Sunday, November 10, 2013

Milk and Mud

The real thing. The true staff of life. Touch it!

                   So you have decided to come out to the barn with me? You’ll need these boots. There have been eight inches of rain just lately. I’d give you gloves too, if you’d take them. I have observed that for many people mud is a drawback. My wife has me come in the back door. She has a rubber mat set out in the back hallway. I kick off my boots before I get inside. Then I put my boots carefully on the rubber mat, even before my poor body comes inside. No matter. She says the mud smears and spreads. Oh, she does carry on. I’m sure you’ll hear about it. Shows disrespect, so she claims. Never heard that much about it before we were married. I always was a muddy boots, dirty hands critter. That was just thirty some years ago.
      I guess people are inclined to change concerning their opinions. And Lord knows the smell of sweat these days seems unfashionable. I’m inclined to think that folks aren’t interested in working where there may be dirt and sweat around, as if it was unhealthy. I can’t see how mud and dirt can be unhealthy. You don’t stick your fingers in your mouth, do you? I’ve heard explained that the smell of a goat in the rut is invigorating. It does tend to stick to whatever it touches; like a good vagabond, it gets around. I personally think the smell would be all right if it was toned down. But a lot of things seem okay when they are toned down.
     You got those boots on by now? There you are. You might want to figure out something to do while you’re here. Just a theory. Wonder what you might think. Might be a bit of a shock to the average city fellow...
     ...what? Oh that’s just a slug. What can you do? This much rain they come out of everywhere, and apt to get into everything. I’ve considered doing a study. No way to get rid of them, I imagine, without killing a good bit of the rest of nature besides. I’ve found that to be true generally. Mother nature is stubborn about her ways. Damage one part of her one where and another part of her elsewhere tends to kick about it.
     ...now, as I was saying, might be a bit of a shock walking into a place—that is if you’re not used to it—where any damned thing can happen. I suppose you might say it could be amusing if you’d let it be. For instance, how can you know what you’ll be doing from one minute to the next? It’s a sort of Shangri-La of fuzzy details. The details may even be surprising. I’ve heard that described as an interesting way to carry on. What’s next? You get up each day wondering. Then you take care of whatever is necessary. Might be enjoyable, I guess, if that’s your object in life. A little something interesting every day.

Berry and Lady. They are the old girls. They were born in this barn
and they will die in this barn.

    Oh, that’s just the girls bellowing. They want to be fed and milked. No, they’re not suffering. No, they’re not pregnant. They are just good, sturdy, healthy, fat goats—like The Bible recommends.
     I guess we might as well start chores, before we end up with a stampede. Berry and Lady, those two taking a rest, are past being freshened and they are in peaceful decline, as they say: not a worry in the world, unless in consideration of mortality. Since they can’t freshen, there’s no milk in their udders, and they don’t get on the milking stand.
     First I grain the whole herd, and they dive in for their share. But the others get grain on the stand also. Once they get grain, they get hay. You can put out the hay. Don’t be cheap! Put out some hay for the girls. Here, Moon. Come here. Here, maybe you’d like to try milking? Think not? Oh, you’d prefer working with a closed system? My, you’re a humorous fellow. Oh, no a goat’s udder is certainly not what you’d call a closed system, if there is any such thing. No dust in the transistors?
     Now that’s hard to imagine! Your transistor is just a small barn, to my way of thinking. It’s like everything else. When you can figure out what’s gonna happen, everybody wins. But when does such a happening come about? Other how you’re stuck with the dust in the best of plans. ...Calm down, Moon. You wouldn’t mind handing me a cup of that grain, would you? I think a smart fellow can have a general idea, nothing specific, what’s gonna happen. But only to a point. Why just last winter, we were proceeding along smartly when our prize milker, Circle, apparently healthy, suddenly keeled over and dropped dead. No! Wind and sun are into everything, if for good or ill, whether visible to us or no. They are in the dust and the shadows. Everywhere! Why should you be surprised by mortality, if you aren’t surprised by an udder with milk in it? I wonder that God might have done that a little better, given us a clue about what’s gonna happen, you know, maybe he did but we’re too blind to see it. Just the other day nature came to visit in the eye of that young milker. The eye became inflamed pustular, and it closed tight. When life has gone awry and they are sore and confused, goats will approach and complain softly. Nature may be unkind: a protruding branch, a spiny plant, an impatient comrade, namely myself, who happened to be on the upswing with a pitchfork. An accident happens hardly noticeable. But it has to be tended to. Don’t you see, young fellow, a little direct, objective observation...you can’t turn your back on it. Why would you want to?
     To get “clear of that crap?” What crap? Nothing’s crap.
     What is that faint, mysterious shadow on the northwest horizon? I expect it should be stormy tomorrow. A world of rain has made early haying hard going. I have surmised that the grasshoppers will be worse by far this summer. If no second crop this year, milk production will fall off early. Now there’s plenty to think about. Milk in the bucket! No, I suppose it won’t launch a white rocket to the stars.
     Well then, before we give much consideration to the stars and the white rocket, let’s clean up the place a bit. You take that pitchfork, and I’ll take this, and push in the wheel barrow. We’ll clean up this pen, move the manure into the pile outside. It may take an half-hour or so. You’re sweating? It’s good exercise. Just as well. It puts the mind into focus; it puts roots on your reasonings. If the reasonings have been held up overlong, or are vague or unreal, once they touch ground in the sun, suddenly they vanish. Why would you want to expend even a few hours on an unclear idea? Sweating is good for you. You’ve had enough? You’d rather be inside? You take this as a waste of time! Really? Well, some books, I think, put the mind in such a strain it feels good to get away. I prefer outside. Still, when I’m outside too long, I wish I was inside; but when I am inside too long, I wish I was outside.
     Well, go inside if you wish. Read that good book you’ve brought with you. And work on your computer, too. But be sure to knock the mud off your boots before you go in. The better half is hell on the world’s mud, and it seems it has been raining for the last two weeks, and more to come I expect. Might get ready for it if I can.
   
Can this be what old mortality looks like?


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