Farm families must be able to roll with the punches

By Baxter Black: Humor Columnist

Farming is a partnership — man and wife engaged in the century’s old “business” of raising livestock and coaxing a crop from the ground.

And yes, there really are moments that inspire the romantic images poets and artists portray; the couple sitting on the porch swing — watching the sun set over a dark green field of soybeans, or mom in her apron holding a steaming platter of biscuits as hubby and the haying crew look up from the breakfast table smiling, or the wife chatting pleasantly as she explains to the implement dealer exactly what part her husband sent her to town for, or the joy on her face as she stands ankle deep in mud next to her stuck pickup holding her dead cell phone, waiting for hubby to arrive.

Yes, these are the ties that bind.

Children, neighbors and friends give their lives flavor and satisfaction but the strength of the whole operation depends on the bond between farmer and wife. It is a mutual dependency that stems from knowing that each will do their part to make it work.

This does not mean there are not complications. There are times when each is forced to assist in tasks for which they are not as well suited. It is on these occasions when bedrock relationships are tested and lines drawn in the sand.

George asked Polly to help him sort some big steers.

“Where’s Carlos?” she asked.

“Nobody’s here,” George said, agitated, “and I’ve got to sort ’em this afternoon.”

Polly was put on the sorting gate. The alley was slick, the clouds were low, the wind was blowing. It was 42 degrees.

“In!” and “By!” came the shouts as George orchestrated the train wreck. Cattle got passed, got cut the wrong way, the sorting gate got bent.

George’s instructions got louder and more pointed. Finally he chased one clear to the end of the alley cussing all the way.

He turned his frustrations on Polly and griped ’til he was blue. These cattle had to be worked, he couldn’t do it alone. Why is it always like this? She’s making a muck of everything. Why can’t she do it right?

Polly stood, covered with green shrapnel, her rubber boots balled with mud, and her hair stuck to the side of her head. She waited ’till George ran out of oxygen.

“So,” she said, cutting him no slack. “Does this mean I’m fired?”