Hot, Real Hot, Damn Hot
By Axie Barclay
It’s July, and in Michigan we’re steamy as ever. With all the water around us and the rainfall we’ve had this year; it feels like breathing water, or living in a swamp, as we’ve been known to accuse our beloved state. It’s difficult to be far from water here in the mitten, but after last year’s draught, I’ll never complain about rainfall again. I’ve always thought ol’ Mother Nature was a lot like Santa Claus, can see you when you’re sleeping and all that, only she’s also crossed with a vengeful old testament type God, armed with menopause and omnipotent control over the weather. Not someone I want to piss off.
With all this heat, water for humans, pets, and especially livestock, in our case, is vital. We’d made a smaller pasture for the cow herd with limited access to water and by the afternoon of their second day on that pasture, the water hole resembled a mud wrestling pit more than a lake of shining waters. (Points to those who caught the Anne of Green Gables reference.) The Offspring and I loaded up in the stroller, well he loaded, I pushed, and headed down to the pasture. It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s extremely uncomfortable out. It’s one of those days you ask yourself why in the world you try so hard, why you work for these cows, this lifestyle, and curse your ancestors for being farmers instead of some respectable occupation, like investment bankers. Where there is air conditioning.
This brings me to another farm story. (Bonus to those of you who love these and please bear with me those who grimly tolerate.)
It’s about 6:36 in the morning and I’m at my desk, thinking about waking up the baby for his morning bottle (yes, I actually have to wake my child up, please don’t hate me, he does it all on his own) when I hear a low moo way too close to the house.
I look out the kitchen window in time to see twenty-five black bodies jauntily jogging past the lilac bush in my front yard. I shove my bare feet into cowboy boots and rush outside in attire better suited to sleeping in hot weather than running around after cattle during the morning commute. The cows joyfully dash across the road to my grandma’s house and the herd splits, half going down the lane that leads to the back of the property and half into the barnyard. Now, the half that went down the lane, if they get far enough, can get onto the state owned property behind us and once down along the river, there isn’t a fence that would deter them from going all the way to Lake Michigan.
To risk stating the obvious, this would be bad.
Somehow, I managed to get and around the cows, and shouted at them to turn. Being the lovely, full-bodied, generous ladies that they are (not), they actually did. And because I was so tight on time, and still had to wake the baby, pack his stuff, get him ready for the babysitter and me ready for work, I didn’t have a whole lot of patience for the cows’ antics. Using the voice my mom calls the bull voice and my Spousal-Type Creature refers to as “the booming voice of death” and that the baby just looks at me with huge “oh shit” eyes, I told the cows as pleasantly as I could to “get your bleaping bleaps in the bleaping gate and don’t even bleaping think about going back to the bleaping road or I’ll bleap you up, you bleaping red bleaps. Get in the gate and go now.”
Surprisingly, they did.
And the Offspring and I were on time that day.
The moral of these two stories is that sometimes even if you’re doing what you love, in this case raising livestock, there’s always stuff that comes up that you won’t want to do. True character comes when you go out, suck it up, and do it anyway. Because really, both circumstances went well and could have been much worse. And I ended up with stories to share with you happy readers. Everybody wins.
Stay cool, everyone.
1. Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick – The best way to describe this book is a grownup Cinderella story with the fairy god… father?… being a cross between Calvin Klein and Willy Wonka. Why wouldn’t you read this book?
2. The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell – I’m addicted to podcasts so when I heard the author interviewed for her new work I Take You, on BookD, I had to check out the first book in her Bride series. Simply amazing, especially if you like thought-provoking erotic fiction and not dime-a-dozen erotic romances. I enjoy both, but having great prose and style can be as erotic as any love scene.
3. The Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews – When you’re standing out in your field and make a connection between your livestock and a book you’re reviewing, you know the book has gotten in your head. You also will never look at a water source the same again once you read Waltner-Toews book and realize that no matter how much hand sanitizer we use, we are all still constantly excreting and ingesting feces. But wow is it fascinating.
Axie Barclay is a Michigan writer with a cow-habit. Having discovered the joys and potential for growth inalternative agriculture, she quests ever longer and harder for ways to combine farming and writing into a business. When not milking cows, making disgruntled noises at the latest disgusting thing the heeler dogs dredge up, riding horses, or keeping the fence up around her small beef herd, she’s holed up reading an eclectic array of books or tapping out pages. When not working, she enjoys kicking back with her honey, family, and friends at a bonfire with some beers. Chat her up on Twitter and Facebook, /axieb, or http://barclayfarmsandlit.blogspot.com where she delves into literature and agriculture with a relish… and occasionally ketchup. Soon to be homemade.