Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Excerpt from Horse Haven 2

For the Farm Life blog today, I have special guest Grace Marshall. She has been kindUARWCOVER enough to share an excerpt from her young adult book, Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts, Horse Haven Book 2.

~ Chapter 20: Lightweight ~

Ruth was unsuccessful tracking Devin down on foot, so she ended up getting his phone number from her father and calling him. He was out in the woods clearing the trails and said he’d meet her at the first barn where the tractor was parked. She waited for him at the tractor, perching on one of the steps. She texted Charlene and Jill. Neither of her Wisconsin friends responded before Devin found her.

“Hey Ruth, are you ready to learn how to drive this thing?”

Ruth glanced up at the large beast behind her. “Not at all.”

He chuckled and she scrambled down so he could have access to the tractor’s door. He opened it and motioned with a dark-skinned hand for her to climb up.

She did as beckoned and settled into the seat.

“First, I’ll just teach you how to use the tractor and then we can come back and get the brush hog,” he explained.

“Sounds good to me,” she replied.

He pointed all the levers out one by one and explained what they did, then he had her turn the tractor on. He quizzed her on what did what and had her practice with the levers. Then he explained the concept of shifting to her.

“Um, okay.”

“It will make more sense as you do it. Just take your time.”

She did. She started out by backing out of the barn. Then she stopped, fully and easily transitioning into first. She worked the clutch and gas at the same time until it was going.

“Pretty good.”

It was pretty good until she tried to transition into second. She didn’t fully depress the clutch, causing the gears to grind loudly as she panicked and braked.

Devin gripped more tightly on the bar on the side of the tractor. “Let’s not do that again, okay?”

“I would have preferred we didn’t do it the first time.”

“I agree.”

After Ruth got the hang of driving the tractor, Devin had her drive back to the barn. He instructed her to get out and let him drive so he could get the brush hog hooked up. She helped him back up to the device then he hopped off and showed her how to get the pins in place.

After that he let Ruth back into the driver seat and they headed to the first pasture. He told her to pull the lever that would turn the brush hog on. There was a loud grating noise then the tractor sputtered and died.

They exchanged confused looks. “Try it again.”

She did, going through the same process with the same result.

“Hm. Let me try.”

She climbed out of the tractor and stood a few feet away.

He turned the tractor on and started up the brush hog without a problem. He took it down the field a ways and then stopped and turned it off. Ruth ran down to where he was. She opened the door and peered up at him.

“Well, I’m not sure what the problem is. Try one more time.”

They exchanged places and again the tractor sputtered and died when Ruth tried to turn on the brush hog. She turned confused periwinkle eyes to Devin and shrugged helplessly.

He frowned and his brow creased in thought. “Well…” he said slowly, “I don’t know.” They didn’t do or say anything for a few long moments, then Devin said, “Actually, I think I do know. I think that maybe you weigh enough to make the tractor move, but the safety weight setting must be higher in order to operate the brush hog. Apparently you don’t meet the necessary weight requirement.”

Ruth made an annoyed face at him. “So what can we do?”

“Talk to your father I guess, see how he wants to handle it.”

After parking the tractor in the first barn, the two of them headed inside and found Peter in his office.

He laughed without reservation when they informed him of the problem. “I guess she’ll just have to put some weight on those bones.” Well, he thought it was funny at least.

“Nice, Dad. What do we do in the meantime?”

“Go broke?”

Ruth put a hand on her hip and sighed loudly. “Anything a little more helpful for the present time?”

Her dad put his hands up defensively. “Okay, okay. How about you put a little extra weight on the seat or see if there is a seat weight adjustment?”

“I already adjusted it as low as it would go this morning, when you told me I’d be training her,” Devin explained.

“Then find something extra to put on the seat to add weight.”

“Like what?” Devin asked.

“How about a sandbag?” Ruth asked. She wanted to get some ideas in quick before they made her sit on a concrete block, or something equally or more uncomfortable.

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” her father responded. “Why don’t you two go test it out? Come back and let me know if it doesn’t work for you.”

Ruth nodded and led the way back to the tractor. Luckily, the sandbag worked and she didn’t have to try sitting on anything ridiculous for extra weight.

Grace’s book sounds like a fun farm adventure. I hope you’ll check it out! More about Grace:

Christian Young Adult and New Adult Books That Provoke Thought! Grace Marshall was Grace Marshallborn in Wisconsin, lived for some time in Illinois and Tennessee, and currently resides in Missouri. She juggles her time between her cat, her oversized dog, her part-time job, her business, and her dashing husband. She believes in living life to the fullest and can’t wait to see where God will take her or have her write next.

She is the author of the “Horse Haven” series and “Person of Faith,” and has also contributed several articles to newspapers. Find out more about Grace at

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