Monday, June 25, 2012

Suspended Between Two Worlds - Farm / City

Once I was a real farm girl.
It never even came into my head that I would take over the farm.  That was the son’s duty.  My father never took the time to teach me about tilling the fields and harvesting.  I knew the basics…milking, feeding the cows and in general, hauling my ass double time shoveling oats, corn, manure and tossing hay bales. It was another time.

It turned out I, not my brother, was the one with the love of animals and the country…still it did not matter.  Then again - maybe that was the matter.
At that time, girls did not take over family farms…at least in our area.

So the farm went the way of many farms these days – sold off- the children now city dwellers.
And yet…

The city wears on people.  The people in a city wear on people.  Where do you go if you need  act like a loon and sing to the stars some evening?   And so the circle comes back round.

The farm / city girl longs for the simpler life, the countryside, open space, animals.

She does not long for the horribly humid, 98 degree haymow, long hours toiling loading and unloading hay and feed, exhaustion – the mind numbing repetitive milking of cows every morning and every night - the stench of manure that permeates your clothes and skin – or the reality of farming.

As I drove back from work the other day, I saw a cow down on her side.  it was bloated and not moving.  I drove back to the farmers’ house to let him know – even though I had a strong suspicion he already did.  With a farm background, it is what you do…same if you see cows out on the road.

As soon as I entered the open garage leading to the inside door, I was transported back in time by the familiar scent – a cow pee, manure and whatever else mixture.   Eggs were stacked on their trays right by the steps.  The garage was full of gasoline and oil cans and greased and blackened tools of all kinds, old farm coats hanging on pegs.  The farmer opened the door, a medium small dog hugging next to his leg.  Yes, they had just come from trying to raise the cow with their loader, but to no effect.  I nodded and said I just wanted to be sure they had seen her, gave him my sympathy about losing a cow and left. 
He thanked me for stopping.
Reality.

Could I have been a farmer?  I saw my share of death on the farm.  Your heart has to have a shell of reality around it.  I had that for a time when I was young.  It is still there when needed.  Farming is all about bringing new life in the world, nurturing it, harvesting – death being ever present one way or another.  The circle of life.
Yes, physically I could have handled it - but could my soul have managed it for long? 

No, what I want is that little bubble of fantasy you see in bucolic farm paintings.

A picturesque shingled house, with chicken roaming free in the yard, foxgloves framing the yard, cows and sheep grazing in the nearby wooded fields – perhaps a dog alert to a visitor coming up the lane.  A cat roaming the high grass for its prey, keeping the home safe from ugly rats and pesky gopher.  Meats all packaged nice, neat and guilt free in the grocery store down the road.  A garden full of green, fragrant tomatoes, peas, corn and sunflowers.  Birds (no sparrows and a mockingbird that sings only during the day) flirting about.  Fog encrusted mornings turning into bright sunshine days, a perfect 74 degree day.  No need to go to work…work is taking photos and creating beautiful cards that customers clamor for.

 Oh…and of course, in this fantasy, I win the lottery!

Ahhh, to dream.