A. V. Walters

Rural Living

(from August 7, 2009)

Mostly I love living here. There are a few drawbacks. Occasionally, if the wind is wrong (and especially if its damp) the smell of cows from the dairy next door can be cloying. My dad says I’m being polite–it’s not the smell of cows, it’s the smell of cow shit. Those are days when you don’t hang the laundry out, because if you do, folks in town will sniff and then look at you funny when you visit. From my end of the farm, I never smell chickens. We have a running debate as to what smells worse, cows or chickens. Those of us near the cows, think cows; those of them near the chickens, think chickens. What can I say, it’s part of rural living. Did I mention the views are incredible?

Sometimes, the people around the farm are amazingly clueless. Like earlier today when the feed truck leaving the dairy snagged the phone line and dragged it the better part of the half mile long driveway, popping it off the poles in line like tearing a perforated form. I guess he didn’t notice that he had the 20th century dragging along behind him. More curious still were the reactions of the farm hands who witnessed the event. They laughed their asses off, but it never occurred to them to call it in to The Phone Company. Despite the knowledge of what happened, nobody did, until I did it, many hours later (cause the phones were just too damn quiet so I checked, sure enough no dial tone. Which is how I found out about all this in the first place.) By then it was too late to get the service restored today. Actually, they say it could be up to a week–it’s a big repair and it affects only the residents of two farms. We’re not high on their priority list. I complained about it all and Elmer responded, “Yup, they’ll do that.”  Apparently, the hands did tell Elmer, but he didn’t call it in either because he’s at the County Fair in Santa Rosa. Today’s the day his grandsons show their cows and sheep. We all have our priorities. It’s why I’ve been elected (in a manner of speaking) to call PG& E when the power goes out after a tree limb falls or a power pole wanders out onto the road and gets hit. The others don’t seem to think it’s their job. I breathe deep and try to remember the view. I’m going out to get some blackberries. I might just as well. Jam and tart will go nicely with telephone silence.