Thursday, May 24, 2007

The things you forget...

I worked dilligently on my garden again today, until the sweat was pouring down over my body and my earphones were oozing lazily out of their comfortable position in my ears. I worked until I choked on the dust in the barn, with such fervor that in my haste, I actually forgot about the four years worth of spider webs that now line the corners of my calf pens. As a result I did NOT break into hives worrying about the creepy-crawly things that might take up residence somewhere on my person.

The pens are now dazzlingly clean and delightful to look at, empty of any memory that remains of the last calves I shipped after the Mad Cow Crisis occurred. As I recall, the second last batch of calves I sent went for fifty-two and fifty-four cents per pound. When I got my checks from the sale barn, my father shook his head and tossed the invoice on the counter. I recall sitting at the table in my barn clothes, looking at that stupid document that I felt had the power to rule my life. We called the truck the following week to sell the last two calves long before they should have been sold, because at those prices it wasn't even worth the sweat on our backs to continue.

I don't remember the last time I cleaned my pens out. I suppose that because the sale of my last calves was hasty, I never thought to stop and remember the last fork full of shit I would toss into a wheelbarrow. I'm sure that I was sweating, cursing, perhaps singing along with the radio. The barn would have had plenty of other cows in it, and my horse Modgie would have been watching me from his stall. Perhaps my nephew was napping in the house, perhaps Dixie was sniffling about the barn looking for something really, really smelly to roll around in. That's what hounds do, after all. They find disgusting things to roll in and then they cuddle up to you on the couch while you watch Dr. Phil.

Today's pen-cleaning was entirely optimistic, and not at all sad and wistful like I feared it would be. The organic matter (Isn't that a polite way to discuss cow manure? To refer to it as organic matter? Aren't I brilliant?) was completely dry so that its weight was reduced to almost nothing. There were no calves to wrestle with as I worked from pen to pen, no worries that a crazed bull calf would make good his escape and terrorize everything else that was in the barn. My father and I discussed some plans for some things that may or may not ever come to fruition. But it was fun to be in the barn, him and I leaning on forks, discussing the best way to do this and that.

As a courtesy to SuperNan I decided to shower my soaking wet, sweaty self before we went to radiation, and as I stood in the shower I looked down in wonder at the streams of mud that were flowing off my legs and into the drain. It has been far, far too long since I have worked, actually worked until my body ached and my shoulders burned. As I scrubbed away the filth that coated my limbs, I grinned like a big, stupid fool into the stream of water that hit my face because My God, I am starting my life. My hands are blistered, my muscles ache, there is sun on my face -- and I am creating my life.

[Gardening, Vegetables, Bull Calves, Farming, Mad Cow Crisis]

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