It was “one of those days” for Lance Rainwater, Coyote Hill’s vocational skills instructor and property manager. But 14 year-old Mason*, Lance’s sidekick for the day, declared it “the greatest day ever.”
Lance and Mason had set out after a heavy snow in March, with the intention of moving hay to a pasture for a few of our horses. The task normally wouldn’t take very long.
“Things went wrong from the start,” Lance said, “First, we left the gate open, thinking the horses would stay with the hay.” The horses had a mind of their own, however, and before Lance and Mason could stop them, they had taken off through the gate.
“They took off towards the arena where the rest of the horses were,” Lance said. “We tried to catch up to them but eventually had to hop in the Gator.” However, on their way back to the horses, the Gator got stuck in the snow and the two were forced to find shovels to dig it out.
After the horses were finally back where they belonged, Mason and Lance went back to the tractor to get the second bale of hay. Thinking it would be easier to turn the tractor off while hooking up the large bale, Lance shut off the engine. Upon hooking up the bale, Lance turned the keys to start the tractor – but nothing happened.
After 45 minutes of trying to revive it, Lance called Executive Director Larry McDaniel, hoping he would have some advice. “It took Larry literally five seconds to figure it out,” Lance said. “Larry asked us if the PTO was on. It was. All I had to do was turn it off, and the tractor started.”
“I had been pretty frustrated up to that point,” Lance said. “But when we found out it was simply an operating error, I couldn’t help but smile.”
Now, a few weeks after the event, Lance just laughs and shakes his head whenever he talks about it. “Mason got to do so much that day that he had never done before…digging things out of the snow, running after the horses. To him – it was a great day!”
We’re all proud of Mason’s positive outlook.
–story by Allissa Fisher, MU Service Learning Student
*name changed for sake of confidentiality