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“Notes From The Farm III” by Paul Craft

422225135_tpMarch 23

Well, my girlfriend and I got her son a dirt bike not long ago. I got it home and did a little work on it over the last few weeks to get the bugs out. It’s a 1982 Honda XL 80. A great starter bike if I do say so myself. And not a bad investment for a couple hundred bucks. Doesn’t look all that great, but she’ll run fine as wine. So we made sure he wore a helmet and took it out for the first time this morning. He laid it over in the woods but didn’t get hurt. Then riding through the yard I reckon he got a little gusto about himself and cracked into the throttle a little hard. We like to call this “whiskey throttle” by the way. Next thing you know he was laying on his back with a bloody nose. He’d smacked it square on into a the tree. Of course I made sure he was okay along with the bike. I made a comment that I hope he didn’t hurt the tree. Which his sister apparently thought was funny. What he didn’t think was funny was that I likened his appearance to Gonzo from the Muppets. It’s hard to get a date when your nose is all tore up. But I did inform him that he would have a good excuse when he got back to school. Plus, chicks dig guys that get hurt doing cool stuff like wrecking a dirt bike. No girl has ever been impressed by a guy with carpal tunnel from typing too much. But speaking of busted beaks and trees, I was standing outside with Mike and Buster (my dogs) earlier giving them a good brushing. I heard a woodpecker up above. So me, Mike and Buster just stood there watching for a minute. I started thinking about what a woodpecker really does. It’s got to be a heck of a hard way to earn a living. I mean, all you do is smash your face into a tree all day. My girlfriend’s son did it once and he was through. I’m glad I don’t have that job. Leave it to a woodpecker to make you appreciate your situation.

March 4th

“I’ve had a good run and go of it.” Those were my thoughts yesterday afternoon while standing in the bathroom contemplating my life. I had to see a man about a mule, and as I was zipping up, I glimpsed down and saw the water was blood red. This is never a good sign. Immediately a whole slew of curse words started galloping through my head. All of the well-known ones of course, but I’m fairly certain I made a  few up as well. But this was no time for expanding my vocabulary or filling my head with expletives and irrational thought. No, I needed a clear and precise mind. What could be the cause of this unfortunate event? I still retained my faculties. Physically I felt fine. I would even venture to say I felt really good. Then it hit me. The lifestyle I lead in college (and well into my late 20’s) had finally come back to haunt me. It was bound to happen and now it’s time to pay the proverbial fiddler. Feel free to substitute “piper” for “fiddler” here. I personally prefer string instruments over reedless wind instruments. More soothing to my ears I suppose. Then I heard  my mother and grandmother’s voices in my head, “You better quit staying out all night drinkin’ and runnin’ around.” Then my father’s and grandfather’s voices, “One of these days you’ll get smart and stop all this rippin’ and runnin’ till dawn.” This is precisely what I used to hear every weekend until I was about 30. They were right. No doubt about it. I immediately began to think about illnesses and medical abnormalities that could cause this problem. All of them led me to the same conclusion: I’ll be dead in a week. I’ve had a good run and go of it. That’s undeniable. I need to get a living will together. How will I tell my girlfriend? Her kids? My family? How will they handle it? A psychologically daunting task on my part to say the least. Will I be able to handle it? Ha! It makes little difference. Terminal illness is like working short staffed at the McDonalds next to an “Overeaters Anonymous” club. It’s coming whether you’re ready or not. This whole time I was staring blankly at the wall in front of me. Oddly enough, I began to think about hanging my college diploma here. Because anybody who uses this bathroom would essentially HAVE to look at and acknowledge my accomplishment. You might think this is egotistical, self-centered and perhaps even arrogant. However, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I just think it would be hilarious knowing people would have to look at my diploma every time they had to take a wiz. BUT, I have already mentioned this to my girlfriend and unfortunately we have differing tastes regarding home decorating. But surely she couldn’t deny the last request of a terminally ill man? So it was settled. I was going to walk out of the bathroom and tell my girlfriend that I was as good as dead and that if she truly loved me she would let me hang my college diploma over the toilet. Then a thought crossed my mind. I ate a whole mess of beets a few hours ago. And of course beets turn your pee red/purple. I then realized I had found the culprit. Twas’ the beets who betrayed me. And that folks, is the story of how I was nearly bested by garden vegetables.

Feb. 25th
I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m getting gray hair in my beard under my chin. My girlfriend noticed it, her kids noticed it, and then of course I had to admit that it was happening. You can’t turn back the clock. It was bound to happen. Well, I talked to my grandparents earlier and the topic came up.

