A few days spent at the farm always offer some different perspectives on life.
Rustic, rural and slow-paced always come to mind, but bucolic, meaning relating to the pleasant aspects of country life, is a favorite.
But oddly enough, when we get to the farm in rural Montgomery County, Missouri, to enjoy the slower pace, it always seems that there is something urgent that needs to be done.
That’s because there are things that may only need to be done a couple of times year, but when they are due, they are due immediately. Hay needs to be baled soon after it is cut. Cattle have their babies on their own timelines — day or night. Crops need to go in when the weather is nice. They need to come out when their time is due. During all this, there is no scheduling the rain, which falls whenever it falls with no regard for schedules.
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And weeds? It seems weeds never sleep. Rust either, but that’s a different problem.
For many years, the garden at the farm has been the pride and joy of the chief farmer, my father-in-law. He planted and harvested many bushels of produce of all kinds. Even dog-tired from working all day, he would till his garden to perfection before going to bed.
We know he doesn’t care about much now, because he never says anything about the big patch of weeds out back where we try to make a garden each year. It always starts with promise and good intentions, but when we can’t be there to attend to it all the time, it becomes a jungle.
We salvaged some cabbages and a few onions, I think, before everything disappeared under the dense foliage. What is hidden in there does seem to be a big attraction for some bluebirds so we haven’t just mowed it off. I’m pretty sure there are some potatoes out there but a recent expedition failed to uncover where they might have been.
Meanwhile the cattle adventures continue. When a momma cow died giving birth, my son couldn’t find the baby at first. He finally tracked it down with the rest of the herd, trying to steal some milk from the other mommas. It was weak but had followed the other cows clear to the other end of the place, almost a mile away.
So it became a bottle baby, bedding down with some chickens in a pen and drinking milk starter twice a day. It is one of my mother-in-law’s pure joys to be able to baby a little one like that. This one didn’t survive, but there have been others, and some of them are still producing new babies each year.
Farming is a battle with nature and sometimes you can’t win. It can be discouraging.
I think the trick is to enjoy the days of rewards, not matter how slight, more than the days of disappointment. It’s not an easy job but it is just another farm chore.