Sunday, October 02, 2011

Where Have You Been?

The beginning of the best summer of my life started, as you have read, with tears. I was crying, I was hysterical. I had nowhere to go and nowhere to turn because I had hit a financial rock bottom. I've worked hard all my life, and people who work hard don't hit financial ruin, now do they?

But I did.

In an attempt to take my mind off this financial ruin, I began milking cows in my spare time. Because apparently a degree in Sociology won't do it for a person and sometimes you have to go back to where you started out in order to figure out where you really need to go.

And there I was, working my butt off, covered in sweat, dirty like I've never been dirty before in my life. I've been tromped on, shoved around, kicked by the hooves of a thousand Holsteins. I've been given eye infections, hand infections, arm rashes, and the odd back ache.

The first time I milked with The Farner, I about died. Would he judge my sweaty grossness? Would he judge my technique? What would we talk about? What if I dropped the dip cup? What if I killed one of his cows?

And I guess he was thinking the same thing because the pair of us became such a couple of bumbling idiots that the first several times we milked together, cows got loose and other cows were neglected; dip cups were dropped and we bumped into each other; I had debris on my face and he had debris on his face and neither of us could muster the courage to mention to the other that this debris existed at all.

The entire months of May and June passed us by and he finally asked me if I would go to fireworks with him on the first of July. Several awkward and strange dates were to follow before we played out the first verse of this song in our own strange, shy kind of way.

The rest of our summer was played out in much the same fashion. There has been a cheesy country song to match just about every one of our dates, including the one where I spent the entire time sitting on the tire of a Hesston 6550 in the field behind the barn. Or the one where we sat out on the riverbank watching shooting stars until two in the morning. Or the other one, where we climbed up in the hay mow and I screamed when a spider the size of my head descended inches from my face.

Saturday morning crop walks have become the highlight of my week, where we walk with my hand in his enormous, farmer-y, calloused one to see if things are ready to be harvested or not. At first I thought these walks were just a ploy to spend time with me. How sweet! But it turns out, this is actually a part of the process of farming. I routinely get asked to walk about four hundred metres into a field of corn and bring him back a few ears. (Because corn does not come in pods. It comes in ears. Peas come in pods and farmers get cranky when their equipment breaks down and their pods of peas go bad, but that is another entry altogether.)

The weather has cooled down some now. We spend more of our time in the grain room, on a makeshift couch made of feed bags. We talk every day after milking, about the things that don't really matter. Occasionally, we talk about the things that really do matter.

I've spent the end of summer begging the end not to come, but I can't really control the seasons. There are vast differences between this fall and the last two I've faced and despite my crankiness at the change in the weather I'm looking forward to every next day.

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