We all know the cliched pictures of farmers in overalls sitting on the front porch of a dilapidated shack, whittlin something, spitting tobacco juice into a can between them, and talking about the weather.
I can’t explain the whittling or spitting, but the weather…
As a farmer the one thing I’ve come to love more than almost anything else is a soft, steady, soaking rain. Rain makes grass grow. Grass makes cattle grow. Cattle make chirruns grow…
The cliched word picture above doesn’t depict the farmers’ worry about rain, though. He needs it constantly and, of course, worries it won’t come timely or enough.
Farmer’s don’t often have to worry about floods.
Maybe we should, though.
Our counties – Lawrence and Wayne – are known for little. Our accomplishments top out at quartet signing and a concrete bridge over the Tennessee river.
We do, however, excel in floods. Flash floods, they say, kill more folks around here than meth, car wrecks, and spontaneous combustion combined.
It’s the hills and hollers. When the rain hits, all that water runs downhill in a hurry. As it’s funnelled from little hollers into bigger, it builds strength and all of the sudden we’re standing by orange cones, wearing red do-rags, staring at a hole that used to be the road.
Believe it or not, that hole is deeper than the picture shows, plus there’s a six-foot tall metal culvert buried at the bottom with water still rushing through it.
This was official farm business, so we couldn’t stay long, though. This hole in the road was on our way to hunt a pig since our usual route was washed out.
Wright received a call last night, mid monsoon. An acquaintance reported sighting one of our pigs in her front yard. Yesterday we put our three Hereford sows in the woods with the other pigs. Wright was betting the rogue porker was the one that had ‘lost respect for the fence’.
When we pulled up to the neighbor’s yard there was no pig in sight. Talk about feeling lost. You’ve gotta somehow corral an animal that you first have to find in an area the size of, well, the entire outdoors.
Just then we heard a grunt and saw a large forsythia bush shake Check This Out. This bush was across our neighbor’s driveway from an apple tree that was busy dropping apples. The shake turned into a rumble and then the bush ejected a pig. Against all laws of pigdom, probability, and contrariness, that pig walked over numerous apples and came right to me.
She sat down in front of me, like a dog sits. Then she opened her mouth and panted like a dog. She then reached up one hoof, gingerly scratched my leg and said, “Please sah may I have some corn?” in a perfect Cockney accent.
Who was I to argue?
I grabbed the bucket of pig food out of the truck bed, walked around to the back of the trailer, opened the door, and poured pig food on the trailer floor as I entered it. The pig calmly followed me around to the back of the trailer and stopped. Suddenly she stood upright on her hind legs, gingerly reached out with a foreleg, scooped up a bit of the corn, tasted it, said, “That’ll do”, and hopped into the trailer.
I was speechless.
Wright seemed unaffected. He just shut the trailer door then let me out of the trailer.
I returned the bucket to the back of the truck and then stopped.
“Wright did any of that seem weird to you?”
“Yea, he said, I don’t know why that pig wanted corn when there were all those apples on the ground.”