Billy and I took a long drive east, almost to Massachusetts, to deliver two pigs to a farm. At the end of the trip we drove down a long dirt road that curved through woods and was just barely wide enough for the truck and trailer to pass. The farmer was standing by the house when we arrived, carrying a coffee can of grain in one hand and holding a cane in the other, followed by a goat and a ram, both following the coffee can hopefully. Also there was one yellow tom cat, five wonderful dogs, a few guineas, a pen full of miniature donkeys, sheep and a couple of breeds of goats, a couple of old roosters, an ancient grey goose, two horses, and pigs, and six head of cattle. There was very little fence and the cattle were just out there roaming free. He told us he lets the pigs out a couple of times a week to get some exercise, “but they always come right back when they are hungry.” He was so pleased with the new pigs and they were beautiful. After we had his pigs unloaded and in their right spots he invited us in for lunch and we asked him lots of questions about his life there. He has been farming longer than we have but it is the same story in lots of ways. He is working hard to keep the place for his kids and there is no problem that can’t be fixed with a little more time and money. He remembered his parents milking seven cows when they started and they made enough to pay off the farm in two years and a few years later, expanded the herd to seventeen cows, bought a tractor, and got a new car. He is 67 and has never owned a new car in his life. New cars are not a big loss. He told us he and his wife had gone to visit a place recently with restored barns and new fence and his wife had said, “Why can’t our place look like this?” And he laughed and told us he had said to her, “‘It can! You go find the guy writing the checks and I’ll fix our place up right away.’ Then he leaned back in his chair and said ,”There is farming with money and farming for money and they are two very different things.”
While we sat at the kitchen table talking, the dogs slept around our chairs and the views out the windows were beautiful. It was a very nice spot of the world. I had a good feeling about this farmer when we had spoken on the phone and when we arrived he said, “Isn’t it great when things work out so well?”
In the end we shook hands and asked that he stay in touch. Then we made the long drive home with the empty trailer.
(don’t worry w.s., I wasn’t driving this time)
. . . . .
I called the girls to let them know when to expect us. When we came in the door the house smelled good. The girls had finished their homework, they had taken care of the chicks, the table was set, and Harriet had made homemade meatballs, spaghetti, and tomato sauce for supper. I turned to Billy and said, “Okay, clearly we have done something right at some point.” Then we sat around our own kitchen table and told the girls about the cows that roamed free and the dogs.