Prison life easier than dairy farm life


As I sat talking with a couple of friends one day last week, the subject of prisoners and prison life came up, somehow connected to all the media hype over poor little rich girl, Paris Hilton.
The consternation over some serving time – like Martha Stewart – and others not serving time – like President Bush’s chum, Scooter Libby, who has been pardoned into a few years of “supervised release,” was at the heart of most of our discussion.
Tough. Everyone seemed to be in total agreement that the stories we hear of life behind bars, at least among the celebrity set, doesn’t seem nearly as tough as most people think it should be.
The prisoners in many facilities are given the right to work out, to take classes, to file lawsuits over frivolous complaints, such as the battle for chunky peanut butter instead of creamy peanut butter only being served in the mess hall of one reformatory.
This is a confirmed prison lawsuit. I could not make this up even if I tried.
I made the comment that one form of punishment could be making prisoners milk cows twice a day in the deep heat of the summertime, and in between milkings, they could be forced to bale load after load of heavy hay.
I was shocked to hear one of my friends shriek in revolt, saying that would be entirely too cruel. I laughed out loud. I couldn’t help myself! This is how I spent my youth, I countered, and I survived it.
Character. “Hard work builds character,” I said with a smile. My friend just rolled her eyes and insinuated that there is something wrong with me.
She’s probably right. Just think of it, though. Instead of a facility with “controlled climate” where inmates are allowed to jump rope and pump iron in order to work off stress without breaking out in too heavy of a sweat, how about a 110-degree milking parlor for their physical workout?
Cows would be jittery and jumpy because they could sense these inmates would rather be somewhere – anywhere! – else, and the dirty cow tails would be flipping and flapping constantly.
A few of the younger heifers would decide to revolt, kicking and scrambling for freedom.
Just for fun, let’s throw in one cow with defiance issues, a hoodlum cow who fears nothing and no one. To beef up the challenging atmosphere of a really good physical workout, let’s add about 10,000 biting flies and a whole herd of blood-thirsty mosquitos.
Chores. With the morning milking completed, morning chores await. There is fence needing fixed in the far pasture where there is no such thing as a shade tree, and the nasty flies are good and hungry.
Let’s throw in some poison ivy just for the fun of it, growing wildly around the fence post that needs attention.
By early afternoon, the hay is ready to be baled. The sun is high in the sky, there is not a breath of air anywhere. The elevator is moving those bales at a great clip off the hay wagon, and the upper mow is perfect for those who love a chaff-filled sauna.
There is simply nothing like a heavy bale of hay hitting a sweaty arm. The itchy green stuff wants to stick like glue to exposed skin.
Oh, what fun! Let’s see … we could see to it that the hay wagons keep coming, non-stop, until the clock rolls around to evening milking time.
Debate. The inmates could then have their own debate about which is better or worse, baling hay or milking cows that have been out on lush green pasture all day long.
Some will have belly aches, adding to the fun of milking parlor clean-up.
Ah, this would be such a wonderful learning experience for the incarcerated.
The only thing better than putting in a day like this one is knowing that tomorrow will be another day just like it!


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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, in college.