There’s little room on the highways for them, but they have to be there – particularly at this time of year.
The presence of farm equipment puttering down Central Texas roadways is a familiar sight to longtime residents but, one hay and cattle producer notes, the tractors, combines and hay balers are increasingly drawing the ire of fellow motorists, some of whom have unfortunately taken action.
“We’ve always had issues going down the road with these machines,” said Buzz Mayfield of Mayfield Hay & Cattle. “But lately, it’s gotten serious.”
Mayfield, who operates in Hays and Caldwell counties, said two years ago on SH 21, someone actually threw a bottle at him and shattered a window. Another time he was rear-ended on the same highway. SH 21, he said,
is “absolutely death-defying” to drive a tractor down.
Other times, he’s been screamed at so loudly “I could hear them over the noise inside the cab.
“We don’t want to be in the way,” he said, calling the impatient behavior of others disrespectful.
In addition to hauling his own hay and cattle, Mayfield occasionally helps out other area farmers, driving equipment that, for the most part, has 19 to 20 miles per hour as a top speed. Moreover, he has to travel on
many two-lane roads that many times have no shoulders.
“When you pull over to let people around it almost causes more issues trying to get back on the road.” Were there to be an accident, Mayfield says many people don’t realize that farmers have a right to be on the roads. “If they crash into us it’s their fault,” he said.
And it has happened. Once when a tree fell on his fence and a cow got out, the animal was hit by a Hays County deputy sheriff. “It cost the county $1,200,” he said.
Another time, he recalls, he had a dozen or so cars behind him as he pulled a 45-foot plow down
the road in Caldwell County. Immediately behind him was a deputy sheriff but another motorist, in a suburban, apparently didn’t see the law enforcement vehicle.
“He was passing everybody in the turn lane blowing past and shooting the finger. The cop pulled him over — it was the greatest day of my life.”
Mayfield said he’s typically on the roads from February until November of each year. “February through spring is the busiest time of the year for everybody. Then August, September is harvest season for row crops.”
Though it may be an inconvenience for others on the road, the presence of farm equipment indicates a healthy rural economy and food supply. “I wish people would be a little more patient. That’s all we want,” he said.