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. . .a Farmer's Lament
"Just me and my 'dirt tombs' . . ."
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"Just who am I," you ask . . .
My name's not important. So that's why I don't introduce myself to you, and besides, what would it matter anyway? You'd just nod, smile, maybe shake my dirty hand, and agree with most anything I had to say. Then take your curious-minded family and head on down the road. I can't say as I blame you. Not much to see here in these "dirt tombs," that I call my fields. Just me, Jesus, and my tractor. Oh, the wife's been gone for about fifteen years. She got purely fed-up with not having anything fit for company, and just left one day. Good thing we didn't have any kids. I have enough to answer for.
I'm doing now what my father did and his father before him did. And that ain't fancy. That's called farming. Time was, pardon me while I get a drink of this spring water, thanks. That was good. Now where was I? Oh yeah . . .farming used to be a job of importance. A job that folks looked up to and paid the man behind the mule some respect. Don't ask me what happened. I don't know. All I do know is that I wish I had a sensible reason why I still do this meaningless job. Meaningless. That's all it is. Just me, Jesus, and my tractor. And no reflection on Jesus, sometimes I think He's not that interested in what I do either.
And who would? Having to get up, no matter the weather, rain, shine, hail, or scorching sun, to just plant, with what faith I have left, that the seeds I put into this worn-out piece of ground, will come up green in the fall. A few times they didn't. I guess those were the times that "Maggie," my wife of 22 years, had suffered enough.
She left in the dead of night and I didn't see her scratched-out note on a piece of brown Piggly Wiggly grocery bag, setting on the eating table, until I had my coffee on that dark January morning. I swore when I looked out my dingy kitchen window panes, that I saw Death himself standing under my big Oak tree yonder in the front yard. And he was glaring through the fog at me just waiting for me to fire-up my tractor in that run-down barn so he could run me through with that sharp sickle he carries with him.
Why does life have to be so hard sometimes? Take me for example. I come from a Christian home with a Christian mama, and my papa, well he tried to do right, but he did love a "taste" home homemade liquor now and then. But when I got to be a man and left home for the Army, I had a feeling when I got on that train that foggy morning in town to head to some Army base for training, that life wouldn't treat me the same when I did get back to my private life. Mama cried when I waved goodbye. Papa just looked like he had rather not know me at the time. He never did tell me he loved me. Not at all. His dad was like that too. No heart.
Crops come. Crops go. So that applies to friends too. And a few neighbors who just gave up and left the rest of us who was married to the dirt in order to get up each day the Good Lord give us and live. Mostly, the neighbors who'd been toughened by life and the dust storms it brings, stayed around. I see them at times plowing their miserable fields that are like mine, over-the-limit and give way too much to people's stomach's already. But we keep on. Getting up at daylight. Working like a fool 'til dark. Wishing the Good Lord would call us home. We all know that somewhere a little child is hungry. And it's up to us, or used to be up to us, to feed him. So he can live and get strong. Maybe take over a big company someday. Just because a few people and myself got up those extra mornings before the rooster. Went a few more hours without any supper. And drew a mournful sigh that only the Good Lord heard, when the day (longer than Hades' time clock) was finally over.
Not long go my government did something that not even my preacher can figure out. A government man rolled up on my friend, "Johnny Brewster's" property and took out a clipboard with a lot of papers-a blowing back and forth in the Kansas wind, and talked "Johnny" into not growing any crops. At all. And the government man said another senseless thing, that he would pay "Johnny" to just let his ground be. Never heard of our Washington men and women acting so desperate for us farmers to not provide them and others in the world with food to eat. But . . .if you, my friend, can figure out the brains of the government people, then you are not cut out to be standing here with me in this hot sun talking about a thankless job done by a bunch of faceless people to help a world of nameless masses with one more meal to eat, you need to be in Washington, doing something good for a good and noble job. Farming. And men other than me, who have lost more than a few crops, but their dignity at not being able to work in their own dirt to make something good. Not for another star in their personal heaven, but for the wisdom of truth that they have made someone else's belly a little less hungry.
Thanks for bring the spring water out to me. If you ain't got anymore questions, then I got to get back to this last few acres of corn. Somebody's bound to need it when times get worse.