Down on the Farm 2016
These are the dog days of winter and there is not much to do in my pathetic, little town. I suppose it’s all relative. Some folks find plenty to do indoors. I saw a bunch of people the other day standing around in Walmart watching them tearing down Santa Claus and putting up Cupid – this was on Christmas Eve!
There will also, no doubt, be a big crowd gathered in Walmart on February 15. They’ll be watching Walmart “associates” tear down those big, red hearts and toss old boxes of unsold, out-of-date chocolates into the “reduced” bin.
“All lovers’ candy, underwear, cards 50% off due to lack of lovers.”
I guess to some this can be an exciting thing. Watching Walmart associates work is exciting sometimes. Did you ever watch one of them try to avoid the misters in the produce section? And by MISTERS, I don’t mean men
I don’t know for sure. but I imagine, these same people who get their kicks watching stuff being dumped into the 50% off Valentine’s bin, will enjoy the erection of St. Patrick statues and green hats with greener shamrocks. St. Pat’s is not a big candy season though, so Walmart will stick the St. Patrick stuff over by the stationery and party supplies.
All the while other associates will jamming the candy aisle full of Easter candy, bunnies, and toy bunnies with pink ears.
This year, Easter comes earlier than usual, so there’s not much of a gap between St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. It’s a really good thing St. Patrick’s Day is known for partying and beer drinking and not for candy, or there would be a huge territorial fight in the candy aisle.
And let’s not forget the fun of watching the SuperBowl displays go up, replete with health food goodies like Tostitos, Frito’s, Lay’s Potato Chips, Pepsi, Coke and best of all beer.
So for some this can be a season of excitement, but not for me. I don’t like watching Walmart associates doing anything. I don’t think it’s if fun…okay, maybe watching the produce lady dodge the misters is a little bit fun.
For the most part, though, winter is taking its toll on me. These bitter, cloudy, winter days seem to run together in an endless trail of torture this time of year. Nature’s way of exacting a toll on someone foolish enough to live where I do?
We still have half of January to go and February is the longest, cruelest month of the year. And yes, I know, March will bring nothing but more harsh, wet, windy crappy weather. Sometimes I think March, not February, is the cruelest month of all — with its promise of spring gift wrapped in a freezing icy rain, wind, and cold temperatures. I’ve lived long enough to know that Winter’s stubborn grip will last at least until the middle of April. And that’s only if we’re lucky.
When you live in some god-forsaken place like this, stuck in the middle of nowhere, you learn to be resourceful, or you just get grumpy. So many people in the Midwest are curmudgeons because they run out of ways to deal with winter. For those of us who are not entertained by the machinations of Walmart associates, there’s really much to do.
That being said, I am the resourceful type. I like to find creative ways to entertain myself when I’ve grown tired of doing the things I have to do and sick of doing the things I usually do to chip away at the the time until spring finally comes and melts my world back into spring and summer.
Save for Walmart-associate-watching and looking at seasonal displays of candy and other commercial goodies, there’s nothing to do around here in winter. We don’t even have hills, let alone mountains, so skiing isn’t an option. And if you have a mind to ski, the nearest decent ski area is about 3 hours away. Of course if the weather’s good for skiing, it usually sucks for driving. So that ski area may as well be 1500 miles away in Aspen. Or in China.
However, spring and summer bring with them a myriad of things to do.
In summer us men can girl watch – which is a lot more fun that watching Walmart associates. In the summertime, we can actually tell a girl from an old bum. In winter it’s tough to do that since bums and pretty girls look pretty much alike when they are swaddled in sweatshirts, winter coats, gloves, hats, boots, face masks and other winter accouterments.
I’ve learned to never toodle-up behind some crazy, brave soul walking in the winter wind and yell “Hey Babe!” That “babe”, more often than not, turns out to be a toothless, prune-faced, drunk old bum with gnarly skin and no hair who will inevitably ask for money. So it can be very embarrassing.
For me it can get expensive, too. I always feel sorry for old bums, especially in these tough economic times, and hand them a $5.00 bill so they can buy a new tooth or a meal. After too many “hey babes!” I’ve learned my lesson — I will save my ogling for summer when a woman is a woman and a bum is a bum.
Last Thursday, the needle on my fed-up-with-winter-o-meter was bouncing in the red zone. By this time in January I have nearly exhausted my short list of creative ways to pass the time in winter. For something new to do, I thought I’d take a walk on the wild side.
I decided to take a trip to our local farm supply store. If you are a city-slicker, you have no idea what a farm store is. I am not going to bore you with the details, but you do need to know a couple of things about farm stores.
A farm supply store is a like a Walmart store, but instead of being filled with things you need or want, it’s filled with things you could never need or want, but that farmers really need and want.
Farms stores smell like dusty cattle feed, unwashed chickens and wood shavings.
You will never find computers, cellphones, iPads, or 4000k TVs for sale in a farm supply store. You might see iPod earbuds stuck in the ears of hip farmers or an LED TV playing a video about how to cure goat scabies, but they don’t actually sell any gizmos like those in a farm supply store.
What you will find, however, are many interesting things you never knew existed. Being a transplanted city-dweller, I was so astounded I spent almost two hours walking around in that earthy wonderland of things completely foreign to me. I might as well have been in a store on Mars.
I was fascinated.
First, I wander into a section called “Pharmaceuticals”. Ambien, Viagra, Paxil, Zoloft, and things like that? Not here.
Animals apparently don’t need help sleeping, or… you know. But what I do find are two aisles full of antibiotics like Ampicillin, Penicillin-K, Penicillin-G, tetracycline just to mention few. I gaze at all these fine antibiotics and debate whether the penicillin I’ve taken at times was the same as the stuff I’m looking at right in front of me; within my grasp, no prescription needed, on sale for just $4.95 for a bottle of one hundred tablets.
