Farming with the littlest farmer yields some dandy bonuses that glitter more than gold coins from a banker’s vault.
My nephew and wife were invited to a local wedding reception for a life-long friend who works as a hunting guide in Alaska, where he met and married his bride. I was happy to be asked to watch the little ones, and gathered up my farm toys and headed for an evening with Oliver and Johnathan.
Oliver, 3, had spent a long day helping his dad cut wood, so he was sawing logs on the couch when I arrived, deep in little boy dreams. I enjoyed every minute with the baby, who smiles much more than he fusses. Just as he was drifting off to sleep in my arms, Oliver started to stir.
Pretending to be talking to my hubby, I said, “I’m thinking about asking Santa for a tractor this year. What color should I wish for? A red tractor with purple tires?”
My hubby answered, “Oliver said you should ask for a red tractor.”
Oliver was lifted from sleep, pulling the blanket away from his face to say, “No, I didn’t. Green. Ask for green. They don’t even make red tractors with purple!”
After he’d had a good long drink of cold milk, he was ready to farm. Oliver instructed me where to set up my barn and my livestock pasture.
“Wait here. I gotta get my livestock truck.”
We loaded cattle in to the livestock truck, leaving the horses. “Where are we taking the cattle?” I asked. “Are we moving them to the Fickes farm?”
Not missing a beat, Oliver said, “Not the Fickes farm. We don’t got a barn there no more. A tornado got that barn. We’ll have to take them to the Stone farm.”
We needed help because one cow was limping, moving slow. “Should I call the vet or your neighbor Bob Jones to see what he thinks?” I asked the little blue-eyed farmer, who didn’t hesitate. “Call the vet. Bob Jones is at the fair.”
All sorts of challenges came our way. We had to hunt up the chopper to fill our empty silo, we needed to move hundreds of hay bales, then we had a flat tire on the silage wagon because of a groundhog hole (“and I mean a BIG groundhog hole!” Oliver explained to me), the hired hand Billy forgot to close the gate and a cow got out on the road, which meant we needed to call Bob Jones.
“Shoot. Jonesy not answer his phone. He must still be at the fair,” Oliver said. Asking what Jonesy does at the fair, Oliver answered, “He works there,” he said, then with an ornery grin, he added, “And he eats junk food, I bet!”
Suddenly, Oliver said, “Get down! Get under here! Please! There’s a tornado comin’ and we got to get down fast when I say that!”
We hunkered under our farm, and he praised me for listening. “I said it kinda mean, but I still said ‘please.’ When there’s a tornado, everybodys gotsta listen. You did good,” he assured me, patting my hand.
When the storm had passed, he checked our farm, assuring me all was fine. Oliver then crossed his little arms and kicked out one foot, getting situated, and it was then that I recognized the look that came over his little face.
It was the look a true farmer gets when he talks about such things, and he was a mirror of his daddy.
“There was a bad tornado that took our barn clear away once. That was a bad, bad day. Some cows got hurt. The barn didn’t even look like a barn anymore. Bad, bad day.”
Oliver’s mom and dad got home before we got all the farming done. Even as I write this, a little voice in my head, a blondie with big blue eyes, is saying, “Ya never get the farming done!” So, the next big job will wait on us. And we will turn a bad day in to good.
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