It was really quite innocent. I was checking out at the grocery store one day when the checker asked me how I got so dirty.
Not realizing how much I resembled a speckle-faced sheep, it occurred to me that washing the car that day was no task for the pristine-hearted.
As a family, we have eaten supper in many kinds of places – the park, beside the lake, the elevator parking lot, on the road, in an empty grain bin and in the mountains of Colorado.
But they probably all pale by comparison to the night we ate supper in the pasture.
Harvest was in full swing. In our operation, come harvest time, supper ware grows tires and moves around from field to field in gypsy-like fashion.
The food tries to stay warm while we hunt down the people who are combining, trucking, working ground, or otherwise trying to feign busy-ness.
One night as I was tracking down my family, my husband told me where they were working, and said, “But we’re not actually in the field. We’re parked in the pasture.”
I had just finished feeding a crew a few miles away and decided to take the most direct route there. It led me down two miles of Level B service roads, which don’t threaten me this time of year like they do in the winter.
Feeling like I was headed down a cow path anyway, I tooled along in the dark with great ease, knowing I was cutting out unnecessary miles.
When I got toward the end of the second mile, I discovered that out in that area of the country, they must have gotten more than an inch of rain all summer, because the water was splashing up on the sides of the car, and I was gunning it so I didn’t get stuck.
The tires and the car looked more like a Chevy pickup truck commercial. I started singing “Like A Rock” as I made my way out of the quagmire. I’m sure my family was grateful to not be in the car as I crooned the lyrics with triumphant volume and arrogance.
I arrived at the pasture and saw the trucks and the combine lights. As I got closer, I slowly made my way through cows that looked at both me and the car with a hint of tranquil suspicion.
Their distrust of me was painfully obvious as they never once broke their icy stares.
I was getting supper out of the back of the car when my husband came over, wondering where I’d been four-wheeling, visually examining the car with the same look that the cows had.
I was beginning to feel a little unwelcome.
The plot thickened as I dished up the main entre-meatloaf. As the cows began to close in on us, I began to wish I had cooked something with chicken or pork that night. The cows knew where the beef was, and were starting to have one with me.
I’m certain they counted their pasture mates to make sure they were all there, and not on our plates.
We scarfed our supper that night in front of a critical four-legged audience which had gathered around us like a common street gang.
And when it was time to go, I realized I’d stepped in a pie, but not one I had brought.
I wiped that off of my shoe in the pasture grass as best as I could. The tires had also found plenty of it on the way in and out of the pasture, and it became obvious that the car was going to need to be washed after that evening’s unusual harvest catering festivities.
Thus, my speckled face, hands, arms and clothes as I checked out of the grocery store. Unless they could smell me, I’m betting they thought it was all road grime.
Our car could have actually used some pasteurization to rid itself of objectionable content following our supper in the pasture.
Welcome to the farm.
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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