The Rest of The Story
This is undoubtable one of the funniest stories Farmer Clint ever wrote. I remember the first time he told me about grabbing his clothes and running to hide behind the church in Harrell Hill. I must have laughed for ten minutes. Your sides will be hurting from laughter when you finish.
Among the many things I learned while living at Harrell Hill Farms is that the term “day-off” doesn’t exactly mean “day-OFF”. Rather, it’s a day when we slept until 5:30 am vs. 4:30 am and the chores had more to do with family and less to do with commerce.
Totally oblivious to the “day-off” phenomenon, I had dreamed that perhaps on Saturday morning I would sneak down to Rock Creek for a bit of trout fishing. Farmer Doug, Miss Barbara and I had a long and arduous week tilling, weeding, pruning, fertilizing, harvesting and generally farming. As you might expect, I also had dodged many near-death experiences with various species of killer critters and farm equipment gone haywire. So I was ready to wade in the cool river and entice a large rainbow into my net.
The day began, like so many others, with a tall, steaming stack of buckwheat pancakes lovingly crafted by Farmer Doug. And I must admit that I slathered on a pound of butter and topped ‘em off with a quart of molasses – perhaps a slight exaggeration but not by much. I mused that Doug’s pancakes likely bore a close resemblance to the manna God showered on the Israelites in the desert…they are “to die for!”
As we gathered around the kitchen island, prayers were offered for the bounty of God’s provision and thanks given for our families and loved ones. Barbara would talk about her “list”, a very loooooong and meticulous litany of things she needed done; Doug would bring up the 5,319 things he had for us to do; and I would tremble in anticipation of how I might break something or accidentally kill myself J.
It’s not enough to manage a HUGE household with children and grandchildren and great grandchildren spilling out every door and window…and a HUGE farm with more chores to do in a day than the entire National Guard could accomplish. My friends, the Harrells also looked after their aging parents and neighbors along that hallowed tract of land called Harrell Hill.
During my tenure as “Farmer Clint in-training” I also surmised that being a farmer’s wife is more like being head-honcho of the hacienda! And no one worked harder than Barbara Harrell at caring for others. For example, she mowed so many others’ lawns that she could easily hang a Harrell Hill Lawn & Garden shingle from her lawnmower shed. There was her own yard, and grandmother and daddy d’s yard, and her mama’s yard, and the shoulders running alongside Byrd Road, and the cemetery, and the church yard and heaven only knows where else. On this particular “day-off” Doug and I made plans to attack Barbara’s “list”.
I knew Barbara had an incredibly hectic day ahead, picking up grandkids, going to Sam’s Club for a railroad car filled will groceries, and checking-up on the parents. So I suggested that she let me mow the church yard. She was thrilled and quickly accepted my offer. Selfishly, I thought to myself, “This is a SAFE venture for me; I know how to mow grass and run a weed eater.” I mean, how much danger could there be in mowing a lawn…especially a church lawn.
I mounted the John Deere mower and began my trek down Byrd road, mowing the shoulder as I whistled a happy tune. ‘Twas a beautiful day to be alive. “I’ll make Barbara proud,” I thought, as my mind had visions of the fish I would later hook.
I decided to begin by trimming the long grass alongside the cemetery fence which stretches behind the church. If you’ve never stood at the back of Pleasant Grove Church of the Brethren, perched high atop Harrell Hill, you’ve missed a spectacular sight. It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful vistas on planet earth. All was well with the world.
As I meandered, slowly and methodically, along the barbed wire fence row I recall praying for the little church and its members. This was a healing place, one where God had ministered to my heart in special ways. My heart was filled with the joy of the Lord as I manicured this holy ground.
There are times when the solitude and serenity of our mountains almost scream praises to the Lord. This was such a day.
Weed eating, whistling, singing, praying and praising…I sauntered along. Hmmm, that felt strange…I wonder if…this could be electric fence. I leapt sideways, weed eater in hand, in reaction to sharp tingling pains in my neck and shoulders. My first thought, naturally, was that I again had come in contact with an electrified barbed wire fence. “Just pull away, and you will be fine,” I imagined.
The harder I tugged the more I recoiled back to the fence…pain was radiating from my neck, shoulders, back, head…now my hands. I dropped that weed eater, its flailing plastic line doing a pretty nice number on my ankles, and lunged away from the fence leaving my tattered tee shirt behind on the barbed wire.
As I jumped up and down, performing what might be termed the “weed eater Macarena”, I saw millions and millions – okay maybe only dozens – of vicious yellow jackets gnawing away at my triceps. I slapped with both hands, seeking to rid my balding head of the ferocious beasts…I backed up to the brick wall of the church hoping to smash the ones eating my spine. When suddenly…the nibbles began in my groin area! Stop, drop and roll.
I vividly remember thinking, “I am in the church yard, and I can’t take my pants off here!” But the yellow jacket picnic continued and Farmer Clint was the main course!
As I pulled off my shoes and socks – yes there also were monsters in my tube socks – I successfully removed my jeans and sprung to my feet. Get the picture?…Farmer Clint, dancing about in only his unmentionables, screaming at the bees as if they understood English!
Oh, this was bad enough…but then I saw a vehicle coming up the driveway. Now my shirt was impaled on the fence post, my shoes were who knew where, and my pants were in the back yard as cousin Betsy and Betty Jo approached. They were on site to clean the church for tomorrow’s service.
I ran around back of the building, grabbing clothing as I flew by, hoping the Herrells had not witnessed my nearly-nude “yellow jacket Mambo.” You know the feeling, “Nowhere to run, Nowhere to hide!”
Well, I completed the mowing/weed eating project without further incident. The only evidence of my misfortune was a pennant of tee shirt permanently attached to the fence.
Back at the farmhouse, Doug asked, “Well, Pollard, how did it go at the church?” Poker-face intact I replied, “I did a wonderful job up there. I think Barbara will be proud of me! J”
And, you know, to this day I haven’t a clue as to whether or not Betsy or Betty Jo witnessed Farmer Clint in a Speedo running from man-eating bees? Not a pretty picture, my friends…we can only hope not!
Oh, and by the way, I learned another valuable lesson on the farm that day…yellow jackets REALLY get annoyed if you bang their front door (a hole in the ground) with a buzzing weed eater!
Still Humbled in the Hills,