Fall’s backdrop makes all the farm chores worth doing


“Throwing down hay from the highest point of the south mow, I was drawn to the west corner by the tiniest of sounds. Nestled in a tiny bowl of hay, I found a litter of colorful kittens. I watched them stretch and yawn and remember why it is worth the hard work of farming just to live on a farm.”

— Kay Willette, 1959

As I go about my work here on the farm this morning, the autumnal backdrop makes all the chores worth doing.

The horses run in the pale sunlight, stopping only to roll once in awhile like kids at recess, then munch on the lush pasture a bit between the rodeo kicks and spins.

Squirrels are darting from tree to tree, and just a moment ago, one little red squirrel climbed atop the large picnic table in our backyard, stood on his haunches and just looked about for the longest time. He seemed to decide upon his next move, then practically flew up the old walnut tree. He stayed around for the longest time, entertaining me with his antics.


A gorgeous male bluebird lit on my favorite lawn chair, fluffing his feathers, scoping the lay of the land. He was soon joined by three other bluebirds, and after a time they all flew to the highest point of one of our very large trees near the house, singing from the rafters. What a joy these bluebirds have been since we have moved here.

For the first time this morning, I took my litter of tiny Yorkie puppies out in to the grass. Even though they have already been weaned, their petite mama was suddenly on high alert, and wishing to protect them from all the noises of nature, would barely allow them to move. This is Priscilla’s first litter and she watches her two little babies like a hawk.

When the one-pound puppies tried to explore in the carpet of grass, she rolled them over and licked their bellies and faces. This loving attention prompted complete cooperation, and exploration seemed a moot point. When I brought them back inside the house, Priscilla felt the need to bathe them with great determination.


The downside to living atop this secluded farm is the realization that there are coyotes much closer than I would like. One late summer night, as Cort and his buddies worked at cleaning the fish on the back porch which they had caught, a howl that would send chills up the spine of even the most callous of the macho crew broke across the fields. Cort heard a loud call from a cat and then there was silence.


He hadn’t mentioned this to me, and I spent the next several days wondering where Shadow, the lovely gray barn cat, might be hiding. Shadow was just a kitten when we moved here, and because he followed so closely on our heels when we were doing barn chores or yard clean-up, I tagged him with the name Shadow.

Never a pest, Shadow was just an incredibly nice addition to the cast of characters here. Gray with a blaze of white on his chest, Shadow was a great hunter and worth his weight in gold as a mouser in the barn.

Shadow is no more. It sickens me to realize that a good cat was out hunting when he became the hunted.

Deal with bad along with good

Like all things in life, I have learned that we must find a way to deal with the bad along with the good.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.


  1. In reference to your last paragraph,since many of us farmers are losing our farms and are now divorced this would be a great time for Susan Crowell to start a column for match-making single farmers.
    It would sure be more exciting than all the political fighting and gloom and doom issues we all are facing today! Better days days are coming when Ms. Wonderful appears,then watch out!

  2. Steve, singles can already tap into Ohio’s Singles in Agriculture group :) We receive news releases of their events and publish them regularly.

    We profiled the group in a feature many moons ago, http://bit.ly/1q3iK3 , and later discovered that, indeed, one marriage came from a farmer learning of the group in our paper.

    The national group has a Web site:

    And then, there’s the online ag dating matching service we also profiled some time ago:

    Perhaps the best “looking for love” advice, we can dole out came from a good friend of mine, when he told a single farmer nearing 30: “They don’t come walking up the lane, you know!”

  3. Thanks,I logged on to check out the Web site and the Friday night weenie roast at Ferd’s in the village of Van Buren,Iowa sounds like fun but it’s kinda of outside of my “window of opportunity” since I have to work Saturday. Maybe I’ll just smile alot!


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