Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On the farm that Jack built

Well we’re broke down. Again. If anyone out there in blogger world knows how to keep the cutter bar on a John Deere 1209 mower conditioner from snapping right off the arm despite there being no obvious obstructions to the bar, please contact me. And I really mean that. We’re at wit’s end about it. Dad used this mower for years and has only had to replace the cutter bar when it wore out. Last year and this year we’ve fixed it at least six or eight times, just from it snapping. We’ve welded the bar, got new ones, nothing seems to work. There’s no obvious thing in the way or catching the bar, not even a goddamn rock to blame it on. We’re getting a trifle miffed. So if anyone’s dealt with this and has some wise words of wisdom, please send some wisdom our way.

Other than that, it’s been the first time I ever remember freezing my ass off while cutting hay. It’s in the low sixties here and if it was February we’d all be sweating. Guess it’s all in what you’re used to.

So to dispel my bitching, I figured I’d post another poem today and end if not on a happier note than at least on a poetic one. The lines aren't coming out just right, but you get the idea.

On the farm that Jack built

This is after I learned to tag cattle and castrate calves, after I learned to change oil in the tractor and after I shot the raccoon.
This is after my mother left me for an oil tycoon and after my best friend got married and went to Iraq a week later.
This is after my grandpa died and left us all spinning on heel, wondering what to do with grandma (get her a dog, what else?)

It’s a hot day in Phoenix, but not in Michigan where I’m hauling buckets of grain out to the feedlot calves,
five where I used to feed forty, and try to water the bulls, one where there used to be six or seven.
The snow creaks and groans beneath my feet like an old man without his arthritis medication and whose cane’s been kicked out from under him.
Its cold to breathe, ice burning lungs when the wind rushes in your mouth, like it means to take you over from the inside out.

The bay horse tries to paw my dog again, using his front feet like a mustang, while the ram we
got for free last year—
(just so you know, there is no such thing as a free ram, or a free dog, or even a free plant for that
The free ram chases the cow in heat around, ignoring the ewes as usual, who chase the ram, who chases the cow that loves the bull that humps the ram that lives in the house that Jack built. (Okay so I need to get out more. Its not the first time my dad has been right.)

Ice chunks the size of a boot shift against each other in the stock tank. Curses fall from my mouth like frost, damning the frozen hose and water hydrant.
The wind sucks my breath and all the feeling from my hands as I unscrew the hose from faucet,
ice forming under my fingernails.
The old dog hobble-runs to the car as I wave him over. Too deaf to hear anything lower than a
bull horn, he does good with sign language.
The dogs and I go for coffee while the hose thaws and the ram chases the bull who wants the
cow who… oh never mind. This is all after that.