Thursday, October 16, 2014

Driving a Tractor in the Rain

The rain is falling increasingly quickly, and my clothes are already heavy, since my rain gear needs to be replaced I'm soaked through in an instant. Even my socks are soggy, need new boots too after a season of work. I go through even the toughest pairs of boots at least twice a year--maybe it's because farm work is as rough in a summer as a life time guarantee--maybe it's because I'm just rough on things.  The tractor has no cab, and I'm sitting on top of it pleased it's running, yesterday was spent troubleshooting. God bless the internet, and friends with mechanical skills- and YouTube. In this modern era you have all of the info at the click of a mouse, which is good because there is no one around to show me what they know about the Farmall A, and no one to fix it but me. She's running fine now, though you never expect it to last, I'll be back covered in grease and frustration in no time.

In the trailer behind the tractor are buckets of feed and water, a luxury! The last several days while I fussed with the sputtering engine were spent making 4 or 5 long walks, with full 5 gallon buckets in each hand, twice daily, to edge of the acreage to get all the livestock their rations. Not impossible, or terrible- but slow and especially annoying with the sun glint of the tools resting on the engine block winking at my struggles.

I'm drenched now, but the animals are unconcerned with my momentary discomfort and hardly seem to notice the rain themselves when there is breakfast to attend to. I open up coop doors and pour feed into trays, hoping too much doesn't get washed away but knowing the clean up crew won't let much go to waste. Back in the barn 12 piglets are resting comfortably out of the weather, with round bellies and contempt that I didn't let them out yet. They're new to our electric fence, and the weather can make the fence unreliable. I don't trust them outside, and they have plenty of space indoors for today. It's one thing to be wet during chores, it's quite another to slide around in busted boots chasing muddy, obstinate piglets. I recognize the silliness of filling watering containers in this weather, but do it anyway. The turkeys get a boost of electrolytes, the warm and cool moods of October doesn't suit their delicate sensibilities, and keeping them flush with minerals seems to do them good. Or, it at least soothes my worried farmer mind even if it doesn't help them at all.

The rain is warm for October, and I'm grateful for that-- I'm not shaking with cold with a dripping nose. I'm just wet, and only temporarily. There is a modern miracle of a clothes dryer inside, hot coffee, and the promise of breakfast. Breakfast will be a bed of last night's roasted sweet potatoes, topped with two runny eggs and drowned in a healthy dose of hot sauce and house-made summer tomato ketchup.

In all our lives, we deal with some level of discomfort. I'm not talking about those with chronic pain, or in severe emotional distress, or the myriad of other sufferings that exist in our world.  Boredom, being over tired, being unsatisfied- these are considered to be human conditions. But we've also strayed away from even momentary feelings of physical discomfort- slightly cold, a little wet, too hot, a bit sore... it's considered beneath us to inhabit your physical body unhappily for even a second. Those millions who work jobs that keep them on their feet are considered by many to have 'failed' in some way. But, I will tell you a secret... for me... the physical discomfort is glorious. My mind can not handle sitting still, even for a few hours, I crave motion and action as much as my coffee. I model myself after the chickens I care for- flinging themselves into the weather in the pursuit of a good meal. I know my limits better now, having pushed through the immediate modern western human reactions of horror at being drenched in sweat, and of course- calluses help.

The hot cup of coffee tastes more perfect. The bowl of breakfast is more satisfying. The sound of the dyer is musical. Silly? Romanticized? Sure. But also completely and totally honest. Discomfort brings me appreciation. Which is good, because shortly I'll be experiencing plenty more of it with the day's tasks. So, I say- let it rain. I'll sit on top of the tractor, keeping rain from my eyes the best I can, feeding the masses. I'll ring out my socks. There's plenty more coffee to be had.

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