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      Mowing: “I always thought a yard was three feet, then I started mowing the lawn.” – Lettie Cowman, American author

As mowing seasons go, it’s been crazy busy.

At the Lyman County home place, weeds threaten to encircle, overwhelm and otherwise smother all living vegetation thanks to continual rainfall.

Rain in August? There were many years when it didn’t rain much even in June and Dad would be in the wheat field by Independence Day.

I’ve tried to keep up, but when steam started rolling out of the old tractor’s radiator cap last week, I figured it was time for a break.

In recounting this mechanical problem to Wade, my younger brother, he calmly began listing the possible reasons for the overheating. He wondered if I had checked the fan belt. If it’s loose or broken, that 300 Utility will heat up in a hurry. Or, you might have a bad thermostat. On the other hand, it might be your water pump. Did you look at it?  And, with weeds 2 feet tall, that 64-year-old tractor was forced to work awfully hard.

As I digested his comments, it again occurred to me that he always has been a problem-solver. In the mechanical area, he takes after our older brother, who has a gift for analyzing problems and fixing them. As a boy of 12, Kent built a car from scratch. He could repair or build just about anything.

But that’s a story for another time.

As the day cooled a bit, I took a closer look at the 1955 Utility 300. The fan belt was hanging limply around the pulley shaft. I saw no bracket to loosen or tighten for a new belt. Instead, as Wade quickly observed, the entire fan housing had to be rotated to widen the pulley, allowing belt replacement.

No consulting fee required, he said with a smile.

Years ago, sometime in the early 1990s before the internet changed everything, he came up with the idea of a central clearinghouse for cars, pickups, tractors and even RVs. He called it Direct Referral and he persuaded a number of dealerships in the state to send their inventories to him. He then would find what a caller needed and refer them back to the source. It was convenient, efficient and fast. A great idea.

But, as often occurs with start-up businesses, it was under capitalized.

I reminded him of that the other day and asked him if he knew just how close he had come to being another Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.

He just laughed and suggested I go mow some weeds.

Aug. 28, 2019