Friday, January 30, 2015

A Farmer's Tale

Fri Jan 30, 2015

I didn't tell you about the fact that one day I'd come into the barn and there would not be any time to play. I would be all business. Might have with me a stranger to help lift you into the pickup. One summer of life. Remember how we played together? You would rear up, play that you were gonna charge, rout me, send me flying. And then your buddy would get into the act. I called you Blacky and Whitey. I had to call you something. You are white, the other is black. While you were rearing up your buddy Blacky was tearing around me, jumping up all of a sudden, all four feet off the ground. Then I gave you extra grain, the most amazing tasting cracked corn you loved to eat. So you gobbled that down, and then we'd play some more.

Do you remember the first time I brought you home, you little devils? It was July. The garden was planted. Some of the early crops were going into giant salads. We are not much for animals as we used to be: four goats, four laying hens. We used to have dozens of both, cows and pigs too. Somebody on the Internet was selling lambs. In summer we used to raise animals for sale and meat. These lambs were cheaper than usual, fire sale lambs. Maybe a good buy. And that was where I got you, Whitey. You were a little fuzz ball, and so was your brother. Once I caught you, you seemed to snuggle in my arms, remember, old fool? Your brother, too. You had good size, your brother, not so good. But it was a deal I could not resist. The woman who helped me catch you in the field was pregnant. I didn't think it was such a good idea pregnant as she was to be running around after lambs. She tripped, fell to her knees once, laughed it off. I brought you home in little crates in the back of the pickup. First I put you in a small pen near the house, so to watch you and your brother. Your brother was so small, so cute. We tried this and that to get him going. He seemed to gain after awhile. I put you both into the big pen. You were so small in that big pen. Plenty of goodies near the ground to eat, the kind of thing you guys like to munch on. Got up early the next morn to do my usual thing. Could not find you guys. Where had you gone? Then: rats! I had left the gate open. Not only had I obviously not shut the gate, I couldn't remember ever opening it. I looked all over the neighborhood. I didn't figure you could have gone far. I searched high and low. Sunshine, my dog, was out with me. My heart was broken. I thought of any number of wild animals happening upon you, not to mention $150 down the tubes. Then I heard my wife shouting in the distance. "They're in the pen, you nut." I went back to the pen, and there you were Whitey, you and your brother, in the brush where I could not see you; not lost at all. Then your brother, who had been sickly, died. Remember how heart broken you were? Ah, old pal, you looked so sad standing over him who was dead. You did get some mad when I took his poor lifeless body away. But that's when I brought Blacky home, a new buddy for you to romp around with. And so you did, all through the late summer and fall and early winter. We did not get deep snow till late. You and Blacky were always outside the barn romping around in the snow, digging for a last delicious root, and playing, forever, little light hearted fools. I don't know why I never told you about the rest of it. It was a stressful day, I wasn't feeling well. At least your pen at the butcher's was large enough so you could both go in. But you looked up at me quizzically. The lady said you never knew what hit you. I had a couple of chops last night. Taste kind of good. Nobody I know in Maine is rich enough to enjoy lamb very often. It's a treat. Nothing like it. Usually I square with you guys in the beginning. Funny. This time I forgot.

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