Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?

Growing up in suburban Youngstown, Ohio, I didn't really learn too much about nature and the Great Outdoors other than my hiking in Yellow Creek Park out to Hamilton Lake. Sure, I did a lot of fishing in my youth and some hunting, but nothing prepared for for the rural life that awaited me in the late 80's, when I moved to North Central Ohio. Podunk wasn't a good enough name for this place. I think their were more dirt and gravel roads than motorized vehicles.

Other than The Canfield Fair, The Mahoning County's agricultural fair, I had never even seen any farm animals, up close and personal. outside of a vegetable garden in the back yard, I didn't know squat about crops and the effort it took to plant, fertilize, nurture, and harvest bountiful acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. The only Alfalfa I knew was on the Little Rascals.

For about a year, I rented a small house that overlooked a five acre pond, set in the middle of a huge farm of several hundred acres. To me, it was an ideal setting. Previous to this place, I could always hear my neighbors flush their toilets. Ahhhhh, the peace and quiet! I had moved there in late Winter, little did I know what would befall me when the growing season commenced. I was surrounded on three sides by crop fields and by mid-March, the tractors were roaring by the house pretty much 24/7 until the fields were tilled and the crops planted. This usually took until late May.

About 5 feet from my bedroom window was a four foot high pasture fence. I never paid much attention to it or the large pasture that led to a barn about 300 yards away. One morning, I was blasted out of bed by the loudest MOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I had ever heard in my life. Yeah, that's right, a cow was straining hard against the fence to reach my window to let me know it was time to get my City Ass out of bed! At first, all I could do was run around in circles in my bedroom. After the cobwebs cleared out of my brain, I finally realized what the hell was going on and had a good laugh. I proceeded to have a talk with the farmer who owned the pasture and he agreed not to let the cows into that pasture so early in the morning. Maybe my telling him I was from Youngstown and I'd hate to put a contract out on his cow had something to do with it.

Near the end of Summer, I noticed the same cow laying down in the grass about 10 feet from the fence. Gee, I thought, there sure are a lot of flies on that poor cow. I walked up to the fence and realized the cow was dead. I called the farmer up to give him the bad news and he asked me to jump over the fence and physically check to make sure the cow wasn't breathing. Apparently, he didn't trust this City Slicker. I obliged him and high jumped over the fence, only to land in a large cow pie that was plopped down right in my landing zone. This of course, made me lose my balance and I promptly fell on to my back, in you guessed it, MORE cow pies! Naturally, I had just got off work and still had my dress clothes on. There was even cow poop on my tie! I dutifully went over to the cow to make sure it was not breathing. I lifted it's front leg and was able to turn the cow over like I was using a long-handled jack. Yep, it was dead all right.

Don't get me wrong, the place did have it's charms. It was built in the 1840's and I actually saw the property deed that was written on sheep skin and signed my President James K. Polk. The support beams were cut with an axe and the floors were made of Ironwood, which can't be found today. I learned all about Ironwood after ruining two Circular Saw blades by cutting out a small section of damaged floor. The best part of the property was the pond. Heavily stocked with Pan Fish and Small and large-mouth Bass. There was nothing like coming home after a long, hard day, cracking open an iced-cold beer and "Dippin' a Line" for an hour or so. You were almost guaranteed to catch something, even though I never kept what I caught. It never failed to wind me down after a stressful day.



  1. Great Post, Tom.

    My wife and I are actually building right now on a 3 1/2 acre piece of land 8 miles outside of our "hectic" town of 10,000 (30,000 when the WSU students are here). So - we're going from urban rural (town in the middle of a wheat field) to ultra rural (HOUSE in the middle of a wheat field)

    I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet you shared about, and it's only going to be a 10 minute commute on a nicely paved country!

    Thanks to you, I'll be on the lookout for cow pies! :)