The Rest of the Story
I know that any of you that have worked in cornfield beans will understand how they can irritate your skin, that is what happened to Clint in this story and he was really shook up when he came in with the red whelks on his neck. His comment was always, “Strong Like Bull” but he really was a pussy cat around many of the farm activities. Many cases it really was the fear of the unknown in his world and very understandable.
In the second story, my cousin, Betsy Herrell, was always bringing me tea, cookies, watermelon or other goodies when I was working around her house. Clint was not familiar with how the ladies took care of us men when we were outside working. Betsy’s comment to me had been, “what is the matter with Clint, I tried to bring him watermelon out in the field and he would not even stop”! I explained to her that he just did not understand how it worked out on the farm. Clint learned that lesson really quick!!
Clint’s Chronicles on the Funny Farm
I am always amazed by the notoriety arising from my adventures at Harrell Hill Farms. Wherever I roam folks point, gawk and question my veracity, wondering aloud if Farmer Clint’s mishaps are factual. Seeking a quiet meal at Western Sizzlin’ I hear, “Hey, I know you! Did you really plow someone’s yard?” … How embarrassing! At a local church the lady says, “Be careful of those ‘killer groundhogs’! …My manhood is ridiculed. On Facebook a friend suggests, “Harrell Hillians beware…it is springtime and Farmer Clint soon will be mounting the John Deere!” …I’d like to see him crawl out of the river only to be assaulted by snakes on all sides! … I can’t even escape at Wal-Mart, “Seen any coyotes, oops I mean yorkies, lately?” …When will it end?
As I reminisce about my agricultural prowess over the last year I am amazed that one man could survive so many near-misses with death on the farm. There are nights I awaken, terrified of “what might have been” yet thankful for God’s protective covering.
This month I want to share two short stories, more evidence of how easily things can go awry!
It was a sweltering summer day as Doug dispatched me to spray insecticide on rows of beans and tomato plants. While I don’t recall the exact name of the chemical, I believe it was first cousin to Agent Orange. Despite temperatures in the 90’s, my buddy insisted that I wear a ridiculous crepe suit, gloves and hat. Always compliant, I slithered my then fat self into the hunter’s green material, donned my farmer’s gloves and set out to eradicate the veggie cannibals.
I had the presence of mind to stand down-wind of the fine chemical mist so as not to drink too many of the tiny droplets. And spray I did…up and down…all around…bugs gasping for their last precious breath as I bobbed and weaved among the rows. Dodging pig weed, swarms of hornets and all manner of creepy crawly things I maneuvered throughout the vast garden. Mission accomplished.
Returning home that evening the skin on my neck was burning, tingling, and feeling as though a gazillion bees were feasting on my blood. As I looked in the mirror I noted what appeared to be a vast blister, better said leprosy! Alas, my life flashed before my eyes as I envisioned the end…surely the dastardly chemical mixture was expediting my trip to heaven. I scurried to the farmhouse kitchen, hoping only to bid farewell to Doug and Barbara.
Running headlong into my mountain-man friend, my eyes telegraphing terror and distress, he asked, “Pollard, what’s wrong with you?” I explain how I followed his instruction, “Doug, I wore the suit and gloves even though the heat was nearly exhausting. I even thought to stand upwind of the spray. But, as you see, my skin is being eaten from the outside in.”
That crooked smile and mischievous look, the one he always displays just before saying “Pollard, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with you,” that one…and he asked, “Uh, did you get tangled up in the beans?” Thinking back, I recounted how a couple times the corn row beans had wrapped their stringy vines around my neck, once nearly taking me to my knees. “You are allergic to the bean vine, lots of folks are,” Doug said. “Take a shower, dry it off and you’ll be okay in a couple days.” Snickering, having a bit too much fun in my opinion, my friend offered me a piece of cake. And I devoured it, thankful that God spared me death from the nuclear material.
I had been plowing, hoeing, raking and otherwise eating dust all day long. An extended dry spell plagued our mountain farm as Doug lovingly and painstakingly taught me the process of harvesting hay. I recently learned to lift and transport the round bales (a story for another day) and was returning to the barn with a fresh load.
As you know from previous musings, I love driving the tractorJ. Tooling along down Harrell Hill Road I “was one” with the land…content in my role as farm hand extraordinaire…privileged to captain the Kioti along our rural roads.
I’m telling ya, this was a hot day and I’d had no water in a few hours (Doug doesn’t give me breaks L). As I rounded the bend I saw a lovely lady standing at the intersection of Harrell Hill Road and Byrd Road. Drawing near I recognized Betsy, Doug’s cousin and my friend. Her arm was extended as though flying a kite, but I quickly noticed that instead she was waving a piece of watermelon.
As I passed by, I could nearly taste the succulent, dripping, cool red melon. And I wondered aloud, “Why is Betsy standing there waving a slice of watermelon? Such unusual customs in these mountains.” Nevertheless, I smiled, tipped my Farmer Clint hat as a gentlemanly gesture, and went to deposit the hay. All the while wishing I could figure out a way to finagle that watermelon from Betsy.
A week or so later Doug remarked, “You owe Betsy an apology.” I searched the cobwebs of my mind to comprehend what I possibly could have done to offend this wonderful woman. “What did I do now?” I whined. Once again, his eyes two mischievous marbles, my friend explained, “Betsy tried to flag you down for some watermelon last week and you just drove by and waved.”
Immediately I went on the attack, defensive to the extreme I proclaimed, “Now look, I don’t know the rules of etiquette here. What was I supposed to do? You know I like Betsy, and you know I like watermelon. What you don’t know is that I WANTED Betsy’s watermelon! But how was I to know she wanted to share with me? It just didn’t seem right to stop and say, ‘Hi Betsy, may I please have your watermelon!’ Or what if I had leaped from the tractor and said, ‘Gimme that watermelon Betsy!’” Bursting into laughter my friends Doug and Barbara nearly died at the hilarity of that vision.
That was an important day, though, in my education at Harrell Hill Farms. What I learned is that on the farm virtually every gesture has meaning, and every movement has purpose beyond what is apparent.
A few days later I apologized to Betsy for my faux pas. “That’s okay,” she said. “There’s always another day and another watermelon.” So, if you’re new here and don’t know what to do, remember…never fly by a lovely lady waving watermelon in your directionJ!