station wagon has been parked in our backyard for a couple years now. Despite the red “check engine” light being on all the time, the motor still sounds pretty good.
We had repair work done on the engine a long time ago by an old “shade tree” mechanic who used to do most of our repairs for us. I say “used to” because he has since died of cancer. I think our car engine work was the last auto repair he did. He died shortly thereafter. Would you have a man who is visibly ill and dying of cancer do engine work on your car?
He told us the fix might only buy us another year (maybe longer) and that’s about when the red light came on. So it was that, and a multitude of other minor ailments that led to the car being parked in our back yard. I didn’t want to sell the piece of junk to anyone, but it still ran so I didn’t want to get rid of it either.
Last winter, I used the car to store 5-gallon gas cans and lumber and tarps in. Earlier this past spring, with snow still on the ground, a man driving a small tow truck pulled into the driveway and wondered if we wanted to get rid of the car. I almost let him have it, but I didn’t want to empty all the stuff out.
Well now I’m glad I didn’t get rid of that car because a few weeks ago I came home from work and it was parked in the driveway. My son Robert was all smiles as he told me how he used his grandmother’s car and some jumper cables to get it going. I guess that was the day Robert assumed ownership of his own field car.
If you’ve read my blog much you know we don’t own a field. But we have a neighbor (his name is Don) who has a field that adjoins our property. Don is a real good neighbor. I say that because he has generously allowed me to plant some of my garden in his field. And he lets me scythe the tall grass and weeds that grow there. And he lets us pasture our poultry there. And he even said we could raise a couple of pigs there this year (but we decided to hold off on that for now). See what I mean about Don being a real good neighbor?
So we treat the lower end of Don’s field like it is our own, which means Robert has a field to drive his field car in.
The car stays parked in our back yard. When the urge to drive hits him, Robert starts the car up, drives it a couple times around the house, then heads up the road, along the shoulder, and into Don’s field. He will circle the field a couple times, then drive home and park it.
One day Robert asked for my 20-gauge shotgun to go woodchuck hunting. I gave my permission and heard the field car start up in the backyard a few minutes later. Sitting at my computer, I watched from the upstairs of my house as he drove up the road into the field. He parked the car about 10 feet from a woodchuck hole, shut the engine off, and stuck the gun out the window. I kind of chuckled to myself about that. What woodchuck in his right mind would come out of his hole with a Ford Taurus parked right next to it? I turned my attention back to the computer and not more than 30 seconds later there was a loud shot. I looked up quick and Robert already had the car door open. He strode over to the hole, grabbed a handful of furry rodent fur and picked the dead critter up. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
If I had driven a car up to that hole and waited for the woodchuck to show, I can guarantee you that it would not happen, ever.
Here are a couple pictures of the field car. The first one shows 11-year-old James driving, with 15-year-old Robert in the passenger seat. You can see my OP field corn (planted in Don’s field) in the background. In the second picture Robert is driving with James in the back.