When you send your farmer out to the field and they return hours before they could possibly be finished, there is generally only one question on your mind. "How bad did you break it?" The worst possible answer to that question would be this: Happily--for us anyway--this was not our $150,000 weenie roast. But short of "It burnt up", the next worst answer is, "Well, I think I found all of the parts." Which is exactly what my dad said when he came in from the hayfield this week. According to my husband, Dad picked up a rock the size of a basketball with the swather. This was, of course, a gross exaggeration. I saw the rock in question and it wasn't a millimeter bigger than a standard bowling ball. At the moment the rock entered the header, an irreversible chain of destruction was set into motion. It jammed, bringing the auger to an abrupt halt. This caused all of the pins to shear off the twelve inch sprocket at the end of the auger. The chain attached to the sprocket whipped free and wrapped around the shaft at the other end, which brought it to a stop, but only at one end. The other end continued to spin, driven by the Power Take Off from the tractor, until the shafts bowed, and one snapped. Bearings and bolts and chains spewed across the field. All quicker than Dad could hit the brakes. Three days later, after a parts scavenging expedition that involved at least two neighbors, the swather has been reconstructed and is once again whacking away. Now let's just hope we don't see hide or hair of my dad until at least late this afternoon, which is the earliest he could possibly finish. We'll also be keeping an eye out for clouds of black smoke.