I read the label and it says “500mg, potassium penicillin G, USP.” I ponder if would I dare take this if I thought I had some sort of bacterial infection? I think for a minute or two and come to the conclusion that, yes, I would. I bet it wouldn’t kill me. Best of all no annoying doctor visit, and I hate doctors. I could save myself a couple of hours waiting in some doctor’s stinky, hospitaly, waiting room.
I could also avoid the horrible embarrassment of taking off my shirt and having my winter-white belly fall out, as well as the $110.00 fee for the office visit.
I am a big fan of self-diagnosis and self-treatment. With cow penicillin so easily available and so cheap, I feel empowered. I hate coolspeak and trite phrases but I find myself muttering, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
I don’t buy the penicillin and I get a bit angry with myself. I can be such a wuss. I’ll probably get some nasty infection tomorrow and end up paying the doctor $110 to prescribe penicillin and look at my fat white belly. I’ll fold up like a accordion, let the doctor do his deeds, and wish I would have purchased a bottle of cow penicillin and treated myself. But, what if it’s something serious? So much self-doubt. Cow penicillin would be handy to have in my medicine chest — like aspirin or Tums.
I think that if it won’t kill a cow, it probably won’t kill me.
I walk toward the next aisle regretting that I didn’t put that cow penicillin in my green, farm store shopping cart.
In the next aisle, I am dazzled by an astounding array of cattle prods in all different colors and sizes. I am literally gasping with excitement. These things look powerful – and very useful. The bright yellow ones really attract my attention – they look jolting! Just by browsing that aisle I learn that cattle prods are available in all sorts of colors, sizes, voltages and amperages. I look at the most expensive one. It’s on sale for only $99.95, but the wand is extra.
It’s a powerful stunner. The wands come in 3, 4 or 5 feet lengths. I guess the more volts and amps you have, the farther away from the cow you need to be. I wonder if you have to wear inflammable clothing.
Do the cows spark?
I am enthralled and continue to digest the information I glean from the labels. I discover that these cattle prods pack a mighty electrical wallop. They are sort of like a TASER on a stick. I read the description on the box of the big, yellow one on sale– it says that it’s powerful enough to stabilize a large cow.
I’m thinking …”Wow. if it can ‘stabilize’ a cow, what else can it stabilize” Can I give myself a cardioversion with it?
Although I’m a city-slicker, I know cows can be pretty big. I remember that because I can recall a trip to a farm I took in grade school — and because I once bought a whole cow for my home freezer. It was all cut up though.
If this cattle prod can stabilize something as big as a large cow it must be really potent. I start thinking… and I can think of several people I’d like to stabilize. I laugh at the images that float through my mind of people being ‘stabilized’.
But I think I’d better not – laws and so forth being that they are –so I pass up the cattle prods. However, once again I have second thoughts. A cattle prod would be a really fun thing to own. I am thinking of all the things I could use a cattle prod for and smile. Strangely, not one of the uses of which I am thinking have anything do with cows.
I push my shopping cart around the corner to the farm clothing aisle, where I am delighted to see a huge selection of bright green John Deere overalls. In all sizes from S to XXXX. I want a pair! I imagine myself working around the yard wearing in a pair of John Deere overalls.
They are soooo green and the John Deere logo looks soooo hot on the pocket. I picture myself sitting around in those lovely green overalls advertising John Deere. I am sublime in my imaginary sartorial splendor — and they are on sale for just $39.95! I seriously consider buying a pair. I wonder if a city-slicker like me would look good wearing them in a place like Olive Garden or Chez François?
If I had a pair, I’d wear them everywhere. I’d even wear them to the doctor’s office. I wonder if he’d make me take my shirt off then?
In spite of my John Deere lust, I pass up the sale on the overalls and move on. In the middle of my another bout of self-doubt, I spot a whole shelf full of John Deere hats. Like the overalls, they too are bright green and adorned with that sexy John Deere logo. Wow! I see that one even has earflaps on it too. It would be ideal for keeping my head and ears warm on those long winter walks.
Winter still has a long way to go too. I try one of the hats on, fold the earflaps down and look at myself in the mirror. I am so cute! I find that the hat imparts a splendid farmy-farmer look to my countenance.
The hat is very becoming; I admire the nascent farmer in the mirror. I really do look like a rugged, hard-working guy, I think as I admire myself.
I have that fresh-from-the-farm look. I look pretty much like a guy who drove a tractor to the farm supply store.
I take off the hat and put it back on the rack. I really want that hat — but I pass. I know I would end up falling in love with it and wear it everywhere. After a few months it would become stained, soiled and ratty and I’d wear it anyway.
I like to annoy people in restaurants by wearing hats while I’m eating. This hat would really be annoying. I laugh. I’m such a funny guy.
I don’t buy the penicillin. I don’t by the cattle prod. I don’t by the overalls. I don’t by the hat. I’m going to hate myself in the morning.
I look at my watch and I cannot believe that I’ve been in the farm supply store for almost two hours– and my shopping cart is still empty.
Honestly, those cattle prods are hardest for me to resist. They’re on sale today. I almost go back and get one, but I don’t. Instead, I put my empty shopping cart back and walk out of the store — into the gray gloom and harsh wind another ordinary crappy winter day.
I should have at least spent $7 and bought that hat, I think to myself. I get into my car –which by now I am pretending is a John Deere tractor– and pull out of the farm store parking lot, onto the highway and head back to my boring city-slicker existence.
I drive all the way home thinking about those cattle prods and all the things I could do with one.