He continued. “I had about three months of doctorin’ and stretchin’ the tubes ’til I was 14. Then, I started gettin’ better. It’s what kept me outta Vietnam or I’d gone for sure. I was one of the first in the draft.” Cliven was now looking down from the screen of the TV mounted high on the wall above.
“After high school, I just went to farmin’ … didn’t really like school, so college never entered my mind. I like running equipment,” he stated with conviction.
“At four years old, my dad got a new Ford tractor. When it was delivered, I want to be the one to drive it off the trailer, in fact I insisted. Now, that’s a big deal for an adult, let alone a little kid. He set up ’em ramps on the lowboy trailer and said ‘get up there, then!’ so I did. I back that brand-new tractor right off ’a there! Right down them ramps! By eight, I was drivin’ it alone, using both feet to press down the clutch. I was still a little guy and I didn’t have enough 36 strength to push down the clutch with one leg. So, I’d swing my other leg over on the left side and just stand on the clutch with both feet. Shift the gears, then hop back up onto the seat. My momma, worr’in’ like mommas do, asked me one day; ‘What if you get into trouble?’ ‘I just turn off the key,’ I told her with great confidence.
“When I was ten, I learn’t to repair the banks of irrigation ditches. The gophers would dig their holes and tunnels all through ’em, and they’d begin to leak. These wern’t little berms like you’d think. They were big embankments that held back allot of water, ’em darn gophers would really get to digging and moving dirt around. Sometime the holes would go down ten feet or more. If I didn’t fix ’em, then, in short order, they’d start to wash away. So, my dad stuck me on a tractor and I figured out what to do. All I had was a blade on that tractor. So, it took some real doing and I basically developed my own technique to getting ’er done.
“My dad often worked to town in those days. So, it was up to my mom and me to do the farm’n. On the weekend, me and dad would discuss what needed to get done. Then, he would set up the implements of the tractor, ’cuz I was too small to hook ’em up. Then dur’n the week, I just go about farm’n after school. In those years, I built up my skills; but, more importantly, my confidence in operating equipment. I developed a reputation as a ‘good operator’ by my neighbors, my community. So, by twelve, my neighbors would hire me to clean out their irrigation ponds. I grew up fast on the farm.”
He stopped and considered his next story with a smile. “One summer, the neighbors adopted a couple of babies, two weeks old. The adopting parents were kind’a hard cases. Didn’t talk much all about farming and ranching. In their late 50s maybe even their 60s. When they brought these brand new little babies home – they were just a few days old – they didn’t know what to do with ’em! I mean feed ’em, wash ’em, diaper ’em – nuttin’!” He said with a laugh. “But, they were proud new parents.
“So, they got hold of my mother and ask for help. Mom sent me to their place. Their place was over the hill from our place … 60 miles over the hill! While usually this would be somethin’ my sisters would do, but I got sent. When I got there, the husband just put on his hat and walked out the door and went up to a cabin they had some 35 miles away. He left me and the wife there to take care of those babies. I ended up staying several weeks until she could do it alone. I mean I was showing her everything, they didn’t have any electricity; but, they did have water to the house. So, I’d show her how to make bottles, how to change diapers, the whole kit and caboodle. They had an old washing machine that was run by a small gas motor. But, I could never git’er to work for me. So, I washed diapers by hand. She was as much of a hard case as he was. But, she loved those babies and sure appreciated the help.”
And, with that, Cliven just smiled from ear to ear.
To be continued…
But there is much more to tell about the story of Cliven Bundy challenging the government’s authority over federal land … so, stay tuned.
Learn more about Cliven Bundy: American Terrorist Patriot or get your book copy here.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, ex-felon, and a highly sought after conference speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column (MikeStickler.com)