I've talked a great deal about growing up on a farm. My fun adventures with my grandmother's chickens and hinted at the great okra escapade to end all escapades. Honestly, the okra escapade isn't much to talk about. It's more of a horrific chore assigned by a crazy woman as a way of controlling a willful child. Mercy was a willful child, gasp/ Yes, yes I was. I wasn't a bad kid. I've never been a bad person. I just seriously don't like to be commanded to do things. Command me to do anything and you'll see something. I was this way at three. I used to sneak out of my house when my mother napped in the afternoon to play outside with the boys next door. I remember that very clearly. I put on long pants and socks on my hands, Keds on my feet without socks because I'm from Florida and we don't wear socks if we don't have to dammit. Anyway, I was maybe four at the time and she was probably pregnant with my brother. I didn't want to take a nap so she closed me in my room. I wasn't having that so I schemed to break out. Wearing the above described I crawled on hands and knees down the tiled hall all the way to the back door where I flipped the locks and carefully let myself out into the yard. We won't discuss the whooping I got for that. It was deserved. I was an incredibly willful little shit but on top of that I was devious. They didn't know how to handle me so they broke me. All of them.
The okra thing was a teenage rite of passage. As soon as I was old enough to handle a knife and tall enough to reach the high stalks I was sent into the field to cut okra. Back in the old days this stuff was considered a poison. It's an ugly plant with an ugly fruit. And it's noxious, odious, and any other word for just plain foul. You can't pick it, the stalks are tough you have to cut it with a knife. I'm very good with a knife, I can peel a potato paper thin without breaking the peel faster than anyone with a potato peeler. But anyway, okra once you cut it oozes this nasty stinging slime. I don't like to wear gloves especially when I'm wielding a knife. So there you have it. Fun summers spent on my grandmother's farm doing character building chores that they couldn't pay anyone else to do all because I was a willful child and needed to be kept in my place while that evil bitch sat in her air conditioned kitchen and laughed at me. Not one of my cousins ever did that chore. Not a single one. Just me. The one brave enough to stand up to her. I hate fucking okra to this day.
Now when I say I grew up on this farm I don't mean I lived there. My parents owned seven acres of mostly pasture land not far from my grandmother. We kept between four and seven heads of cattle (cows for you city peeps) on our little plot of land. We also boarded other people's horses. Once we boarded a huge litter of piglets, and wasn't that just fun and games all over the place. I have no problem eating bacon because of those little bastards. Don't laugh, there was that one time in a friggin hurricane that the neighbors donkey got loose and ended up in our yard. Yeah we had to chase that ass down and pen him up until the storm let up. Soaking wet with wind whipping around like, well, it was a hurricane, doing that herding dance that farm kids learn to do. Arms out forming a wall while some big damn animal comes barreling at you and you don't have any shoes on because you were too stupid to go grab some. The goats that we had one year, yeah I hated those fuckers worse than anything. The nanny and the kids were fine, it was that asshole billy that I wanted to see run over. Mean, stinky with horns and did I mention mean. Electric fences are wonderful things let me tell you that right now. He couldn't get through it to get to me and when he'd forget it was there, well, that was always a good day. An even better day was the day my cousin was told not to touch the fence so what did he do? That's right he whipped it out and took a piss right on the electric fence. He never did that again. He was lucky he was able to have kids but he never did that again. But as much as I hated that goat, the meat stayed in our freezer for years. I wouldn't eat it. I don't know what my parents were thinking when they decided that was a good idea. We never ate the animals we raised personally. We sold those and ate anonymous animals from my grandmother's herds. The goats weren't anonymous. I knew them. I might have hated him but I never wanted to eat him.
Now about my grandmother's farm. She is still alive and she still has that damned thing. She's holding it over her surviving children's heads as an inheritance. And it's not a small thing. She is a corporate farmer she owns several hundred acres of land. She farms soybeans, cotton, peanuts and feed corn. Runs about a thousand head of beef cattle and various other farm animalia. One of my uncles owns race horses and has had one in one of the big derbys. He didn't do so well but it was there. One of my favorite things to do when left to my own devices was to rile the turkeys up by sitting on the big gas tank and yelling gobble gobble gobble at the top of my lungs until they all started gobbling back. This isn't a small quaint little tv farm like on Green Acres or Little House on the Prairie. This is a big damn farm with millions of dollars worth of equipment and out buildings. Silos filled with grain. And when I talk about my fond memories of gathering eggs for my grandmother we're not talking a small little coop with a couple or five roosting hens and a cock (rooster). We're talking two houses about the size of a one bedroom cottage each and a quarter acre chicken wired run. She kept about seventy-five hens in each house and I usually gathered about a hundred eggs at a time. I only did this once a week. Those hens laid every day. She sold the eggs the family didn't eat at market down in Panama City. I never was allowed in the other house with the rare chickens, she didn't let the kids mess with them. She was used to dealing with men, farm hands, buyers, whatever. She was an evil abusive woman but I will say this, she worked in a male dominated field and she's outlived most of her competitors. That much I'll give her. That and whether she meant to or not I do have some fond memories of those days, the headless chicken incident isn't one of them but there are a few.
Now about that contest for a print copy of Behind Iron Lace.
Friday. And Friday only. One comment per person. Nothing special, just our regular hot man Friday and one person is going to get a signed copy of BIL. Easy Peasy. What? I could make you go cut okra for it. That shit stings like a bitch. Worse than salt and lemon juice in a cut. And don't rub your eyes because you will be blind for life.....er...nope no torture. I don't do torture. Much.
Remember print give away on Friday. Tell your friends.