Thursday, October 9, 2008

Down on the farm

I used to hate going to the farm.

So, naturally, when my dad asked me if I'd like to go along with him for a quick visit yesterday, I said "Uhhh....sure!"

As kids, we used to go to my dad's farm (it was our grandparents place until they died) and help out fairly regularly. I was almost as useful on the farm as I was on the football team. My "love" of bugs, spiders and snakes only made the announcement "Get in the car, we're heading to the farm" that much more terrifying.

There were a variety of things we'd have to do to help, clean the chicken coop. Nothing tears through your sinuses and intestinal system as quickly as the wafting odor that comes from digging into the fragrant. dry, caked chicken soil with a pitchfork.

It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Then, there would be the weeding of the various hodge-podge gardens. That is where I acquired my, now infamous, "Dear Lord in Heaven above I just walked face-first into a spiderweb" dance, complete with flailing arms and trembling jazz hands. Besides trying to watch out for arachnids, there were the hideously fat and nasty potatoe bugs under every leaf and, oh LOOK...a garter snake!!

Green Acres was NOT the place to least for me.

But, my favorite memory of all, was the family pig slaughter that I attended one year. My dad and uncles kept a pig on the farm, fattened it up and then, when it was good and was time to make bacon out of it. As if getting up at 4 am was not bad enough, there I was at the entrance of the barn with my uncles and my younger brother, happily brandishing his new bb gun, as they prepared to kill it.

All I remember was running quickly to the nearby gas tank by a tree and crying as my brother and uncles pulled their triggers in unison. The sound of that pig squealing will never leave my brain.

Then, of course, the rest of the day was a Saw-esque festival (with all the Aunts and other children) of cutting the pig up, making sausage and other food items that would just add to the visual gems forever burned into my nightmares.

I would never have survived in the "old days".

Thankfully, our visit this week involved no carnage or critter of any kind. We walked around the grounds, picked a few random tomatoes still clingly to their withering vines, grabbed some dried corn stalks for Halloween decoration....then drove back up the lane to the road home.

I didn't feel the intense anxiety I did as a kid....but a slight sense of dread and unease still lingers at times, all these years later.

Thankfully, time, years of therapy, and a great amount of distance has a way of changing your perspective and fear.

However, you won't ever hear me say "I'm leaving the city and movin' to the farm!".


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