There are certain things farm wives and mothers do just because they carry that title.
They carry feed and water pails, field suppers on the go, children, dustpans full of corn, soybeans and alfalfa, sick animals, veterinary supplies, their share of the work load in the house and on the tractor, a few burdens in the not-so-great commodity pricing years, lots of financial responsibility and even a few grudges now and then.
I really thought I had done all of the things that farm wives and mothers have done for hundreds of years, aside from making head cheese and washing our clothes on a rock down by the river.
Our local high school had its Homecoming activities a few weeks ago, and in keeping with the tradition that our FFA chapter started – wanting to be part of the Homecoming festivities and raise a little cash for the Homecoming committee – they once again hosted their annual cow chip bingo.
Our sons have taken care of providing the chips for the last few years, hauling the cow into town and setting her free on the pre-fabricated grid on which she was to do her business.
When you’re a cow, all the world is your bingo pad.
Well, with harvest starting late this year, our sons were a little balled up trying to keep everything going once they were in the field.
Every farmer knows that the window of opportunity sometimes closes in quickly when extracting the crop – as many farmers found out this past spring as they tried to plant that same crop.
That’s where I came into the picture.
One of them called me up that Friday afternoon and said what was going on, and asked me if I could haul one of their cows into town so the cow chip bingo could go on as expected that night.
It would be fine if I was gifted at backing up a livestock trailer.
Passing the buck, I called up the local FFA chapter advisor and pleaded my case after none of the neighbors answered their phones. Was there someone who could come out to our farm and back the trailer up to the gate? I could get the darned cow chased in, but she had to have a destination place first.
Thankfully, he knew of someone who could help – one of his FFA members who, like our sons, had done it a million times.
He backed the trailer up to the gate – first time – and emerged from the truck emotionally unscathed, unlike me if I had spent two hours trying to accomplish that same task.
We loaded the cow and headed into town, where people were interested in her business end.
I was met by the athletic director, who came out to the grounds, smiling, and said, “When she does her thing, just let me know which square gets most of it.”
Only in Iowa would that conversation have taken place. There were days when our children were sick and in diapers when I could have said much the same thing.
She roamed around for a few minutes, looking at the people who were watching her and wondering what all the fuss was about.
Finally, she did what she came to do – not even knowing she had made the person who gambled on G9 a very happy person that night.
She just did what cows do out in the grass.
As I was heading home I got a call from the guy who had been at our house doing some measuring for counter tops, saying he had finished up his work there.
The cow and the counter top guy had both finished up their business that Friday night.
I apologized for not being there when he was there, telling him I was on the way home with a cow who had put cow chip bingo in the books again for this year’s Homecoming.
I’ve never heard someone laugh so hard at the thought of cow chip bingo. Yes. A good, long, breathy belly laugh.
It even made me laugh. He’d never heard of such a folly.
Yes, farm mothers, be proud. Cow chip bingo would not happen some years if you weren’t around. Someone gets the cold, hard cash, but we sometimes get the prestige of making it happen.
It’s just another one of our many talents.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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