Farm Follies

Once a Cheater

On the day that we were married, Xandy delivered hay. Granted, we eloped, but still.

“It’ll be fast. I promise,” he said and then off he went to the farm, to load up twenty or so bales to deliver to some customer whose own livestock was hungry.

I should have known then.

Being a farmer’s wife means that, especially during the summer, you lose your husband, taken not by another woman but by a darker enchantress — the farm. She offers constant stimulation and a place where there is always something needing to be done and/or fed.

Even before moving to the farm, before we were married, I would often not see Xandy until well beyond dark. He’d come home covered in hay and sweat, with a smile that I knew was not for me. It was his idea to marry in early May so that he wouldn’t “be on a tractor pulling a hay wagon for all of our anniversaries.” Truthfully, I yearned for the days when we would finally be living together on the farm so that I could see him more.

And see him now, I do.

I see him out in the hay fields on a tractor round-baling or on the back of a wagon loading square bales. I see him walking the fence in our lower pasture or opening a new paddock for a herd of cattle that just won’t shut-up — wanting the fresh grass that they see beyond where they are fenced in. I see him heading to the barn with his red bucket filled with warm water ready for the milk replacer that keeps the motherless calves in the barn alive or in his truck driving away to check on the free running cattle up the road.

My father-in-law told me, when Xandy and I were first married, that I should not let Xandy talk me out of a vacation. “We can come and watch the farm,” he said. “Don’t let him tell you that he can’t leave.”

I thought about that for the hour or so that Kitt and I sat and waited for the local 4th of July parade. I realized, as I watched fathers with their wives and daughters walk to find spaces to sit, that it never crossed my mind to ask Xandy to go with us to the parade. As I loaded Kitt into the car, he and his father discussed the haying that they would be doing for the day. I waved and left. Perhaps the reason that I never asked was that subconsciously I knew how miserable he would be. He would go, because I asked him to, and then he would tap his foot and look at the sun, quietly longing to be back where there was work to be done. I would then feel pangs of guilt taking any pleasure away from whatever we were doing.

The number of fathers at the parade actually stunned me. Don’t they know that now that the sun is out, there is hay to be made? I thought about that again when I saw friends of mine with their baby at the library yesterday morning. Together. The library. Really.

In the middle of the day.

Xandy and I often talk about taking a family vacation  or an actual honeymoon instead of just an overnight to Boothbay Harbor which is what we had. Maybe someday we will do that. For now, I plan trips for Kitt and I — as she is too young to help in the hay fields. Santa’s Village sounds fun.

“Won’t it be exciting when Kitt is old enough to hay?” My husband looks at me in gleeful anticipation  as I read to him this post. “Then I can come home from work and you can have all the hay raked and tedded ready to go!”

“Um, yeah, exciting.”

Then I will have lost both my husband and daughter to that temptress. Can’t wait.

8 replies on “Once a Cheater”

Sounds so familiar to us as our best friends and family are farmers in Iowa…we go to see them next week…they are always busy as your husband is in running the farm…but just recently came the day when they retired or had the farm work done by others and the husband went to work for the vineyard down the dirt road and the wife works Pampered Chef….now they travel all over and the feeling of letting go allows them wonderful escapes and travel all over…they never thought they’d love it, but they do…we all like coming home and our home, but hope that you do get to experience the love of the land or skies or trains or oceans….meanwhile, it is comforting and brings joy in young life to see happiness working in the fields and the enticement or lure of the small town or farm is so peaceful and satisfying to others who observe, even if very, very hard work with the soybeans, the cattle, etc….we wish for you, just like we wish for anyone, love of life at home but love of the world that awaits your senses….your father-in-law was right….but we’ve heard of and have viewed the lure and love of the farm, every minute of a farmer’s family’s life…and it is inspirational to view that love…

Your making me smile with memories of my days in the San Joaquin Valley, and the same kind of stories and yearnings that went on there. A farmer is a farmer, either you are one, or your not. Now I watch the dairy farmer in my back yard, he is 83 and the same. Haying all the days you are haying, with the same smile that I am sure is on Xandys’ face. A farmer is a farmer.

Hi Sherry, I just read your last 4 posts. Great stuff. I love the flow of conversation and description. You’re in a writing groove here! I’m jealous of the strawberries but not the missing cows.

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