thenarrator’s account of a trip to a dysfunctional dairy farm and barefoot_czarina’s touching account of faded friendship brought this story to mind.

In the early seventies my girlfriend was a Southwestern Minnesota farm girl. She had been a University of Minnesota student and we’d met at a camp for inner city youth. She was a counsellor and I was in charge of “Arts and Crafts.” Her ancestory was German and Belgian, but her complexion was such that in the summer she was often mistaken for African. Except for her Delph blue eyes. She had beautiful hair, thick black, wavy hair. I’m not going to get into our relationship, it was painful. We drove each other insane. In so many different ways.

She had three sisters and a brother. Her mother had died giving birth to her brother and then an early childhood disease left him deaf. D, the third daughter was, I think the designated farm hand. She had amazing strength. It was interesting dating a woman who could kick my ass.

Her father did a reasonable job of holding things together at his little dairy farm out on the plains. But, I think he must have had ADD.

Once I was visiting during one of those crucial times, planting or harvest, when farmers are in the field constantly, working like maniacs to beat the weather. Early one the afternoon he came tearing back from the field with one of his tractor tires spraying liquid. Those huge tractor tires are filled with liquid not air. I can’t remember if it’s water or what. He’d sprung a leak and it had to be fixed as soon as possible, because there was no time. The tractor tire repair guy, who was probably on call 24-7 during the season was out almost immediately and they set to work fixing the problem. I stood by, a helpless city slicker, watching curiously. Her dad, Joe, was getting frantic. At some point the tire guy said, “Joe, can you get something to put under this Jack to shim it up?”

Joe starts out across the yard to a shed. He never got there. Instead, half way across the yard, he noticed that there was an uneven spot. He stopped, got on his other, smaller tractor and started dragging the ground to level it off. He never returned with the shim. I just stood there. I’m sure my mouth was hanging open.

Maybe I missread the situation. Maybe the tire guy was just trying to get rid of this agitated, hot tempered lunatic and Joe knew it. Maybe D took him aside and said, “Daddy, go do something and let the tire guy work in peace.” I don’t know. But at the time it looked like a case of raging distractability to me.

6 thoughts on “

  1. City boy is relative here. Moorhead, MN was a far cry from the big Apple, but maybe just as far from Ivanhoe, MN. My youth was steeped in the business of agriculture, but I lived in a metro area that had three colleges. I’d been to many farms, but really knew very little about farming.

  2. Normal? It’s in the range. I also knew farmers who had huge feeder operations, paragons of efficiency. Farmers who were US Senators and North Dakota Governors, Franklinesque as it were.

  3. Franklinesque… ha… reminds me of one of the programmers that taught me IBM mainframe assembly language, he also had a farm down in Kankakee Illinois.  I always thought that was pretty cool… that he had his feet in both worlds, so to speak.  (and the reality of his situation was probably a total zoo)

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