Me- “I suppose I’m finally getting some gray hair on my chin. Seems like it’s starting to multiply pretty quick now.”
Granny- “Well I wouldn’t fret none about that. I always thought a man was attractive when he had some gray peppered on him.”
Granddad- “Yea. I reckon that’s why she’s all over me!”
Now this is the part where he starts laughing up a storm and my grandma rolls her eyes.
Granny- “But why in the world you wear that beard is beyond me. I guess I could see keeping it through the winter. But you should shave it off when it starts getting warm. There ain’t no need to cover up that handsome face.”
Me- “I guess I’ll probably shave it off this spring.”
Granny- “Well that’s good. By the way, your dad and granddad went and got those steers that we slaughtered. We divided it all up between everybody. Me and your granddady put 200lbs of meat in your freezer today while you were at work. And I gave you the hearts and livers.”
It’s good to have grandparents. And live on a farm.

preening_chickens_lgFeb. 20th

Ever seen chickens eat jalapenos? I threw some raw jalapenos out the back window a little while ago. They were starting to go bad. By the way, chickens are like dogs. They’ll pretty much eat anything. And when you have a whole mess of chickens, they can hammer through some leftovers. They’re essentially the piranha of the barnyard. I once had a rooster named Woodhouse that liked raw deer meat. No kidding. If he ate any more I was gonna have to get him a hunting license. He was tougher than a two dollar steak. Only had one eye, missing some tail feathers and he always had dried blood on him. Woodhouse would venture across the yard out of his territory about once every three days (knowing full well what he was doing of course) and pick a fight with Willy and Waylon. Those were my other two roosters at the time. Well, I guess Willy and Waylon would fix him up a big ol’ bushel basket of ass whoppin’ and send him back across the yard. So he’d sulk around the rest of the day, and I wouldn’t see much of him. But the next morning he was right back out there at dawn chest out and crowing like he owned the place. He’d heal up for a few days and then go strutting right back across the yard over to Willy and Waylon’s place. Guess you can learn a few things from a rooster. Anyhow, when chickens eat raw jalapenos, it looks a lot like when people eat raw jalapenos. A lot of noise, stomping around and head shaking… Guess I need to go fill up the water bucket again.

Feb. 11th

Went to the doctor today to get a TB test for work and then to get some blood work done. I was called out of the waiting room by a black lady. So I was following her down the hallway and she was just talking about anything and everything under the sun. So I figured I would just listen. Well, she kept calling me her “brother.” It was over and over. It got to the point where I realized that she wanted me to ask her about why she was calling me “brother.” The last thing I do in these situations is ask the question the person wants me to ask the most. There’s no real reason for me doing this, other than I just think it’s funny to make them wait. Nurse- “You work out don’t you?”. Me- “Yes ma’am. The body is a temple, or so I hear.” Nurse- “I know that’s right. You know, I hope you don’t get offended by me calling you my brother.” Me- “No ma’am I’m not offended. To tell you the truth, I really didn’t think much of it at all.” Nurse- “I’m from the West Coast and everybody calls each other brother and sister out there. You know, we’re all brothers and sisters. We all come from the same two people.” Me- “Far be it from me to argue with the Good Book, ma’am. I’ve found that when you start straying, not much good comes of it. My pastor was talking about Genesis on Sunday as a matter of fact.” Nurse- “Whew! Your blood pressure is 104 over 72. That’s pretty good.” Me- “Yea, it usually stays right around there. I don’t get worked up over much, so it doesn’t usually get any higher.” Nurse- “What do you do?” Me-” I’m a mental health counselor. But I grew up on a farm.” Nurse- “So that’s why you’re so laid back. Living on a farm. I guess life doesn’t move too fast out there.” Me- ” ‘Bout as fast as a tractor.” Nice lady

Paul Craft
Paul was born, raised in the historic town of Fincastle, Va (just outside of Roanoke). He lives on a registered “Century Farm” that has been in his family since 1906 in a house that was built in the 1790s. His farm has over 300 hundred head of cattle, 6 donkeys, 17 chickens and various other animals along with his dogs, Mike, Buster, and Loki. Paul is married and has three step-children. Paul graduated from Emory and Henry College in 2004 with a degree in Geography and an emphasis in environmental studies. Paul works as a Mental Health Counselor and is currently working towards his Masters Degree in Counseling through Liberty University and will soon be a Christian Counselor.

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