Another Day on the Farm

the time before sunrise

Dawn: Sitting on the back deck with a first cup of coffee, I contemplate the rain-soaked windrows of hay on the hill in front of me. I had just finished baling half of what would have been a record harvest the previous evening, when the storm broke over the ridge with heavy winds, rain, and hail. Limping home on the tractor, I saw a glass that was half empty. Now, in the early dawn light of a new day, I see my work cut out for me: turning over windrows to let them dry out before attempting to bale the remainder of the hay. The dogs interrupt my thoughts to announce a coyote halfway up the hill. He stares down at his accusers, separated by a woven wire fence, and, with a distinctive limp, turns and abandons the hayfield. “Comrade,” I say into the morning air.

Mid-morning: I rustle a branch and a mourning dove explodes out of the crabapple tree. Leaning in on my orchard ladder, I part the curtain of twigs and leaves. There, hidden in the heart of the branches, is a single fledgling within days of its first flight. Fat and unlovely, like the son who won’t leave home, it takes up the whole nest. It stares at me with one anticipating eye before, in a “you aren’t my mother” moment, turning back to its inner world of waiting. I close the curtain and finish my harvest. I return to the house with two full buckets of fruit.

Noon: I toss down the last of the fresh bedding for the lambs, completing one of my more enjoyable tasks on the farm. I’m tempted to collapse into the soft hay, but instead grab a bag of minerals to fill up the flock’s saltbox. Before filling, I turn over the box to knock out the bits of poop and straw. And, in the doing, uncover a large nest of mice. Dozens of small rodents swarm over my boots and out the sides of the barn to safety. The dogs jump into action, fulfilling their designated role on the other side of the gate with loud abandon. Inside the barn, two dozen lambs stampede the saltbox, obliviously trampling the remaining mice. I quickly dump out the mineral and then leave the natural order to sort itself out.

Evening: I’m back on the deck, a pint of beer in hand, the same drying windrows in front of me. The dogs assume I need convincing of their utility and pick up their pattern of wild barking toward the hill. I rise from my chair and spot a large buck with impressive antlers. He stands in the evening light, the last rays of the setting sun as his company. Ignoring the peasant dogs, he turns and strolls with a dignified air over the hill and out of sight.

Raising my glass, I toast him and the close of another day on the farm.

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Reading this weekend: The Retro Future: looking to the past to reinvent the future. By J. M. Greer.

13 thoughts on “Another Day on the Farm

  1. Just heard an eagle owl and a tawny owl compete for acoustic superiority in the trees down the road.
    That’s the ‘Night’ entry down as well.

    Why do young birds sport that ‘GO AWAY’ stare?
    Don’t they want food?

  2. Your writing is so lovely; mine is so ugly and full of furious indignation. Befits our chosen subject matter, I suppose. Cheers to your cups of coffee and pints of beer, which provide as much texture (to a city dude like me) as all the animals noted.

  3. Interesting – I would have thought you turned the windrows so the underside would catch some rays… and thereby modifying the previous windrows. Thus at evening’s repose your view of the meadow should reveal ‘new’ windrows. Yeah, just a style point – or perhaps the colloquial aspect of one agrarian perspective…. such as the distinction between a loft and a hay mow, or hayrack vs. a wagon.

    How do you like the JMG text?

          • Well I do suppose that would suffice… though I had the proprietor of Small Farm Future in mind as I wrote it.

            But what the heck… we could be off on another adventure.

            The Agrarian reposed after dining
            With cigar and a glass so divining
            The dogs at his feet
            Twas a heartfelt retreat
            One absent of any man’s wining

            Tweak that or make one from whole cloth
            Please, and now don’t play the sloth
            You can rhyme if you like
            Or free verse while you hike
            But make it like light to a moth

  4. Over the morning coffee I penned today’s issue for the slam:

    For my spouse now a limerick I’ve written
    The subject of which is this kitten
    It’s an ugly wee beast
    And I like it the least
    Concerning me – it’s not terribly smitten

Any thoughts or questions?