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The Education of a New Farmer: Part VIII

by Raven OKeefe

John Denver Was Never So Wrong

Look up the words "pastoral" or "bucolic" in your dictionary, and you'll find meanings like "peaceful, simple, rural." Plainly these words were made up by city folks. Anyone who thinks that farm life is pastoral or bucolic has never been there or done that. As if things weren't pastoral and bucolic enough what with lambing, haying, planting, irrigating, major pieces of machinery falling apart just when you need them most, and a drunk crashing his brand-new fancy pickup into the drainage ditch in front of our house (taking out our driveway in the process, totaling his truck, but harming himself not a whit), now we're hosting a sheepdog trial this weekend, the first Sheep Thrillz SDT.

My level of pastorality and bucolicity is about the same as that of Tweek, the kid in "South Park" whose parents own a coffee store and give him their finest blends to drink, so he's always on the brink of frenzy, shrieking "Eek! Ack! Too much pressure! Oh jeez, I can't do all this! I can't stand it!" A script for my days right now would run something like this:

Raven dashes madly into the office, turns on the computer and starts typing up the running orders for both days, while scanning the original artwork for Tshirts for the "Covered Bridges Triple Crown," of which Sheep Thrillz is trial #2. The phone rings, she gives directions to the trial field while simultaneously typing and scanning. Dogfight! Dogfight! Two of the dogs are in a tiff over something! She runs off to break it up, still on the phone. "Ack! I can't do all this!" Dogs are sent to neutral corners for a Time Out. Phone call ends. Scanning is completed. "Eek! What about insurance? OSDS insurance fell through, must scramble at the last second to get USBCHA coverage! Ack!"

She races off to town to fax the information off to USBCHA's carrier, while the running orders are printing. "Oh jeez! Got to get the trophy!" Off to Stayton, 11 miles down the road, to pick it up from our wonderful vets who are sponsoring it. Bales! Bales in the field, all have to be picked up and hauled off yet! Off we go bouncing and jouncing across the pasture in a pickup full of six delighted Border Collies to buck bales. "Eek! Oh no! I HAVE to finish that portrait right now and prioirity mail it, it has to be there for Father's Day!" Raven a.k.a. Tweek tears off for the house to finish the portrait, scurrying around in between watercolor washes, hastily stuffing debris into drawers and closets in the guest room where our trial judge will be staying. "Ack! Oh jeez! A dead mouse under a stack of picture frames! Hey Grizzy, I found that mouse you were saving for a late night snack!"

"Ack! Oh no! Food! Got to go into town to get food!" Our designated food source, Crabtree Creek BBQ, cancelled out at the last moment when Barbecue Bob threw his back out, so we must hustle up something for folks to eat. "I can't stand it! Help! Tarps! We need tarps for the set-out pen, got to get tarps! And frames for the certificates! And Œcaution' tape!" Off to town.

A period of bucolic pastoral peace ensues during the two hour trip to town and back, after which Tweek-ism returns in full force. Road signs to be made! Shade tents to set up! Find some people to man the entry gate! Make sure the press releases will go into tomorrow's newspapers. And and and...

Remember that old John Denver song that starts out "Well, life on the farm is kinda laid back..."? As we Wisconsin folk would say: yeah, you bet.

--- Raven on the run, 6/12/03